Mandated “Standardized” Tests or Mandated “Performance” Tests?

Fewer and fewer colleges require SAT scores for admission and more and more parents and others are calling for the reduction or elimination of “standardized” tests.  Interestingly, there is little call for “no mandated K-12 tests” at all.  One might expect that call given the complaints against Common Core-aligned tests and the number of misleading references to what Finland has done.

According to many education writers in this country, there are no tests in Finnish schools, at least no “mandated standardized tests.”  That phrase was carefully hammered out by Smithsonian Magazine to exclude the many no- or low-stakes “norm-referenced” tests (like the Iowa Test of Basic Skills, or ITBS) that have been given for decades across this country especially in the elementary grades to help school administrators to understand where their students’ achievement fell under a “normal curve” of distributing test scores.

Yet, a prominent Finnish educator tells us that Finnish teachers regularly test their upper-grade students. As Finnish educator, Pasi Sahlberg, noted (p. 25), teachers assess student achievement in the upper secondary school at the end of each six to seven-week period, or five or six times per subject per school year. There are lots of tests in Finnish schools, it seems, but mainly teacher-made tests (not state-wide tests) of what they have taught.  There are also “matriculation” tests at the end of high school (as the Smithsonian article admits)—for students who want to go to a Finnish university.  They are in fact voluntary; only students who want to go on to university take them.  Indeed, there are lots of tests for Finnish students, just not where American students are heavily tested (in the elementary and middle grades) and not constructed by a testing company. 

Why should Americans now be even more interested in the topic of testing than ever before?  Mainly because there seems to be a groundswell developing for “performance” tests in place of “standardized” tests.  And they are called “assessments” perhaps to make parents and teachers think they are not those dreaded tests mandated by state boards of education for grades 3-8 and beyond as part of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). Who wouldn’t want a test that “accurately measures one or more specific course standards”?  And is also “complex, authentic, process and/or product-oriented, and open-ended.”  Edutopia’s writer, Patricia Hilliard, doesn’t tell us in her 2015 blog “Performance-Based Assessment: Reviewing the Basics” whether it also brushes our hair and shines our shoes at the same time.

It’s as if our problem was simply the type of test that states have been giving, not what is tested nor the cost or amount of time teachers and students spend on them.  It doesn’t take much browsing on-line to discover that two states have already found out there were deep problems with those tests, too: Vermont and Kentucky.  

An old government publication (1993) warned readers about some of the problems with portfolios: ”Users need to pay close attention to technical and equity issues to ensure that the assessments are fair to all students.” It turns out that portfolios are not good for high stakes assessment—for a range of important reasons. In a nutshell, they are costly, time-consuming, and unreliable.   Quoting one of the researchers/evaluators in the Vermont initiative, it indicates: “The Vermont experience demonstrates the need to set realistic expectations for the short-term success of performance-assessment programs and to acknowledge the large costs of these programs.” Koretz et al state elsewhere in their own blog that the researchers “found the reliability of the scoring by teachers to be very low in both subjects… Disagreement among scorers alone accounts for much of the variance in scores and therefore invalidates any comparisons of scores.” 

Koretz and his colleagues emphasized the lack of quality data in another government publication. And as noted in a 2018 blog by Daisy Christodoulou, a former English teacher in several London high schools, validity and reliability are the two central qualities needed in a test. 

We learned even more from a book chapter by education professor George K. Cunningham on the “failed accountability system” in Kentucky. One of Cunningham’s most astute observations is the following:

Historically, the purpose of instruction in this country has been increasing student academic achievement. This is not the purpose of progressive education, which prefers to be judged by standards other than student academic performance. The Kentucky reform presents a paradox, a system structured to require increasing levels of academic performance while supporting a set of instructional methods that are hostile to the idea of increased academic performance (pp. 264-65).

That is still the dilemma today—skills-oriented standards assessed by “standardized” tests that require, for the sake of a reliable assessment, some multiple-choice questions.  

Cunningham also warned, in the conclusion to his long chapter on Kentucky, about using performance assessments for large-scale assessment (p. 288).  “The Performance Events were expensive and presented many logistical headaches.”  In addition, he noted:

The biggest problem with using performance assessments in a standards-based accountability system, other than poor reliability, is the impossibility of equating forms longitudinally from year to year or horizontally with other forms of assessment. In Kentucky, because of the amount of time required, each student participated in only one performance assessment task. As a result, items could never be reused from year to year because of the likelihood that students would remember the tasks and their responses. This made equating almost impossible.  

