Island MCAS scores mixed, but results positive overall

School superintendent Matt D’Andrea said the test scores show signs of progress and where there is room for improvement.

Last school year, the Up-Island Regional School District accepted 57 students for the school-choice program. The West Tisbury School, shown here. — Sam Moore

Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) and Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) tests scores released Monday by the Massachusetts Department of Education place the Oak Bluffs, Chilmark, and Tisbury schools at level one, meeting goals for narrowing proficiency gaps between students. Level one is the highest of the five state designations describing how schools meet their educational goals.

Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) and West Tisbury School landed at level two, failing to meet their performance goals, but making progress in math and areas for students with disabilities.

Edgartown was designated level two for low assessment participation, defined as less than 95 percent. Superintendent of Martha’s Vineyard Public Schools Matt D’Andrea told The Times that a subgroup had 93.5 percent participation, or 29 out of 31 students. The school has appealed the designation to the Massachusetts Department of Education because one student had a medical exemption. Mr. D’Andrea said he’s confident that Edgartown will be returned to a level one school after the appeal.

“The test results, overall, I thought were very positive,” Mr. D’Andrea said. “There are areas across the Island where we have made progress and areas that we’ve moved students along in a positive fashion academically.”

As for the results, Mr. D’Andrea was pleased that Oak Bluffs and Chilmark schools continued at the level one designation. He said that Tisbury “did a tremendous job,” moving from a level two to a level one school due to high test scores. Both MVRHS and West Tisbury remained at level two; however, Mr. D’Andrea said they are making progress, and will get back to level one.

Charter School at three

The Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School was placed at level three due to low participation. Director Bob Moore said only 85 percent of students took the test, but scored in the advanced or proficient categories. Mr. Moore told The Times on Wednesday that he hoped for better participation next year. 

Mr. Moore broke down the results in a statement he emailed to The Times:

“The Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School received a level 3 designation from the 2016 PARCC/MCAS testing due to a high percentage of students not taking the test. If more than 10 percent of the students do not take the test, the school is automatically designated a level 3 rating. The percentage of students in each grade who did not take the test is as follows: Grade 3 (18%), grade 4 (17%), grade 5 (11%), grade 6 (20%), grade 7 (0%), and grade 8 (30%). The Charter School is designated a level 3 school solely due to the low percentage of students taking the test. 94% of grade 10 students performed at the proficient or advanced levels in their English Language Arts and Mathematics MCAS tests.”

MCAS explained

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.

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.

Across the state, districts were given the option to transition from MCAS to PARCC tests. On the Vineyard, grades three through eight took the PARCC tests for ELA and math. Tenth graders took the MCAS, and all students took the MCAS for science.

Mr. D’Andrea said the next generation of testing will be what he called a hybrid of the two, an online assessment that will start in the spring of 2017.

A total of 517 of 1,605 schools statewide, or 32 percent, are classified as level one for meeting their performance benchmarks, including gap-narrowing goals. Another 795 schools, or 50 percent, are classified as level two; while 255 schools, or 16 percent, are classified as level three for not meeting their gap-narrowing goals or for MCAS participation of less than 95 percent.