Martha’s Vineyard schools receive mixed MCAS report card

Oak Bluffs School. — File photo

MCAS tests scores released Friday place the Oak Bluffs, Chilmark and Edgartown schools at level one, the highest of the five state designations within which schools are required to meet their educational goals.

The Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School, West Tisbury School, Tisbury School and the Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School landed at level two, meaning they failed to meet their performance goals, but continue to demonstrate progress and improvement.

MCAS exams are the state’s standards-based student assessment program. Last spring, tests in English language arts (ELA) and math were administered statewide to students in grades 3-8 and 10, and science and technology/engineering to students in grades 5, 8, and 9/10.

Martha’s Vineyard Public Schools (MVPS) James Weiss described the test scores as a “mixed bag,” in a press release issued Friday afternoon.

“First, Oak Bluffs, Edgartown and Chilmark remain level one schools, with strong Progress and Performance Indices (PPI),” Mr. Weiss said. “The high school remains a level two school. For the first time, Tisbury and West Tisbury are level two schools.”

Under a new accountability system put into effect in 2012, all schools with sufficient data are classified into levels one to five, with the highest performing in level one. The designation is based on a school’s progress and how well it meets growth targets, relative to other schools across the state that serve the same, or similar grades.

A total of 424 of 1,615 schools statewide, or 26 percent, are classified as level one for meeting their performance benchmarks, including gap narrowing goals. Another 854 schools, or 53 percent, are classified as level two, for not meeting their gap narrowing goals or for MCAS participation of less than 95 percent.

Mr. Weiss said although the Tisbury School dropped to a level two school, it continues to make progress in its overall performance.

“At West Tisbury, the upper grades have shown progress with more than 95 percent of students at or above proficient in English Language Arts; however, it did not show the amount of growth needed to continue as a Level 1 school,” he added.

Although designated a level 2 school for the second year in a row, Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) is above target in English Language Arts for closing the achievement gap, Mr. Weiss said.

“It will need to focus on writing to see significant growth going forward,” he said. “In mathematics, it has made progress but still remains below target.”

PARCC impact

Mr. Weiss also pointed out that MCAS scores differ this year in that some students were exempt from the 2014 spring tests in ELA and math because their schools participated in a new assessment field test, Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC). No scores were released for the PARCC ELA and math tests, which are being considered as a replacement for MCAS.

“Last year saw all the elementary schools piloting the new PARCC tests in some grades, and we are unsure what impact those pilots had on overall scores,” Mr. Weiss noted. “The MCAS results focus upon closing the gap between all students and the various sub-groups. Since all Island schools are all high achieving schools, the amount of growth needed to remain on target is difficult to reach.”

Highlights and next steps

Among the highlights of the MCAS results, Mr. Weiss said, Oak Bluffs School demonstrated significant growth in some of the demographic subgroups, with the high needs category at a PPI of 85.

“The school continues to make progress in mathematics and writing, receiving bonus points for moving students from needs improvement to proficient,” Mr. Weiss noted. “ At Edgartown, the school remains solid in both English Language Arts and mathematics, with an overall PPI of 84.”

Mr. Weiss said school staff have just begun their review of the MCAS results and much work remains to be done.

“Under the direction of assistant superintendent Matt D’Andrea and the individual school principals, staff across the Island will look closely at what the MCAS data shows us and adjust instructional strategies where needed,” he said.

Charter School results

Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School (MVPCS) director Bob Moore spoke with The Times Friday afternoon about the MCAS results. “There are some results we’re really pleased about, and there are areas which we need to pay attention to, which we are looking forward to,” he said.

“We’re really pleased in some areas, where many of our student scored in the advanced category in math and science,” he said. “Those are really indications that the work we’ve been putting in, particularly in the area of math, has been very helpful for our students.”

Among the highlights, 100 percent of students scored proficient or higher on grade 8 ELA , grade 10 ELA, and grade 10 science tests.

Mr. Moore said he had not reviewed all of the data yet, including why MVPCS was designated a Level 2 school for the third year in a row.

“I assume it’s because the growth we saw was good, but maybe not as good as expected at the state level,” he said.

Full MCAS results are available online at