MCAS results show Wareham scores below state averages

Oct 18, 2017

The 2017 MCAS results were released Wednesday, revealing Wareham students continue to lag academically compared with the rest of the state, but some programs are providing a bright spot for future improvements, said Superintendent Dr. Kimberly Shaver-Hood.

Scores showed that far fewer Wareham students are “exceeding or meeting expectations” in mathematics and English language arts compared to students across Massachusetts.

The Massachusetts Department of Education revamped the test for this past spring's session and it has more rigorous standards compared to the old one. Students in grades three through eight took the test. Wareham High School students will continue to take the traditional test until 2019. This year, improved test scores boosted the school's rating from a Level 3 to a Level 2 school.

(For more on Wareham High School's test scores, click here.)

Students take the new version of the test on computers, rather than using paper. The scores are: exceeding expectations, meeting expectations, partially meeting expectations and not meeting expectations. Previous scores were: proficient or higher, advanced, proficient, needs improvement and warning/failing.

Shaver-Hood noted that teachers worked to prepare students for the new online test. She said a change in the mathematics curriculum and new literacy programs show promise for increasing scores in the future.

At Decas Elementary, the results from an early literacy study released in June revealed a vast improvement in reading skills with the implementation of a new program. In February, kindergarten students were tested for reading fluency using the Developmental Reading Assessment. Then in April, they were re-tested after receiving 20 to 25 days of reading intervention. The process was repeated and the students were tested again in June.

In February, 55 percent of students did not meet the target reading level, but by June, that number dropped to 6 percent. Based on those results, the program was launched again this summer at Decas Elementary and will be offered at Minot Forest Elementary.

Shaver-Hood credited teachers for the improvement as well.

"We have outstanding educators who are being allowed to meet the needs of our students," said Shaver-Hood.

Shaver-Hood said that currently administrators are reviewing the test results. The combined scores for Wareham students in grades three through eight for English language arts in the meeting or exceeding category is 37 percent. Statewide that number is 49 percent.

Mathematics scores for Wareham students in the meeting or exceeding category is 26 percent. Statewide that number is 48 percent.

In the not meeting expectations category, Wareham students scored 16 percent compared to the state’s 10 percent for English Language Arts. In mathematics, Wareham students scored 24 percent compared to the state’s 12 percent in the not meeting expectations category.

The MCAS assessment was updated after 20 years to a version called next-generation MCAS, which was given for the first time in spring 2017 to grades three through eight in English language arts and mathematics. High school students are still taking the former version of the MCAS test and the next-generation test will be introduced in spring 2019 for high schools.

The new assessment was created with the input of hundreds of teachers after the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education voted to create an updated, Massachusetts-specific test. The test is intended to give a better indication whether students are ready for the next grade and for college and a career. It focuses on critical thinking and making connections between reading and writing.

Approximately 50 percent of third through eighth grade students statewide scored in the Meeting or Exceeding Expectations categories on the new test. A higher percentage of students are expected to score meeting expectations or above in the future, since schools and students will become acclimated to the new test’s expectations. The new standards for meeting expectations are more rigorous than the standards for achieving the proficient level were on the old assessment.

Parents can expect to receive their child's scores from their school district in late October or early November. For the complete results from the State Department of Education, click this link.

For more Wareham results, see below.

Meeting or exceeding expectations

Grade 3

Reading: Wareham, 27 percent; state, 47 percent

Mathematics: Wareham, 25 percent; state, 49 percent

Grade 4

English Language Arts: Wareham, 35 percent; state, 48 percent

Mathematics: Wareham, 31 percent; state, 49 percent

Grade 5

English Language Arts: Wareham, 38 percent; state, 49 percent

Mathematics: Wareham, 23 percent; state, 46 percent

Grade 6

English Language Arts: Wareham, 40 percent; state, 51 percent

Mathematics: Wareham, 21 percent; state, 50 percent

Grade 7

English Language Arts: Wareham, 48 percent; state, 50 percent

Mathematics: Wareham, 27 percent; state, 47 percent

Grade 8

English Language Arts: Wareham, 31 percent; state, 49 percent

Mathematics: Wareham, 28 percent; state, 48 percent