Eleventh graders may not be required to take this year's Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System exam, enabling them to graduate without taking the high school version of the standardized test.
That's what Jeffrey C. Riley, the state's education commissioner, said Thursday that he will recommend to the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, whose 12 members will vote on the matter.
If the change is approved by the board, it would mean that the current class of juniors could graduate without taking the test, which is usually given in the tenth grade. Because of the pandemic, MCAS tests were not given at any grade levels last year, under a waiver from the federal government.
It was not immediately clear how the state would measure students' competency to graduate otherwise.
The MCAS will be given in lower grades in a shortened format. State officials also announced that students in grades three through eight who are attending school remotely the rest of the year can take the tests remotely.
"The MCAS tests will provide Massachusetts educators and families critical insight into academic losses that must be addressed, as well as data on which students and districts have been most impacted by the disruptions in schooling," officials said in a news release. "Administering the MCAS will make it possible to reliably assess students’ progress in relation to curriculum standards."
Some superintendents have criticized the idea that students in some districts would finally return to classrooms for the first time this year, only to be immediately subjected to the tests.
The Massachusetts Teachers Association, the state's largest teachers union, said the exemption given to juniors was not broad enough.
"Administering the MCAS tests this year would be nothing but a bureaucratic exercise in compliance that would take time and resources away from teaching and supporting students," Merrie Najimy, the MTA's president, said in a statement. "It would add stress to an already disrupted year without providing educators or parents with any valid or useful information."