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Stop MCAS Entirely!

Read about the origins of the MCAS test, the background of this Call, and other related material!

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Download A Call for MassRefusal (pdf, 15 KB)

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Dave Stratman
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Carol Doherty

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MCAS 2003



The MCAS (Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System) test has been imposed on public school children from the 3rd through the 10th grades (except the 9th). Beginning with the Class of 2003, 10th graders have to pass MCAS to graduate. In spite of dramatically higher scores, more than 33% still failed to pass this test in 2001. Forty-one percent of urban students failed either the English or math tests; 54% of vocational students failed.

This high stakes test is very destructive. It tests children on materials above their grade level and puts far too much stress on children as young as eight years old. It is gutting school curricula, reducing education to a pursuit of performance and "coverage"rather than thoughtful exploration of issues, and imposing a climate of fear. It will drive many students out of school without a diploma, as has already happened in Florida and Texas.

Despite the claims of its supporters, MCAS is designed to lower young people's expectations so that they will accept their place in a more unequal, less democratic society. Abigail Thernstrom, member of the Mass Board of Education, recently made the point clearly: "a thriving economy depends on a lot of unskilled people." (Boston Globe, 1/7/01) Similar tests have been imposed in 27 states.

Public education needs substantial change, but MCAS and other corporate-led education reforms move in the wrong direction. They intensify the competition and inequality already at the heart of the educational system. Real education reforms must begin by providing a high level of support for all our children to succeed, not set them up for failure.

We cannot rely solely on our legislators or political figures to solve the problem of MCAS. We have to rely on our own individual and collective strength. MassRefusal will help build the deep and powerful movement we need to stop MCAS and to make the schools all they should be to meet the needs of our children.

  • We call on all teachers and teacher union locals to refuse to administer the MCAS in 2003.
  • We call on all parents and parent organizations to support teachers' refusal to administer the MCAS.
  • We call on all people to copy and distribute this "Call for MassRefusal" as widely as possible.
  • We call on all people to ask that any organization of which they are members--teacher unions, PTOs, school councils, trade unions, faith-based groups, civil rights, civic, and professional organizations, political groups, etc.--endorse this "Call for MassRefusal" and publicize their endorsement.

It will take time to organize an effective mass boycott of the tests. In the coming year we need your help circulating literature exposing MCAS, organizing parents, recruiting teacher union locals to engage in MassRefusal, inviting speakers to your local or organization, holding house meetings about MCAS, raising money for printing and other costs. Please contact us if you can help in any way.

For Mass Refusal

  • Carol Doherty, former President, Massachusetts Teachers Association
  • Ken Hamilton, President, Newton Teachers Association*
  • Phil Katz, President, Brookline Education Association*
  • Vito Lamura, President, Lexington Education Association*
  • Ron Miller, former President, Natick Education Association*
  • Jean McGuire, Chair, Mass CARE Council*
  • Joe O'Sullivan, President, Brockton Education Association*
  • Paul Phillips, President, Quincy Education Association*
  • David Stratman, former Washington Director, National Parent-Teacher Association and Editor, New Democracy

*For identification purposes only.

Individual Endorsers

download Call for MassRefusal in pdf format for printing/copying (15 KB)

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