Principals make plans to address MCAS concerns
At Oak Bluffs School and Edgartown School, some subgroups of students did not meet target Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) goals on this year's MCAS results. As a result, administrators and teachers are already making plans to address these areas of concern.
Last year, Oak Bluffs School was identified as a district in need of improvement because target progress goals in English language arts (ELA) were not met for the special education and low income subgroups. In math, the special education subgroup did not meet target AYP goals.
The school's designation as needing improvement required revising the school's improvement plan, addressing specific subjects, grade levels, and student groups that did not make AYP, and developing a written plan in three months, assistant superintendent Laurie Halt said.
Yesterday, Oak Bluffs School principal Laury Binney said preliminary 2009 MCAS results show that the school did make excellent progress in its aggregate scores. The school also shed its AYP status in English language arts for the special education subgroup and in math for the low-income subgroup.
"So out of the four subgroups, we actually were able to get rid of three of the citations," Mr. Binney said. "We still did not make the AYP goals in English language arts in the low-income subgroup that we have to deal with, and there are some penalties attached to that, of course, which is unfortunate, but we will deal with it. But I'm feeling very good about how the staff has responded and how the kids have responded."
As a result of the second year designation as needing improvement, Mr. Binney said he is in the process of setting up a required after-school tutoring program for the students that have been identified as needing extra help.
The state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education mandates that the Federal Title I funds that the school receives must be used for the tutoring program, Mr. Binney said, although no additional funds will be forthcoming.
Most schools would be required to contract state tutoring agencies, Mr. Binney said. However, since Oak Bluffs School is on an Island, he received a waiver and can send some of his staff members to be trained to do the tutoring.
"The bigger picture for our school is one of progress and how the majority of our students is performing quite well," Mr. Binney said.
At Edgartown School, special education and low-income subgroups did not make AYP in math and ELA this year. "The good news here is that for both math and ELA, our trajectory, at least based on beginning four years ago, continues to climb upward," principal John Stevens said. "Even though we didn't make AYP, we're still improving, and it's close."
Based on Edgartown School's MCAS scores, the subgroups that did not achieve AYP will be a focus, Mr. Stevens said. "The kids that scored less than 100 CPI points, either in the needs improvement category or warning category, they become a priority for our remedial teachers who bring them into their caseload, and use their remedial programming and curriculum and expertise to work on their weaknesses," he said. The students will be assigned to the caseloads of four remedial teachers, two in math and two in reading.
"Because the MCAS really tests the Massachusetts state frameworks in the curriculums, so it's a good thing," Mr. Stevens added. "Those are standards for learning that stand by themselves."
Despite the lack of two subgroups achieving AYP, there is plenty of good news in Edgartown School's MCAS scores, Mr. Stevens pointed out. Every class made gains from the previous years in the number of students who scored advanced and proficient, with the exception of fifth-graders in math.
Math scores for third-grade students in 2008, however, improved from 68 percent advanced or proficient to 72 percent this year for the same group, who are now fourth-graders. Special education fifth-graders in 2008 improved their scores of 60 percent advanced or proficient to 75 percent as sixth graders in 2009.
"I think the curriculum is very supportive of what we try to do with the MCAS; it's just that we have a lot of needy kids, a lot of challenging kids, and we have an MCAS expectation that I think is very difficult to meet," Mr. Stevens said.