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Therapy and sanity for ordinary parents of special kids.

Take Out Your Number 2 Pencils and Your 1/5 of Vodka…It’s MCAS Time.


When I was a kid, I loved spring. It meant longer days, the start of the Red Sox season, and that extra jump in my step that signified the arrival of the Easter Bunny. Now that I’m a mother, I hate it. And it’s not just because it means I can no longer hide my winter weight behind bulky sweaters. No sir; I dread spring for a much bigger reason — it is  the time for MCAS Testing.

The experts say MCAS stands for the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS). In my home it stands for Mother Could Actually Stroke. The very thought of the MCAS brings sheer terror to my two already anxious children, making them very difficult to deal with. Of course, the school rumor mill doesn’t help lessen their anxiety.

“Mom, kids say that if I don’t pass this test, I won’t be able to graduate or have children.”

The anxiety for us mothers who have to deal with MCAS panic is pretty high as well. In fact,  imperfect studies have shown that there is a surge in alcohol and pharmaceutical sales during MCAS season. Many of us have even resorted to  desperate measures to get our children to pass. “Look, Mrs. Crabapple, if you give the kid some answers, I’ll throw in a little extra something with your apple this year. If you know what I’m saying.”

Last year, after several unsuccessful attempts (and strokes) my daughter, Katie, finally passed the MCAS Math test, making her eligible to get her diploma with her classmates this spring. We were all thrilled and relieved, especially me. “GINA GALLAGHER, YOUR DAUGHTER KATIE JUST PASSED THE MCAS MATH TEST AFTER 75,000 ATTEMPTS. WHAT ARE YOU GONNA DO NOW?”

“I’m checking into rehab!”

With one MCAS graduate, I now only have one more child who has to deal with it — my eigth grader, Emily. Unfortunately,  she is even more anxious and gullible than Katie about the test. “Mom, is it true you go on Death Row if you don’t pass?”

She was a nervous wreck when I sent her off to school this morning with a pack of erasers, a healthy snack, and a fifth of vodka (just kidding, it was rum).  If I could have done anything to get her out of the test, I would have. Lord knows, I tried.

“Look, Ms. Bliss, Emily can’t take the MCAS test today. Her dog ate her number 2 pencils.”

“Mr. Custodian, I’ll give you $100 bucks if you pull the fire alarm.”

But sadly, no matter how much I try to shield her from the anxiety of this test, there’s nothing I can do. I’ll just have to there for her and assure her that everything will be OK.

“Honey, I swear, you only need a license and  blood test to get married; you don’t have to show your MCAS scores. Daddy and I never would have qualified to marry.”

Tell me how do you feel about MCAS or your state’s assessment test?








One Response to Take Out Your Number 2 Pencils and Your 1/5 of Vodka…It’s MCAS Time.

  1. Katherine M. Martin March 26, 2013 at 12:01 pm #

    MCAS is the politicians way of making themselves feel good about education reform. If they were really serious about this they would look at the real numbers – that 85% of kids with disabilities in MA are eligible (read required) to take MCAS because they are not cognitively disabled. Yet, the passing rate for these kids hovers around 42%.
    Non compliance with state and federal special education laws contribute to this. the standardized test is bias against kids with ASD/NVLD/LLD who have difficulty with processing or inferences. When the every member of the Great and General Court of MA can pass MCAS then I will support it as a graduation requirement. My son works 100X harder to accomplish what his NT peers do and should not be denied a dipolma bc of a standardized test. I have a BA, partial credit towards an MA, JD and passed the MA bar. I would probably have fail the math portion if my SAT scores were any prediction.

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