Further details on the problems of equating Performance Events may be found in a technical review in January 1998 by James Catterall and four others for the Commonwealth of Kentucky Legislative Research Commission.  Also informative is a 1995 analysis of Kentucky’s tests by Ronald Hambleton et al.  It is a scanned document and can be made searchable with Adobe Acrobat Professional.  

A slightly optimistic account of what could be learned from the attempt to use writing and mathematics portfolios for assessment can be found in a recent blog by education analyst Richard Innes at Kentucky’s Bluegrass Institute

For more articles on the costs and benefits of student testing, see the following:

Concluding Remarks:

Changing to highly subjective “performance-based assessments” removes any urgent need for content-based questions. That was why the agreed-upon planning documents for teacher licensure tests in Massachusetts (which were required by the Massachusetts Education Reform Act of 1993) specified more multiple-choice questions on content than essay questions in their format (they all included both) and, for their construction, revision, and approval, required content experts as well as practicing teachers with that license, together with education school faculty who taught methods courses (pedagogy) for that license. With the help of the president of the National Evaluation Systems (NES, the state’s licensure test developer) and others in the company, the state was able to get more content experts involved in the test approval process.   What Pearson, a co-owner of these tests, has done since its purchase of NES is unknown. 

For example, it is known that for the Foundations of Reading (90), a licensure test for most prospective teacher of young children (in programs for elementary, early childhood, and special education teachers), Common Core’s beginning reading standards were added to the test description, as were examples for assessing the state’s added standards to the original NES Practice Test.   It is not known if changes were made to the licensure test itself (used by about 6 other states) or to other Common Core-aligned licensure tests or test preparation materials, e.g., for mathematics.   Even if Common Core’s standards are eliminated (as in Florida in 2019 by a governor’s Executive Order), their influence remains in some of the pre-Common Core licensure tests developed in the Bay State—tests that contributed to academically stronger teachers for the state.

It is time for the Bay State’s own legislature to do some prolonged investigations of the costs and benefits of “performance-based assessments” before agreeing to their possibility in Massachusetts and to arguments that may be made by FairTest or others who are eager to eliminate “standardized” testing.

Pioneer Institute Study: Massachusetts “Eviscerates” Its K-12 History Standards

The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education should reject a proposed rewrite of the Massachusetts History and Social Science Curriculum Framework in its entirety and immediately restore the state’s 2003 framework, considered among the strongest in the country, according to a new research paper titled, No Longer a City on a Hill: Massachusetts Degrades Its K-12 History Standards, published by Pioneer Institute.

“The 2018 revision fails to provide effective history education. It must be replaced with a framework that requires much of students but offers them, in return, a share of our common treasure,” wrote the paper’s authors, David Randall, director of research at the National Association of Scholars; Will Fitzhugh, founder of the The Concord Review; and Jane Robbins, senior fellow at the American Principles Project.

The authors argue that the draft of the new framework, released for public comment in January, “eviscerates” the 2003 framework and degrades it in five ways.

  1.  It replaces coherent sequences of American and European history with incoherent fragments.
  2.  It is 50 percent longer than the 2003 framework and presents the standards in “unreadable education-school jargon.”
  3.  It replaces the earlier framework’s full account of our country’s European past and replaces much of it with “the history of politically correct protest movements.”
  4. It allots insufficient time for students to learn European and American history.
  5. It eliminates the already developed 2009 history MCAS assessment and substitutes hollow “expectations” for each grade.

“Each of the 2018 Revision’s failings is sufficient to disqualify it as an adequate standard for K-12 history instruction,” according to the authors. “It should be rejected outright.”

“It’s truly a travesty to see the loss of curriculum standards that helped catapult Massachusetts to national leader in education. First the state replaced its excellent English language arts and math standards with Common Core, and now it discards its stellar history standards in favor of progressive propaganda. This white paper aims to address the heart of these issues and suggest a way the state can reclaim its much lauded educational heritage,” Robbins said in a released statement.

In 2003 the Massachusetts History and Social Science Curriculum Framework was created as part of the Massachusetts Education Reform Act. It contained grade-by-grade standards for core essential learning. While history instruction in K-12 schools has been in decline for decades, according to the authors, history education in Massachusetts has fared better until changes were made in 2009.

