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State to tell schools if MCAS is delayed

Date: 2/23/2011

Feb. 23, 2011

By G. Michael Dobbs

Managing Editor

CHICOPEE — School Superintendent Richard Rege Jr. told the School Committee last week he and other school superintendents will learn in the near future how long the state might delay the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) test.

The superintendents recently asked Massachusetts Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester to delay the spring testing by at least a week. Rege explained that some communities have as many as 11 snow days so far this year and require the additional time to complete instruction needed by the students for the test.

Chicopee has lost six days to bad weather.

Rege reported that Chester said delaying the test by two days may be possible, but not the eight to 10 that superintendents requested. Chester cited two reason for his decision: the first being the additional funding the day would cause. Chester asserted a delay of eight to 10 days would cost the state "seven figures."

The second is the people who score the MCAS tests are scheduled for a particular time. If the state changes the date significantly, Chester said a new group of scorers would have to be used and he charged that might affect the scoring of the tests.

Because of the snow days, Chicopee's school year will end on June 28. Rege said he has two more days left that he could use for future storms. If there were more than two days of inclement weather, he would consider taking a day or two from the April vacation.

He said that conducting classes on Saturdays "was no palatable" to him, as he was concerned attendance would be poor.

The School Committee heard a report from the Student Advisory Council and Chair Matt Roy said the council was in agreement with the school policy on cell phones. The council had considered an amended proposal that would allow leniency at lunchtime, but decided the policy of confiscating the phones if used was appropriate.

The student group also agreed with the proposed guidelines concerning academic requirements for student athletes. The proposed rule would allow the athletes one failing grade as long as the class was not a graduation requirement.

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