Sept. 19, 2011
BOSTON — This week in Massachusetts politics, the state Department of Education releases standardized test scores, the Legislature's Joint Judiciary Committee hears testimony on sentencing guidelines, and lawmakers propose changes to the casino bill that's already passed the House.
On Tuesday, state education officials will release MCAS scores for every city, town and school district in Massachusetts. The Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment Tests measure student progress on reading, math, and science. But they are also used to rank the quality of schools and districts across the state. And for the first time this year, they will factor into teacher evaluations in 10 school districts, including Boston and Springfield. MCAS statewide averages, which were released earlier this month, showed mixed results. Fifth graders made marked improvements on the math and English portions of the test, while third-grade English scores dropped.
Also on Tuesday, lawmakers will hold a public hearing on Gov. Deval Patrick’s bill to repeal mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses that don’t involve violence, guns or children. The bill would also strengthen sentences for violent habitual offenders.
Wednesday is the deadline for Senators to file amendments to the their version of the casino gambling legislation. The outlines of the bill are nearly identical to the House version, which passed last week. Both bills would authorize up to three resort casinos in three different regions of the state and one slot parlor. Senate debate on the bill is set for September 26.