Legislature Passes Law to Cancel MCAS and Support Vulnerable Populations During Pandemic
BOSTON— On Thursday, April 9, the State Legislature passed legislation that cancels MCAS testing requirements for the current school year and supports those experiencing homelessness.
“Cancelling MCAS testing for the remainder of this school year will enable our teachers and students to focus on learning and personal well-being as we continue to navigate the current public health emergency,” said Senator Jason Lewis, Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Education “Legislators heard loud and clear from teachers, parents and superintendents that this was the right thing to do.”
This latest relief package known as An Act to Further Address Challenges Faced by Municipalities, School Districts and State authorities Resulting from COVID-19, includes the following components.
Student Requirements and District Operations. To address disruptions caused by the closure of K-12 schools due to COVID-19, the legislation waives the MCAS requirements for the 2019-2020 academic year and allows DESE to modify or waive competency determination requirements related to high school graduation.
In order to comply with measures under the newly implemented Student Opportunity Act, the legislation would require the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) Commissioner to extend the deadlines for school districts to submit their three-year plans to address educational disparities in student subgroups. This deadline shall be extended to May 15, 2020, or later, as determined by the Commissioner.
The legislation also provides budgetary flexibility for regional schools as a result of COVID-19.
Helping Vulnerable Populations. In keeping with the Legislature’s commitment to protecting vulnerable populations, the legislation repurposes existing homelessness funds that currently support services that can’t be provided due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The legislation redirects funding to address immediate and critical homelessness needs resulting from the public health emergency.
MBTA Budget Flexibility. The legislation also provides the MBTA additional budgetary flexibility amid the COVID-19 emergency.
The bill, which is the latest action by the Legislature to address the COVID-19 public health crisis and its effects on Massachusetts, was signed by Governor Baker on Friday, April 10.