In 2009 the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) suspended the history and social science framework. In 2016 the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) introduced a rewrite of the framework, the result of what the authors called “an exercise in progressive educational propaganda and vocational training for how to be a political activist.” The rewrite was approved by BESE and posted for public comment in January 2018.

Along with rejecting the revised standards outright, the authors made several recommendations on ways that DESE could strengthen civics instruction in the state.

These include turning the 2003 framework’s United States Government elective into a required course; endorsing the Civics Education Initiative, already enacted in 15 states, which requires high school students to pass the same test that immigrants applying for U.S. citizenship must pass; and adding a civics component to the MCAS history test.

238 Education Data Bills Hit State Capitols in 2018 So Far

Photo credit: Nick Youngson (CC BY-SA 3.0)

Data Quality Campaign (not our ally in the fight against data mining) provided a snapshot of the number of education data bills hitting state capitol buildings near you.

They report there are 238 bills related to education data this year so far, and less than a third (70) have anything to do with protecting student data privacy.

They highlight bills before state legislators this year where they are trying to “make data work for students.”

Addressing inequities and underserved students’ needs

Echoing national conversations about disciplinary disparities and the unique needs of traditionally underserved students, numerous state bills this year target the reporting of data to address education inequities. For example:

  • Tennessee is considering a bill (HB 2651) to establish a commission on the school-to-prison pipeline. The commission would submit a report to the legislature including school discipline data and policy recommendations to implement restorative justice practices.
  • Indiana has a new law (HB 1314) requiring a report on how the state’s homeless students and students in foster care fare in school and how these students could be better supported.

Informing policy decisions and meeting state goals

Nearly 100 bills considered so far in 2018 have focused on how state policymakers themselves can use aggregate data to make policy decisions or meet their state’s education goals. For example:

  • California has introduced a bill (SB 1224) to create a state longitudinal data system (SLDS) with student data from kindergarten enrollment to workforce entry—a system that could help inform education policies across the state.
  • Mississippi considered a bill (HB 405) to use the state’s education data system to better understand the state’s workforce needs.

Empowering the public with more information

Over 60 bills this year would require states to publicly report more, or more useful and accessible, information about their schools. For example:

  • New Jersey is considering a bill (A 2192) to include data on chronic absence and disciplinary suspensions on school report cards.
  • Arizona is considering a bill (SB 1411) to create a new dashboard as part of the state’s school achievement profiles with new data on academic progress and school quality.

Empowering educators and families with student data

In years past, legislators have not frequently used legislation to give educators and parents secure access to their own student’s data. This year is seeing some more legislative activity on this important priority. For example:

  • Louisiana is considering a bill (SB 107) to ensure that teachers receive student-level assessment results in a format that is easy to understand and includes longitudinal student data if possible.
  • Massachusetts is considering a bill (S 40) that would create an electronic data “backpack” program for foster youth. The backpack would contain a student’s education record and would be available to the adults authorized to make decisions for that student.

The best way to “make data work for students” is to not collect it without parental knowledge and consent and to keep it at the local school level with the teachers where it could possibly do some good. The problem is, evidenced by the Louisiana bill, when data gets collected it heads to the state (and the feds and who knows what other third parties) who don’t teach the kids and have no business having that data.

Co-Author of 1993 MA Ed Reform Act Concerned About Current Policies

Former Massachusetts Senate President Tom Birmingham
Photo Credit: Rappaport Center (CC-By-2.0)

Massachusetts Education Reform Act co-author and Former Massachusetts Senate President Tom Birmingham, who now serves as a distinguished senior fellow in education at the Pioneer Institute, spoke at an event at the Massachusetts State House marking the education reform act’s 25th Anniversary.

Birmingham praised the historic success that has been achieved since the law was enacted in 1993:

If you had told me then that more than 90 percent of our students would pass MCAS and that we would have 13 consecutive years of improvement on SAT scores, or that our students would rank first in the nation in every category and in every grade tested on NAEP between 2005 and 2013, and that they would place at or near the top on gold-standard international math and science tests like the TIMSS, I would have thought you were unrealistically optimistic. We all had ambitious hopes for education reform on that day 25 years ago, but I doubt any of us would have dared to predict the historic successes we have actually enjoyed under the Act.

