A few years ago in Massachusetts, the people got fed up with kids graduating from school without really knowing what they should. So they decided on a series of tests would be given to students that they would need to pass to be promoted — and, eventually, graduate.
The Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) had its critics, who feared that it would lead to teachers “teaching to the test.” (Personally, I didn’t see the problem there. Since it seemed that the teachers weren’t really teaching very much before, teaching something — ANYTHING — seemed like an improvement.) But it passed, and for several years now students have been taking — and, largely, passing — the exam.
Well, some schools found themselves in a bit of trouble over the test. You see, MCAS doesn’t just rate the students, but their schools, as well. If too many students at a school flunk, the school runs the risk of bringing down the wrath of the state Department of Education.
It seems that Roslindale was one of the school districts that was in trouble. The principal had ben warned that if his students didn’t start shaping up, he might as well get ready to ship out. So he did the only reasonable thing to improve performance:
If this is true, then he needs to be out on his ass yesterday. The teachers need to start teaching. And the students need to start learning.
But anyone who tries to blame this mess on MCAS needs to be smacked. It merely sets the expectation. If the principal can’t meet that expectation, then he needs to find a new line of work — one where lying and fraud and taking the easy way out is more tolerated.
Such as, say, Massachusetts state legislator.