Policy Documents

Testimony to the Joint Education Committee

Jamie Gass –
May 10, 2011

Let me start by thanking  Co-Chairs Chang-Diaz and  Peisch for the opportunity to testify today;  Representative Smola for filing this  legislation; and the Tantasqua School Committee for its leadership on  this important issue surrounding the future of MCAS and our state’s  academic standards.

My name is Jamie Gass, director of Pioneer’s Center for School Reform. I’m testifying in favor of H3349.

When it comes to K-12 education reform in the United States, there have essentially been two narratives over the last 20 years. There’s everything  Massachusetts has done that’s made our state tops in the nation on  virtually every measure of student achievement and then there’s the rest of the country, which has been struck in various degrees of stagnation and decline.

So, what is the future of Massachusetts’ academic standards and MCAS testing?  That’s a question should have been answered well before last July, when the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) unilaterally decided to discard our state’s academics standards and MCAS for weaker quality national standards and yet-to-be-developed national testing.

Thanks to the Tantasqua School Committee and Representative Smola, the Legislature is now holding its first hearing about this enormous change to the historically successful 1993 Massachusetts Education Reform Act (MERA).