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Homeschoolers and MCAS

Your homeschooled child does NOT need to take the MCAS tests! (The MCAS tests are given to all children in public schools in Massachusetts in grades 4, 8, and 10.) Should you ever need to clarify this point for your Superintendent you may bring the following Department of Education document to the Superintendent's attention. Some superintendents are still confused on the subject.

Also, please go on to read the position of the MHLA on any future requirements for homeschoolers to take the MCAS.

In 1997 a bill that sought to require private school students to take the MCAS exam was introduced in the Legislature. The response by Massachusetts homeschoolers and a complete chronology of events related to this bill are chronicled at

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts Department of Education
350 Main Street
Malden, Massachusetts 02148-5023
Telephone: (781)388-3300

MASSACHUSETTS COMPREHENSIVE ASSESSMENT SYSTEM (MCAS) . Questions and Answers about 1998 Test Administration May 8, 1998

As schools in Massachusetts administer the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) in grades 4, 8 and 10, some issues have come up that were not addressed in previous publications from the Department of Education. One issue concerns students who are being educated by their parents at home:

Question: Are students who are being educated by their parents at home, through a home-schooling program approved by the local school district, included in MCAS testing?

Answer: No. Students in approved home education programs are not enrolled in public school. Consequently, they are neither required nor entitled to take the MCAS tests, which are designed to measure the academic progress of students enrolled in publicly-supported schools and the performance of those schools.

Some school districts and home-schooling parents have asked whether home-educated students may participate in MCAS testing, with the agreement of the school district and the parents. At this stage of the testing program the answer is no. We are in the start-up phase of a complex statewide testing program that is focused on public schools. Including in the testing program students who are not enrolled in a publicly-supported school would create additional costs and administrative complications. In the future, after the MCAS is fully implemented, the Department of Education will consider whether and under what circumstances it is feasible to permit privately-educated students, including those being home-schooled, to participate in the MCAS testing program.

If you have additional questions about the MCAS program, please call the Department of Education, Accountability and Evaluation Services, at (781) 388-3300, extension 327.

MHLA position on any future MCAS requirement for homeschoolers

Homeschoolers are not required to participate in the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System. No state statute exists requiring the test of private school students or those "otherwise educated," as homeschoolers are defined in Massachusetts. Care and Protection of Charles, the SJC decision that guides homeschooling policy in Massachusetts, clearly states that the choice of an assessment instrument must be made in consultation with parents, and that "where practical, a neutral party should administer the test." Further, Charles says that curriculum choices are left to parents and that a homeschooler's study plan need not mimic that of the public schools.

A requirement that homeschoolers take the MCAS could easily be construed as an illegal attempt to dictate curriculum. The MCAS is designed as a complementary assessment to the DOE's curriculum frameworks. If required to take the MCAS, homeschoolers would, by default, be forced to base their education plans on these curriculum frameworks.

MHLA opposes any legislation which would mandate MCAS testing for homeschoolers.

Massachusetts Home Learning Association

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