He shared what K-12 education in Massachusetts was like before the bill:

Before 1993, we witnessed the grossest disparities in spending on our public schools. In some districts we were spending more than $10,000 per child per annum and in others we were spending $3,000. In those circumstances to pretend that we were affording our children anything remotely approaching equal educational opportunity was nothing short of fraudulent.

And the academic quality of education was materially different in virtually every school district across the Commonwealth. Partly as a result of those disparities in spending, the state did precious little to insist on uniform standards. Pre-1993 there were but two state-imposed requirements to get a high school diploma: one year of American history and four years of gym. Clearly a testament more to the lobbying prowess of gym teachers than to any coherent pedagogical vision.

But the Education Reform Act strove to change all this; to change the state funding mechanism and the academic expectations for all our students. I believe we have largely succeeded.

Addressing Massachusetts current standards and tests he said:

With regard to standards and tests, we have jettisoned our tried and true reliance on higher-quality academic standards and MCAS and replaced them with inferior Common Core standards and PARCC testing. It’s worth noting that the PARCC consortia has now lost over two-thirds of its member states; hardly a ringing endorsement. I fear the implementation of Common Core and MCAS 2.0, which is a rebranded version of PARCC, has contributed to Massachusetts being a negative growth state on NAEP reading and math between 2011 and 2015.

Why Massachusetts would settle for having the same English, math, or science standards and rebranded PARCC tests as do Arkansas or Louisiana, whose students could not possible meet Massachusetts performance levels, is puzzling to me. The Common Core and its PARCC-style testing regime represent one of those rare instances where what may be good for the nation as a whole is bad for Massachusetts.

Read his full remarks here.

HT: Pioneer Institute

Five Problems with Massachusetts’ Draft History and Social Science Curriculum Framework

The Pioneer Institute released their public comment on the 2018 Massachusetts Public Comment Draft History and Social Science Curriculum Framework. The authors are David Randall with the National Association of Scholars, Will Fitzbaugh of The Concord Review, and Jane Robbins with American Principles Project.

They open their comment by writing:

The January 2018 Public Comment Draft of the Massachusetts History and Social Science Curriculum Framework (2018 Revision) follows in the footsteps of other recent revisions of the Science, English Language Arts and mathematics standards. In each case, the revised version of the standards has declined in content and coherence. Sadly, the 2018 Revision of the History and Social Science Curriculum Framework eviscerates the 2003 Framework.

They then list five deficiencies:

  1. „The 2003 Framework organized its curriculum around coherent sequences of American and European history; the 2018 Revision substitutes incoherent fragments that obstruct students from learning about historical progression.
  2. „Thee 2003 Framework provided crisply written standards that were easy for teachers to understand and incorporate into their classrooms; the 2018 Revision lengthens the standards by 50% and conveys them in unreadable education-school jargon.
  3. „The 2003 Framework gave students a history that provided a full account of our country’s European past and its own exceptional history; the 2018 Revision replaces much of that narrative with the history of politically correct protest movements.
  4. „The 2003 Framework gave students sufficient time to learn European and American history; the 2018 Revision abbreviates to deficiency the European and American history sequences.
  5. „Perhaps most importantly, the 2003 Framework ensured that parents and the public could judge how well Massachusetts schools taught history by culminating in a statewide test, the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS). e 2018 Revision eliminates assessment, and substitutes meaningless “expectations” for each grade.

They give the following suggestions to the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education for improving civics education in the Bay State.

  • Turn the American Government course, which is an elective in the 2003 Frameworks, into a required course;
  • Add a civics component to the MCAS test; and
  • Endorse the Civics Education Initiative, which has been enacted in 15 states and requires high school students to pass the same test those applying for U.S. citizenship must pass.

This public comment precedes a detailed analysis that the Pioneer Institute said will be released at a later date.

Read the public comment below:

Video: Duke Pesta & Sandra Stotsky Dissect Why Common Core Has Failed

FreedomProject Media released a video last week featuring Dr. Duke Pesta, FreedomProject’s academic director interviewing Dr. Sandra Stotsky, professor emeritus of education reform at the University of Arkansas and author of Massachusetts’ pre-Common Core ELA standards.

