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After Backlash, State Scraps Controversial MCAS Question07:59

Brighton High School. (Wikimedia Commons)
Brighton High School. (Wikimedia Commons)

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is pulling a controversial question from its state standardized test.

The move comes after students, parents, and advocacy groups said this year's MCAS 10th grade exam contained a prompt asking students to write from the point of view of a racist character from author Colson Whitehead's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, "The Underground Railroad."

The department has not released the text of the question — but in a response to WBUR said "after excluding this item, the test is sound, valid and reliable in terms of assessing students’ performance in English language arts."


Jack Schneider, assistant professor of education at UMass Lowell, and director of research for the Massachusetts Consortium for Innovative Education Assessment. He tweets @Edu_Historian.

This segment aired on April 4, 2019.


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Deborah Becker is a senior correspondent and host at WBUR. Her reporting focuses on mental health, criminal justice and education.


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Walter Wuthmann is a freelance producer for Radio Boston and WBUR's Newscast.


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