Freshmen Feel Unprepared by Physics Curriculum for MCAS


Eman Abdurezak

Students are frustrated that the MCAS content and physics curriculum do not align.

Al Pirani, Contributing Writer

On the first two days of February, students who were enrolled in freshmen physics during the first semester took the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS). The MCAS is an online exam that Massachusetts public schools administer every year to track whether students are meeting expectations for a certain course. In order to graduate from CRLS, you must pass the math, English, and physics exams. A passing score is around 33%. In previous years, the MCAS tested students in the spring, but this year, CRLS had eligible students take the test in February so that the physics content remained fresh in their brains. 

Although CRLS is making large strides to allow students to take the exam in the winter, students who sat the exam suggest there is still work to be done. Emma Shaw ’26, who took physics during the first semester, told the Register Forum, “I think that the MCAS could be improved by prioritizing the curriculum in physics as to what is going to be on the MCAS … versus what’s going to be on the final, because the MCAS is more important.” 

Beyond the CRLS freshman population, upperclassmen shared a similar sentiment that the physics curriculum needs improvement to more adequately prepare test-takers. Anneliese Mattox ’24 took the math, physics, and English exams during her high school years and explained to the Register Forum, “I think that they could actually teach us what’s going to be on the tests because, for example, on the physics test they didn’t teach us the portion about wavelengths and the same applies to the sophomore geometry MCAS.” 

Many of the MCAS pros and cons vary from class to class, proving that not every exam will be a success for all students. Sami Friedman-Wellisch ’23 emphasized to the Register Forum, “For English … there are many ways that students process information, and written tests often are not the best way for students to show what they know. In terms of grammar, students rarely work on information in the way that the MCAS asks, meaning that they are not as well prepared.”

CRLS is making large strides to allow students to take the exam in the winter.”

Students tend to have similar critiques of the MCAS: certain classes aren’t doing enough review and are not teaching the specific topics covered on the standardized test. Students of all grades agree that in order to be successful on these exams, the teachers are responsible for preparing their students. For example, on the freshman physics MCAS, not all teachers are able to cover the concept of waves, which appears on the exam. If teachers leave students to study certain concepts on their own without their guidance, then there is a greater chance that a student won’t do as well on the exam, risking their chances of graduating. The MCAS may not change, but CRLS has the power to prepare our student population in the future for their own success. 

This article also appears in our February 2023 print edition.