The MCAS Test

Massachusetts students in public or charter schools are required to take the MCAS tests. It's important for parents and students to understand the nature of the MCAS and the reasons for taking them before the tests are administered.

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The MCAS (Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System) is designed to measure students' academic progress. If parents and students don't fully understand the purpose behind this test, the results won't be as effective as they could be. This article will attempt to explain the MCAS, including what the results should mean to students and what parents can do to help their students succeed.

What Students Must Take the MCAS and Why?

The 1993 Education Reform Law requires that all students be given the chance to learn according to the Massachusetts academic learning standards. These standards provide structure to a teacher's lesson plans and tests and are used in all of Massachusetts' public schools and school districts. The law requires all public school students at a given grade level, including charter school students, to complete the MCAS. Private and home school students are not required to take the test at this time, and currently are not able to participate in this testing, even by request.

How the MCAS Can Help Students Succeed

Educators and parents are able to use the results of MCAS to assess their students' progress and identify their strengths and their weaknesses. The test results provide information which can help students to perform at higher academic levels and can help teachers to create curricula that are aligned with statewide standards. The MCAS can be used to determine whether students have achieved the academic level necessary to earn their high school diplomas. If students do not pass the MCAS, they will be given multiple opportunities to retake it.

Helping Your Child to Perform Well on the MCAS

It's important to discuss with children why this test is important and how it can affect the outcome of their education. When explaining the importance of the MCAS, remind your children that the tests are nothing new, and not too scary. In fact, these tests are designed to measure the skills their teachers should already have taught them. Your child's teacher should be able to provide you with information about grade level standards. If not, you'll be able to find that information online via the Massachusetts' public school website, http://www.doe.mass.edu.

Knowing When to Ask for Help

If you notice your students struggling with some of their lessons, they may benefit from supplemental educational programs such as tutoring. Tutors can give children one-on-one attention. When preparing for the MCAS, you should look for a tutor who is state certified and who knows the state educational standards associated with the MCAS. Effective tutoring help is often available online - these programs tend to be more convenient because children can complete their lessons from any computer that is connected to the Internet.

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