On Wednesday, Jun. 9, members of the Class of 2024 took the Physics Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) exam. Many of these students noticed that questions on their official MCAS test were identical to practice questions previously provided to them.
In the weeks leading up to the test, multiple practice quizzes were posted on the Class of 2024’s Canvas page. The optional quizzes contained a variety of multiple choice questions. In some physics classes, freshmen also received handouts containing open-response practice.
A few days later, when the students sat down to take the real MCAS test, they noticed something strange. Several students recognized questions on their MCAS tests that were the exact same as questions they had already seen on two of the Canvas review quizzes and class handouts.
According to Science Curriculum Coordinator Ed Wiser, all the practice questions students saw were taken straight from previous MCAS tests. Wiser said that in the summer after the MCAS test every year, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) releases the tests and all of its questions on its website. Wiser took previous years’ MCAS questions and used them to create the Canvas quizzes many students used to prepare.
“When they release the questions in the summer, I will be able to confirm how many questions were previously released,” Wiser said.
Multiple freshmen said that at least four of the questions on the first two Canvas practice quizzes appeared word-for-word on their MCAS.
Freshman Amara Ukomadu said that her teacher reviewed answers from the practice quizzes during physics class, including questions that appeared on the real exam.
“I remembered most of the answers because we had gone over them a week before,” Ukomadu said.
Freshman Emeri Shende-Ruiz said that in his physics class, students were given a packet of 14 practice questions for homework and during the next class, their teacher reviewed them. Of these 14 questions, Shende-Ruiz said three were on his MCAS.
Wiser said that he contacted DESE and spoke to them on the phone. According to Wiser, DESE is “not concerned about test security being compromised.”
“If they indeed used previously released material, BHS students had an unfair advantage without our knowledge,” Wiser said. “There is no conceivable reason why DESE would do this.”