Mass. teachers union says standardized tests have allowed ‘white supremacy to flourish’

News & Politics

A teachers union in Massachusetts claim the state’s standardized testing has “allowed white supremacy to flourish.”

The Massachusetts Teachers Association wants to strip the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) as a part of graduation requirements for students.

“The implementation of the MCAS and other standardized tests has had the exact opposite effect of what was supposed to occur when the system was introduced more than 20 years ago,” said MTA president Merrie Najimy in a statement.

The union is backing a bill to give students “multiple pathways” to show their educational competency apart from the MCAS standardized testing.

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“Public schools in predominantly Black and brown communities have been taken over by state bureaucrats who have been using standardized testing as a tool not to improve opportunities for students,” continued Najimy, “but instead as one to pry public education from the hands of the families and educators who know best what their students need.”

Najimy and the MTA had opposed MCAS by calling for their cancellation over the coronavirus pandemic.

“Once you get past this year, it’s gonna be a real critical time to reimagine what could be, which means really thinking about bringing in more school quality measures and new ways to judge how our schools are doing,” said Najimy in January.

Critics of standardized testing say their are biased against minority and disadvantaged children.

“You have these third-party vendors creating these tests for school districts and states, and states are forced to implement them,” said Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) in an interview about standardized testing.

“So it made a lot of people a lot of money. But then the charter school industry is also part of that money train as well because the tests have been weaponized against teachers and schools and teachers’ unions,” he explained. “The more you say a teacher is bad and a public school is bad, the more momentum you have to close that school. And when school’s close, charter schools open.”

Bowman specifically says shutting down standardized testing is aligned with his effort for “racial justice.”

Others say standardized testing allows the government to identify low performing schools in order to improve education for minority and other underserved students.

“The primary purpose of education reform in Massachusetts was and is equity. MCAS shines a light on how much students are learning,” argued Professor Paul Reville, who formerly served as the state’s secretary of education.

“It highlights those Black, brown, and other students who are being failed by our education system,” he added. “It calls attention to their challenges and provides a rationale for giving teachers support they deserve to help their students meet high standards.”

Here’s more about the MTA opposing standardized testing:

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What to expect from this year’s MCAS testing

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