Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education (DESE)

Commissioner’s Weekly Update – March 24, 2017:  School Climate Questionnaire Included with MCAS

On Thursday, March 23, 2017 the Commissioner of Education informed school district leaders that during the spring administration of MCAS students in grades 5, 8, and 10 would be presented with a survey to measure social-emotional learning.  This is not a new practice as students in grade 8 and 10 have been administered optional surveys on a number of various topics over the past several years.  What is new this year is (a) the inclusion of grade 5 in the questionnaire administration and (b) the tool being used has not been shown to have sufficient reliability or validity data to support its administration (the state plans to run these analyses after the administration of the survey).

Hingham Public Schools has carefully reviewed the questionnaires and has consulted with school and district leaders on the content.  We have reached consensus that the district will not be participating in the administration of the surveys this year as the questionnaires lack sufficient reliability and validity data to suggest the results would yield meaningful information for either interpretation or comparisons across districts and the state. Additionally, the district is in the process of forming our own Social-Emotional Taskforce to examine the social-emotional needs of our students and plan accordingly. The administration of these surveys does not align with district plans in this regard.  Further, we are sensitive to the perspective of many parents that the time spent on MCAS related tasks is an interruption to time spent on learning and adding to anxiety levels for some of our students.

Should there be any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact your building principal.

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