Wareham students show improvement under revamped MCAS test
“Next-generation” MCAS scores released Thursday showed Wareham students are making strides under a new system for measuring school quality and academic achievement.
Last year marked the first time students in grades three through eight across Massachusetts took the revamped MCAS test. The new computer-based assessment replaced old paper tests introduced between 1996 and 2006. Officials said while those tests varied widely from grade-to-grade, next-generation MCAS is designed to be consistent. That should provide a snapshot of student readiness for the next grade level and eventually college.
The new test focuses on critical thinking, knowledge application and the ability to make connections between reading and writing. Students in grade 10 will take start taking next-generation MCAS exams in 2019.
New scores fall into four categories: exceeding expectations, meeting expectations, partially meeting expectations and not meeting expectations.
Wareham student scores either improved or remained the same overall compared to last year.
In a combined “meeting/exceeding” expectations score, Wareham Middle School students scored a 41 percent in English language arts (the same as last year’s score) while mathematics scores increased 5 percentage points, up to 30 percent.
In the same category, Minot School students saw English language arts “meeting/exceeding” scores rise 2 percentage points to 34 percent and mathematics scores rise 5 percentage points to 33.
State scores in that category for 2018 are 51 percent for English language arts and 48 percent for mathematics.
Wareham students made strides in some areas, including grades five and eight English scores. Grade five students in the meeting expectations category jumped 13 percentage points, up from 35 percent in 2017 to 48 percent this year. Grade eight students in the same category and subject scored 37 percent, up 8 percentage points.
Grades five and eight mathematics scores also increased, going from 22 percent to 35 percent and 24 percent to 31 percent, respectively.
Fifth grade students made dramatic strides in the not meeting expectations categories in both English and math. English scores in not meeting expectations dropped from 19 percent to 5 percent while mathematics scores went from 24 percent to 11 percent.
Tenth grade students, who took the old version of MCAS, lagged behind the state in nearly all categories. That version of the test is scored as follows: proficient or higher, advanced, proficient, needs improvement and warning/failing.
Tenth grade English language arts scores were 87 percent to the state’s 91 percent in proficient or higher; 41 percent to 51 percent in advanced; 46 to 40 percent in proficient; 11 percent to 6 percent in needs improvement and both scores were 3 percent for warning/failing.
Tenth grade mathematics scores were 67 percent to the state’s 78 percent in proficient or higher; 38 percent to 51 percent in advanced; 29 to 27 percent in proficient; 26 percent to 14 percent in needs improvement and 7 percent to the state’s 8 percent warning/failing.
Tenth grade science scores were 53 percent to the state’s 74 percent in proficient or higher; 15 percent to 32 percent in advanced; 38 to 43 percent in proficient; 41 percent to 21 percent in needs improvement and 6 percent to the state’s 5 percent warning/failing.
These students also lagged behind their neighbors in towns such as Bourne and Middleborough who surpassed them in all three categories for scores proficient or higher.
Tenth grade English language arts scores in Bourne and Middleborough were 95 percent and 93 percent proficient or higher respectively; tenth grade mathematics scores were 77 percent and 85 percent in proficient or higher and tenth grade science scores were 75 percent and 84 percent in proficient or higher.
Thursday’s release also unveiled new accountability measures for schools and districts. Previously, schools were rated on a system of levels from 1 to 5, with 5 marking state receivership. Last year, Wareham officials celebrated when MCAS scores boosted the district from a Level 3 to a Level 2 school.
Under the new system, schools will be designated as either: a school of recognition, meeting targets/partially meeting targets, requiring targeted assistance or requiring broad comprehensive support. The new rating system takes into account many factors, including science, mathematics, and English scores, graduation rates, absenteeism, drop out rates and academic growth scores among others.
MCAS scores revealed that Wareham Middle School was partially meeting targets while Minot School was meeting targets. Neither school was listed as requiring assistance or intervention. According to state data, 85 percent of schools do not require assistance.
Superintendent Dr. Kimberly Shaver-Hood lauded the fact that all students made progress under the new accountability ratings for English language arts, mathematics and science.
”We are thrilled to share significant progress in our students’ 2018 results,” said Shaver-Hood.
She noted that English accountability scores at the high school, middle school and Minot, exceeded target, improved below the target and exceeded target, respectively. Mathematics scores at the high school, middle school and Minot had identical ratings.
“While our work continues, significant progress has been made and will continue as we work to provide students access to rigorous educational opportunities,” said Shaver-Hood.