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For Grades 3-8, MCAS 2021 Spring Testing Dates Are Pushed Back

State education officials have updated MCAS testing schedule plans, pushing the standardized exam dates back for students in grades three through eight.

An email the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education sent to superintendents Friday informed them of a May 10 to June 11 testing window for students in grades three through five, with dates to be determined for students in grades six, seven and eight.

The announcement came two hours before the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education was slated to meet to vote on giving Education Commissioner Jeff Riley the authority to decide when districts can no longer use remote or hybrid learning models.

Riley has said he will pursue a phased approach with the goal of getting as many kids as possible back into classrooms by the end of this school year, focusing first on elementary school students next month and then moving to older grades.

After canceling MCAS administration last year because of the sudden transition to remote learning — a move teachers unions and some lawmakers want to see repeated this year in light of the continued disruption to education — education officials had already announced changes to this year's exams, including shorter tests for third- through eighth-graders. The Baker administration supports the tests as an important way to diagnose pandemic-era learning loss.

In written comments to the board Friday, Massachusetts Teachers Association President Merrie Najimy questioned the timing of the vote to let Riley bring kids back into classrooms, asking if the "planned launch of MCAS testing on April 5" was "the real motivation" behind the administration's "haste" to have the regulatory changes approved.

Liam Kerr, state director of Democrats for Education Reform, said that postponing MCAS tests from early April "provides flexibility on when to administer the tests to ensure a smooth reopening of schools" but "should not be mistaken as an open door to cancelling MCAS tests altogether."

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