MCAS scores improve among Island students
Martha's Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) tenth grade students achieved improved scores and met improvement targets on the 2006 Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) exams, according to results released yesterday by the state Department of Education (DOE). In doing so, the Island students surpassed state averages.
At MVRHS, 98 percent of the 10th grade students passed the English exam and 97 percent the math exam, compared to statewide results of 93 percent and 88 percent, respectively.
"We are very pleased with the results from the high school," superintendent of Martha's Vineyard Public Schools James Weiss said yesterday.
(The results are available on the DOE web site at www.doe.mass.edu/mcas)
Almost half of the MVRHS students achieved math scores in the advanced/above proficient level, and outpaced students statewide by five percentage points in English language arts (ELA) scores in the advanced/above proficient level.
MVRHS principal Peg Regan said the students' MCAS scores were excellent, and that once again the high school met its Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) improvement goal. She explained that every year the AYP target goes up by a certain number of points and with a steady upward plateau it becomes harder and harder to meet.
The composite performance index (CPI), which is used to measure performance and improvement for the purposes of AYP determination and improvement ratings, runs from 0 to 100. The high school achieved a 92.1 CPI for English and a 91.7 CPI for math. Those numbers, determined at the end of a two-year cycle, are very good, Mr. Weiss said.
"In terms of the number of kids who took the tests and passed both on the first try, the results were excellent," Ms. Regan said. "We're very proud of our students and how seriously they take the exam. The teachers worked hard to prepare the students for the exam and to teach to the framework of the test so they are able to recognize it when they take it."
Ms. Regan said the regional high school did well compared to previous results longitudinally, as well as compared to state results. "We are inching kids up to the proficient and advanced levels every year, and out of the needs improvement level," she noted.
"We're very happy. We've been steadily improving and that's all that matters," Ms. Regan said. "The community support we have helps a lot. The class size we're given contributes to being able to prepare kids for this exam."
Scores for tenth graders statewide on the 2006 MCAS exams rose significantly and showed the most improvement, while the performance of elementary and middle school students remained flat or in some cases declined, according to a report released last week from the state DOE. The report did not provide individual district scores.
Mr. Weiss said preliminary AYP reports he received a few weeks ago showed all of the Island schools achieved their target goals in English and math.
"We've also seen a preliminary report on the kindergarten through grade eight MCAS results, which will be released in mid-October, and we're pleased with what we see," Mr. Weiss added.
Results for the five tenth graders from Martha's Vineyard Public Charter School who took the MCAS exam are not available on the DOE web site, because it does not include the performance level percentages for schools with less than 10 students tested.
In a press release posted on the state DOE web site, state education commissioner David P. Driscoll hailed the tenth grade results as "the best we've ever seen" since the MCAS tests were first given in 1998. An unprecedented 84 percent of high school sophomores passed both the English and math tests on their first try, up from 68 percent in 2001, the first year students were required to pass the test to graduate, he said.
Statewide results showed that sophomores' scores improved significantly on both the English language arts (ELA) and math exams. The percentage performing at the proficient and advanced levels in ELA rose from 64 to 70 percent, and in math from 61 to 67 percent in the same categories.
The federal No Child Left Behind law required that all states administer annual reading and mathematics tests in grades 3 through 8 and one grade in high school, beginning in the 2005-2006 school year.
Massachusetts students in grades 3 through 8 and grade 10 are required to take the MCAS test to measure a school's ability to meet state-set standards for students in the subject areas of math, English, and science. In the lower grades, the scores are used to make sure students are on track with the state curriculum.
In addition to meeting the requirements of the Education Reform Law, the MCAS tests also fulfill the requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law, which requires schools to demonstrate that their students are making academic progress.
Results on the MCAS tests at grade 4 through 10 are reported in performance levels which include advanced, proficient, needs improvement, and warning (grade 3) or failing (grade 10). Students who score in the first three categories pass the test.
All high school students must pass both the MCAS math and English exams, which require a score in the needs improvement category or higher, in order to graduate. The NCLB law states that by 2014, all students will be required to reach proficiency in reading and math, meaning they will have to score 20 points above the needs improvement score, which now sets the bar for passing.