It’s that time of year again. No, not time to move your clocks forward and change the batteries in your smoke detectors. Not time to get your loved one’s Valentine’s Day gift (although it might be a good time to start planning for that one). No, this is the time of the year when otherwise intelligent and rational administrators start obsessing about the MCAS. That’s the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assesment System or, if you’re talking to my son, the Massachusetts Child Abuse System.
From August to January, we have earnest conversations about building curriculum and learning experiences around developmentally appropriate standards, taking each student’s needs into account, and developing well-rounded, life-long learners and citizens. Yet, every year, not long after we return from winter break, you can feel it coming on like an impending cold you know is going to make your life miserable but you are powerless to stop. The conversation starts to turn. We start counting the days until tests and gauging how we can shoehorn in the remaining topics before the big day.
This year I am watching the approach of MCAS fever with a sense of curiosity as well as the usual feeling of dread. When will the first casual comment drop about teaching “double math?”. Wait for it… 3… 2… 1! Yup, it’s still January and we’ve been asked to “think about it.”
I’ve thought about it.
I’ve thought about it and I say “NO!”
No, I will not give up Social Studies and my students’ opportunity to understand the country and culture in which they live.
No, I really don’t care that they have done away with the Social Studies MCAS due to budget constraints. Actually, I’m thrilled they have done away with the tests so I can focus on learning about what makes societies fascinating without worrying about teaching how to take that test, too.
No, I will not put aside hands-on learning in math to practice taking multiple-choice tests.
No, I will not format all of my literature questions like MCAS questions.
This is not MCAS season, it is the springtime of my students’ lives and I’m not giving one more second of that precious time to MCAS than I have to.