Top Massachusetts Teachers’ Union Calls MCAS Test ‘White Supremacy,’ But The Top-Performing Students Aren’t White

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Is white supremacy around in Massachusetts?

The Massachusetts Teachers Association says yes.

So what does it look like? According to the state’s largest teachers union, the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System tests qualify as white supremacy, even though the top-performing group of students is not white.

The teachers union voiced its support for abolishing the MCAS (as the test is known) in a recent press release. The MCAS is a group of statewide standardized tests taken by elementary, middle, and high school students across the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Passing the MCAS tests in high school is a graduation requirement. It also serves as a way for the state to gauge the academic performances of public school districts around the state and how teachers are doing in them.

“MTA President Merrie Najimy said the influence of the MCAS has allowed white supremacy to flourish in public schools, effectively alienating students who have diverse backgrounds and differentiated learning styles,” the teachers union said in the written statement.

Here’s how Majimy put it, according to the statement:

“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. 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 but instead as one to pry public education from the hands of the families and educators who know best what their students need.”

The top-performing racial group on the test isn’t white students; it’s Asian students.

In 2019, 56 percent of Asian students scored Advanced on the 10th grade science/tech MCAS — compared to 35 percent of whites, and 12 percent of Hispanic/Latino and black students.

Meanwhile, 26 percent of Asian students were in the highest-achieving category for 10th grade English language arts — compared to 16 percent of whites, 4 percent of Hispanic/Latino, and 4 percent of blacks. In 10th grade mathematics, 39 percent of Asians were in the highest category — compared to 14 percent of whites, and 4 percent of Hispanic/Latino and blacks, according to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Max Page, vice president of the Massachusetts Teachers Association, argues that MCAS doesn’t do a good job of measuring students’ academic abilities. He says that it’s more likely to show their socioeconomic status.

“Educators’ unions pushed to reduce the use of MCAS during the pandemic,” Page said in the teachers union’s written statement. “In doing so, we have seen that without so much time lost to testing and test prep, educators could better engage their students as they contend with the trauma and impact of the pandemic. Our educators and students are resilient and creative; shackling them with standardized tests undermines the various initiatives to develop a system of public education that best meets the needs of an ever more diverse student body and diverse society.”


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