They drill down on a new report from the Pioneer Institute that shows how the move to Common Core and their subsequent “new standards” hurt Massachusetts student achievement. The study said the new standards are still inferior to the pre-2010 academic standards.

FreedomProject notes in their description of the video, “Prior to adopting the Core, Massachusetts schools and educational standards were the finest in the nation, in large part because of the work of Dr. Stotsky. Now, Common Core has relegated Massachusetts to the same underachieving, politicized, centralized mediocrity plaguing the rest of the country’s public schools.”

Watch below:

Massachusetts’ New Standards Are Still Inferior to Pre-2010 Standards

The Pioneer Institute released a report co-written by Mark Bauerlein, R. James Milgram, and Jane Robbins this week that reviews Massachusetts new academic standards. You don’t have to guess at their general opinion when you see the title – Mediocrity 2.0: Massachusetts Rebrands Common Core ELA & Math.

The report outlines how K-12 education in Massachusetts declined after they replaced their superior pre-2010 academic standards with Common Core:

How has the move from excellent standards and tests to Common Core and its aligned tests worked out? One of the best ways to answer that question is to rely on the NAEP assessment (the so-called “nation’s report card”), which is administered every two years in reading and math to a sampling of fourth- and eighth-graders in every state. Between 2011 and 2015 (the Common Core era), Massachusetts was one of 16 states in which NAEP reading scores actually fell, and one of 39 states in which NAEP math scores fell. From 2013 to 2015 alone, Massachusetts scores declined in three of the four testing categories.

Evidence of a decline in the performance of Massachusetts students is also observable on the SAT. Since 2006, those scores have dropped by nine points in reading, 10 points in math, and 15 points in writing. Thee writing decline, especially, suggests that the reorientation of English class from classic literature to the “informational texts” of Common Core may be bearing bitter fruit.

Massachusetts in 2016 changed its assessment to an MCAS-PARCC hybrid. They also started on a review and revision of their standards which included Common Core.

They note the new language arts and literacy framework still has the same weakness that Common Core had, it lacks domain knowledge:

Apart from the verbal skill deficiencies that high-school students in Massachusetts fail to overcome during their years in the classroom, the great danger of the current English Language Arts curriculum is that students leave high school with meager domain knowledge. If the standards that are to guide the curriculum do not broach the actual, specific subject matter of the discipline, then the education of students in English falls short. Students may acquire certain skills—the current standards are broken up into Reading, Writing, Language and Speaking/Listening, which each have their skills side— but their knowledge of literature, language, and criticism never develops.

We raise the issue because this is what we see in the 2010 standards and even more so in the new ones. The skills elements in the four areas are solid, but not the knowledge areas.

They note there are four major drawbacks to the new standards:

  1. There is an absence of philology (and therefore of phonetics, lexicology, and references to historical events).
  2. The new framework lacks English and world literary history.
  3. The new framework displaces important civic-literary historical writings
  4. It denies of one of the prime instructions that English used to claim, namely, the recognition of the great, the good, and the mediocre.

They then looked at the math standards:

This analysis focuses on the two major areas that students need to learn in grades one through eight: basic arithmetic, and perhaps somewhat surprisingly, ratios, rates, percents, and proportions…

….The finding was that—aside from a tiny number of added phrases that do not impact the mathematical content in the arithmetic, ratio, rate, percent, and proportion standards in any way—the new document is identical to the, clearly failed, previous one.

Before they provided an analysis they wanted to state that there is no such thing as 21-Century Mathematics:

Before the main analysis can be presented, it is necessary to discuss the idea promulgated by proponents of the Common Core that there is such a thing as 21st- mathematics, such that the mathematics learned by students even 30 years ago is now obsolete. Their claim is that this 21st-century math is focused on problem-solving so that the main focus of instruction should be on the generalized subject of problem-solving.

The truth is radically different. ere is no such generalized subject, and the main objective of math has always been on its use as a crucial tool in solving problems not only in mathematics but in the sciences and any other precisely de ned subject of human endeavor. But in practice, one finds that before problem-solving can begin in any area, the person attempting it has to know as much as possible about that area and the mathematics that most likely will be necessary….

….Even the mathematics that was developed over 2,000 years ago is as essential (and correct) today as it was then. But there are two subjects in mathematics that have become far more important today than they were previously: 1) algorithms and computers, and 2) statistics and data analysis. therefore, these subjects should be covered adequately in the current document—which, of course, is not only not the case, but is as far from actually happening as possible.

