How we love Massachusetts: its patriotic history, wind-swept shores, and, of course, sky-high standards. While other states take cues from NCLB to walk to the middle, Massachusetts keeps raising the bar. So it is that Bay State students who pass the MCAS graduation exam, but just barely, must complete a remedial battery of classes and testing in order to graduate. Mitchell Chester, state commissioner of elementary and secondary education, explains, "What we don't want is students and schools to think they can slide by on 'needs improvement.'" Our compliments to that thought process. But the measure, which was enacted two years ago in the pre-Deval Patrick days but was only recently--and quietly--implemented, has drawn broad criticism. Scott Lang, mayor of New Bedford, MA, argues that too few students are receiving diplomas already and each paperless individual "costs the state an average of $22,449 annually in direct benefits and means-tested aid, including state-subsidized healthcare and welfare benefits." Luckily, James Peyser of the NewSchools Venture Fund (and former chair of the Massachusetts Board of Education) is there to restore common sense to the dialogue. "Lang thinks he's standing up for the disenfranchised. Unfortunately, his proposal would only serve to condemn another generation of young people to low expectations and benign neglect." God bless Massachusetts!
"New rule casts cloud on MCAS results," by James Vaznis, The Boston Globe, September 29, 2008
"A diploma for every student," by Scott W Lang, The Boston Globe, September 28, 2008
"Assault on standards would leave many students behind," by James Peyser, The Boston Globe, September 30, 2008