Brookline Educators Association Statement

 


Adopted by the BEA Representative Council on March 12, 2001

The Brookline Educators Association (BEA) supports high standards and accountability but opposes the use of a single high-stakes test to make life altering decisions about students, teachers, schools or school systems. In particular, we oppose the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) as currently implemented and reported and the results of which are misapplied. MCAS is neither comprehensive nor does it provide a systematic plan for remediation; it is simply a test that has been given too much publicity and too little scrutiny.

The misuse of MCAS results negatively impacts the quality of education for most children. (As a prime example of this misuse, in January 2001, Brookline High School was given an 'F' for failing to meet the state's improvement goals based solely on MCAS scores at a time when there were 19
Merit Finalists, more than any other public high school in New England, and the average SAT scores were the highest in history, with 97% of the students taking the test.) Misuse of MCAS is especially harmful to students who have special needs or whose strengths lie in non-academic
areas. We believe that misuse of MCAS test results exacerbates the impacts of race prejudice, class distinctions and limited English proficiency. MCAS should not be used to determine student's eligibility for graduation, promotion to the next grade, or access to, or financial
assistance for, higher education. We believe that the only appropriate use of standardized tests in the public schools of Massachusetts is for diagnostic purposes in order to improve the delivery of instruction. We believe that students and educators who are opposed to such high-stakes
tests should not be forced to participate in their implementation.

The BEA believes that students should be assessed comprehensively by those adults who know them best in their school settings: their teachers, administrators and support staff. We believe that educators should be evaluated by school administrators through direct observation. We also
believe schools and school systems should be held accountable using a truly comprehensive assessment system. Finally, we believe that the state must provide ample funding to ensure that all students receive high quality public education.

Therefore, the BEA supports Senate Bill 255, drafted by the Massachusetts Teachers Association (MTA) that, among other things, calls for:

- the end of MCAS as a graduation requirement;
- the redesign and streamlining of the existing test;
- the use of MCAS for diagnostic purposes only;
- review of MCAS and the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks by professional education associations;
- an independent review of MCAS for validity and reliability; and
- a comprehensive assessment system for schools.

Further, while we applaud the Brookline School Committee's position and extensive work toward eliminating MCAS as a graduation requirement and resisting changes to curriculum solely to address MCAS, the BEA calls upon the Brookline School Committee to support the legislation filed by the MTA or like-minded proposals and to develop and distribute policies to ensure
that:

- Brookline's curricula and educational procedures are not altered simply to "teach to the test;"
- there are no local consequences if a student refuses to take such tests; and
- no educator is disciplined for refusing to administer such tests.