It’s Time to Let Students Thrive

High Standards, Not High Stakes

The Thrive Act maintains Massachusetts’ rigorous and nationally respected academic standards. The Thrive Act discontinues two failing policies: We stop using standardized MCAS scores to block students from graduating high school. We stop using standardized MCAS scores to place school districts under state control.

MCAS Petition Drive

MTA celebrates 135K signatures gathered for ballot question to challenge graduation requirement tied to MCAS

In a significant demonstration of public support, MTA members and allies have collected more than 130,000 signatures in support of a ballot initiative aimed at ending the controversial graduation requirement tied to the MCAS exam.

Parents, educators and students are meeting on Dec. 6 at the State House to share their personal stories about the impacts of high-stakes testing tied to the graduation requirement in Massachusetts. After the press conference, participants will hand-deliver the final 20,000 signatures to the Secretary of State's office.

Massachusetts is among eight states in the country that currently link standardized tests to graduation requirements.

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Educators have long called for an end to the punishing high-stakes testing regime

High-stakes testing and the associated accountability measures have undermined our public education system for far too long.

Massachusetts is only one of eight states in the country that ties its standardized test to graduation. The change in attitudes about exit exams is likely related to research indicating that exit exams don't increase academic achievement.

The current testing system reduces time to teach, narrows the curriculum, adds stress and reduces creativity and misuses education dollars. The punitive aspects of the MCAS regime are especially detrimental to students with Individualized Education Plans, students learning English as a second language, students of color and and students from groups that have been historically marginalized from an equitable and supportive education.

Legislation to eliminate the high-stakes components of the MCAS tests

An Act Empowering Students and Schools to Thrive, better known as the Thrive Act, would replace the MCAS graduation requirement with one that allows students’ districts to certify that they have satisfactorily completed coursework showing mastery of the skills, competencies and knowledge required by the state standards.

Learn More about the Thrive AcT

Take Action to End High-Stakes Testing

Legislative Priorities announcement on Dec. 8 2022

MCAS incentivize schools to 'teach to the test, narrow the curriculum'

When MTA member Jack Schneider spoke on the impact of the MCAS exams at a State House press conference in December 2022, he teared up at the emotional toll the standardized test has had on his own child.

The high-stakes nature of the test, said Schneider, a professor of education at UMass Lowell who studies the impact of MCAS and school rankings, "incentivizes schools to game the system, to do things like teach to the test and narrow the curriculum."

The high-stakes test has been a hot-button issue for students and educators since the Massachusetts Education Reform Act of 1993, which created the MCAS accountability system.


"This is part of a broken system that has been going on for far too long."

MTA Vice President Deb McCarthy
Deeper Dive
Testing & Young Children
Get the facts on why testing is harmful to young children – as well as the right questions to ask.

Defending the Early Years and FairTest

Why Testing Must Go
Reason #1: Making major decisions based on standardized tests – has failed.

Citizens for Public Schools

What Test Scores Tell Us
Students’ test scores tell us more about the community they live in than what they know.

Christopher Tienken, Seton Hall U.