Their analysis of the new math standards came to a troubling conclusion:

By eighth grade, the new Massachusetts math standards are at least three full years behind actual expectations in countries such as Korea, China, Japan, Singapore, and the other highest-achieving countries in the world in the most important mathematics the students are expected to learn. Further, if these standards continue to be faithfully followed for the rest of these students’ K–12 experience, the students will be even more than three years behind.

Read the whole report below:

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With New MCAS-PARCC Hybrid Half of Massachusetts Students Fall Short

Common Core is so rigorous! It’s going to help prepare students for college and career! We’ll see higher rates of student achievement!

Well, perhaps not so much. Massachusetts used to be the crème de la crème of K-12 education. Now according to the new MCAS-PARCC hybrid assessment, half of their students fall short.

The Boston Herald reported this week:

The results may come as a surprise to many students who passed or scored “proficient” on the previous test, but this year’s test was tougher and raised the bar for expectations.

This year, state education officials said, should be considered a baseline year, and they expect scores to change over time as schools adjust.

In other words, the results do not mean individual students declined, but that the new test measures education in a different, more accurate way, officials said.

“It doesn’t mean that your child has changed from last year to this year,” said Jacqueline Reis, DESE spokeswoman. “It’s that we’re sending a clearer signal.”

“This isn’t because we have failing schools,” said Acting Commissioner Jeff Wulfson. “This is because we want to make sure our kids are ready for college work. When we have 80 percent of kids scoring proficient and then needing college-remedial work, we’re not doing them any favors.”

The story, of course, reports that the assessment is “tougher,” but does not explain how. How was the bar raised? How are the results more accurate? I think the state’s Common Core cheerleaders should answer why only half of the state’s students are proficient after several years with the new standards.

Massachusetts Includes SEL Survey To Be Administered With MCAS

A parent in Massachusetts who also serves on her local elementary school’s school committee shared with me information from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education regarding the administration of a social-emotional learning survey that focuses on school climate.

Schools, she said after asking her school administrator were not told to notify parents. Currently, schools can opt not to give this survey to their students, but that could change.

Here is the FAQs sheet from DESE.

Currently, the information collected will not be used for school accountability, but they haven’t closed the door on that.

Below are the survey questions for each grade. The questions so far are innocuous, but will they remain that way? That remains to be seen. SEL doesn’t stop with school climate. Will they survey family climate next? Then there is a simple fact they are adding to their assessment time.

Regardless, parents should be aware what the state of Massachusetts, through their local schools, asks their students.

Massachusetts Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester Dead at 65

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education announced on Tuesday that Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester passed away on Monday night after a fight with cancer. He was 65.

Chester began his career as an elementary school teacher in Connecticut and later served as a middle school assistant principal and district curriculum coordinator. From there he moved to the Connecticut State Department of Education, where he oversaw curriculum and instructional programs. In 1997, he was named the executive director for accountability and assessment for Philadelphia. In 2001, he moved to Ohio, where he served as the senior associate superintendent for policy and accountability for the Ohio Department of Education. He was named Massachusetts’ education commissioner in 2008.

Chester was a proponent of the Common Core State Standards. He also chaired the PARCC Board of Governors until the state pulled back to create a PARCC-MCAS hybrid assessment.

“On behalf of the entire administration, Lieutenant Governor Polito and I extend our deepest condolences to Commissioner Chester’s family, friends and colleagues at the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education during this difficult time,” Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker said. “Commissioner Chester was a dedicated educator and accomplished public servant. His leadership improved the lives of thousands of the Commonwealth’s students and helped make our public school system a national leader. He will be terribly missed by all.”

“Mitchell Chester was proud of the Commonwealth’s strong education system and dedicated to spreading that strength to all students, whether they lived in Lawrence or the Berkshires,” Education Secretary James Peyser stated. “He will be sorely missed.”

“Mitchell brought his tremendous intellect, a listening ear, and his concern for students to the work of the Board and the Department,” Board of Elementary and Secondary Education Chair Paul Sagan stated. “The strength and dedication of his team reflects his strength and passion as a leader, and his passing is a loss for Massachusetts.”

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education named Deputy Commissioner Jeff Wulfson acting commissioner.