State Education Board to release 2023 MCAS results, vote on physical and sexual education changes

The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is set to discuss the latest round of MCAS results and move forward with revisions to physical and health education framework at Tuesday’s meeting.

The upcoming meeting is set to first tackle long-discussed revisions to how the state teaches health and physical education.

The changes, proposed by the Healey administration and released for a 60-day public comment period in June, have been touted as important updates to an outdated framework including things like media literacy and inclusive of gay, queer, and trans students’ identities and needs.

They would be the first updates to the curriculum guidelines in 25 years, and the final say on curriculum would remain at the discretion of local school districts.

The department received nearly 5,400 responses of public comment, according to a summary released ahead of Tuesday’s meeting, and the newly updated draft “reflects various changes intended to address

Comments spanned both strong opposition and strong support for the changes, according to the DESE summary. Most survey respondents — mostly identifying as parents — agreed with statements like the “vision is clear and compelling” — 57% agreed — and the practices “identify the most important skills that students need to maintain lifelong physical and mental health — 55% agreed.

However, more disagreed with statement including the standards “will help Massachusetts achieve the vision for Comprehensive Health and Physical Education” — 53% disagreed — and standards “represent a reasonable progression of expectations for student learning” — 53%

The board will vote on whether to approve the new framework during the Tuesday meeting.

The Education Board will also discuss the latest round of MCAS results, set to be publicly released Tuesday afternoon.

The 2023 MCAS was the first full standardized testing in Massachusetts since the start of the pandemic. Pandemic-era scores have suffered across the state, with results plunging to the lowest in decades in 2022.

The results come amidst a renewed push to overthrow the MCAS graduation requirement, including a ballot initiative push let by the Massachusetts’s teachers union.

The meeting will take place from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Zoom.

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