MCAS Results are a Mixed Bag as District Awaits PARCC Test

October 1, 2015
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The Revere Public Schools reported mixed results on the MCAS test this year, but the true test is still something they’re waiting on.

Supt. Dianne Kelly reported this week that only a minimal amount of MCAS results were forwarded to the district, as it has mostly transitioned to the federal PARCC test.

The PARCC results aren’t expected until mid-November.

That said, the district did receive some results, and while there were some things to celebrate, much of the math and science results showed flat lining or steps backward.

A full set of results were available for the 10th grade MCAS exam at Revere High School.

In English Language Arts (ELA), RHS showed great gains.

The numbers of advanced students went up from 29 percent to 35 percent, while the proficient students remained steady at 55 percent. That gave the district a total of 90 percent that were advanced or proficient, which is right at the state average of 91 percent.

At the same time, the numbers of failing students decreased from 5 percent to 4 percent.

“We’re really pleased at the high school with ELA,” she said. “We increased the percentage of advanced scores and are just at the state average for advanced and proficient.”

However, those results are tempered by some backtracking in math.

In math, the numbers of advanced students went from 50 percent to 45 percent. Meanwhile, the numbers of needs improvement and failing scores increased from 24 percent to 29 percent.

The numbers of advanced and proficient students was 72 percent, while the state average was 78 percent.

“That’s definitely an area we need to work on,” she said. “Math and science are two areas we look at as areas of opportunity. The high school is going to have to focus some attention on these areas. The teachers and principal have been focusing on that, but they’ll have to dig a little deeper to see where there are areas that we need to work on.”

She said one change could be that they might add a math coach at the high school.

“There’s a Literacy Coach there, but not a Math Coach,” she said. “We do have a Math Coach at other schools.”

In Science, the high school Biology test showed that the numbers of advanced and proficient students went from 65 percent to 63 percent, with the state average at 73 percent.

In 8th grade science, the numbers of needs improvement and failing scores went from 60 percent to 66 percent. Also, in 5th grade science, the numbers went from 49 percent to 55 percent.

Kelly said the science scores are something that has caused the district to think about the root of the lower scores.

One thing, Kelly said, is the need for new science labs at the high school.

“In science, we have antiquated labs,” she said. “Could that play a role here? You cannot offer the same level of education if you don’t have the resources…We don’t have enough science labs for the numbers of students that now take science. Half of our science classes are taking place in a traditional classroom without sinks, or expanded electrical outlets or places to conduct experiments.”

All of that said, the district is particularly more interested in the new PARCC test results.

Two years ago, the McKinley School, Paul Revere School and Susan B. Anthony Middle School took the PARCC as a pilot program. This year, all the grades took the test – which is fully computerized and not done on paper. The difference being that there are two high school tests, in grades 9 and 11. Grade 10 will not be tested for the PARCC test.

“It’s definitely a more rigorous test,” she said.

Instead of multiple-choice questions, the PARCC does things such as ask students to read a paragraph and watch a movie and then synthesize the two sources of information.

“The kids really liked it better, especially in ELA,” she said. “In grades 5, 8, and 10 the kids had to do a long composition in MCAS. They had to write it out and then revise it in the same session. When you think of that, it’s almost sinful that we ask kids to take a day and do that when we all have computers and word processors everywhere.”

She said they don’t expect the PARCC results to be as high as MCAS results have been because it is a new test.

“We expect the PARCC results will be not as high as what we experienced with MCAS because it’s a more rigorous test and it’s new,” she said.

  • David McGeney

    Don’t Buy the Lie. The lie that common core will better prepare students for college and career (absolutely no emperical data) The lie that Mitchell Chester can be objective when he serves as the Chairman of PARCC. The lie that Massachusetts would be better off abandoning a system that has made them then gold standard of education. The lie that common core is not a federal over reach. The lie that the student data collected will always remain private. The lie that more testing equals better learning. And that’s just for starters.
    Keep Massachusetts #1.

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