Legislature Passes Bill to Waive MCAS Requirements, Support Vulnerable Residents

BOSTON 4/10/2020 – Senator Cindy F. Friedman (D-Arlington) supported legislation passed by the Senate and House that provides testing and budgetary flexibility to school districts and supports those experiencing homelessness in the Commonwealth. The bill was later signed into law by the Governor on Friday, April 10.

“The Legislature has taken additional steps forward to support students and protect vulnerable populations in our Commonwealth,” said Senator Friedman. “I’m particularly pleased that this bill waives MCAS requirements for the remainder of the academic year. Our students’ routines have been disrupted as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and we simply cannot expect them to participate in these exams during this time of constant change. Thank you to the Senate President and my legislative colleagues for their hard work and collaboration on this legislation.” 

This latest relief package known as An Act to Further Address Challenges Faced by Municipalities, School Districts and State authorities Resulting from COVID-19, includes the following components:

Student Requirements and District Operations. To address disruptions caused by the closure of K-12 schools due to COVID-19, the legislation waives the MCAS requirements for the 2019-2020 academic year and allows the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) to modify or waive competency determination requirements related to high school graduation.

In order to comply with measures under the newly implemented Student Opportunity Act, the legislation requires the DESE Commissioner to extend the deadlines for school districts to submit their three-year plans to address educational disparities in student subgroups. This deadline has been extended to May 15, 2020, or later, as determined by the Commissioner.

The legislation also provides budgetary flexibility for regional schools as a result of COVID-19.

Helping Vulnerable Populations. In keeping with the Legislature’s commitment to protecting vulnerable populations, the legislation repurposes existing homelessness funds that currently support services that can’t be provided due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The legislation redirects funding to address immediate and critical homelessness needs resulting from the public health emergency.

MBTA Budget FlexibilityThe legislation also provides the MBTA additional budgetary flexibility amid the COVID-19 emergency.