Massachusetts Governor Vetoes Exit Exam Reform Measure

K-12 Testing

The controversial Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) tests never faced a vote in the state’s legislature until this year. The state Department of Education had implemented the exams under a broad mandate to create a new assessment system. This spring, the first time legislators had a chance to vote on the MCAS, they overwhelmingly agreed to change the MCAS appeals process to make it more fair to disabled students. The House voted 117-37 to allow districts to exempt disabled students from the exit exam, and the full senate supported a compromise measure amending the appeals process. Then, in July, Governor Mitt Romney vetoed the compromise.


Despite strong and widespread legislative concerns about the MCAS, pro-MCAS legislative leaders blocked the measure from coming up for an override vote. The measure vetoed by Governor Mitt Romney would have given special needs students better access to the appeals process. Their parents would have been able to initiate appeals and require the state education commissioner to provide evidence of why a student shouldn’t graduate if his individual education plan team said the MCAS results were not a fair reflection of the student’s abilities. The measure passed by the House would have permitted local districts to waive the MCAS testing requirement for disabled students if they had met local graduation standards. Legislative leaders claim they will hammer out a compromise measure to “level the playing field” for disabled students by the end of September.