Thursday, September 25, 2008

MCAS Results Only Tell Part of the Story

This week brought the annual release of MCAS scores from the Department of Education and the annual school and district rankings on boston.com. While we look forward to each and every opportunity to gauge our school's progress by looking at students assessment data, please keep in mind that MCAS is a minimum standard that students must meet and that looking at a school solely through MCAS data does not provide a complete picture. Click on the link that follows for a look at the Burlington MCAS scores.

When analyzing MCAS results, or any assessment of this type, it is important to know what a school's scores have looked like over a period of time. For instance in ELA here at the high school, we are quite pleased with the fact that we have seen our scores in the top two scoring categories (proficient and advanced) rise steadily over the past three years. In 2006 83% of our students were in the top two categories and this number rose to 87% in 2007 and 90% in 2008.
Our math scores took a slight dip this year, falling to 83% in the top two categories after having 91% of our students in advanced and proficient in 2007. That was a significant gain from 84% in 2006. While we are not pleased to see this type of decrease in performance from one year to the next, we have to remember that we are comparing the scores of two different groups of students. In addition, it should be noted that we continue to perform better than 10% above the state average in the top two categories. Finally, our percentage of students failing the test (2%) is much better than the state average (9%).

On the Science tests, BHS had 81% of its students tested in the top two categories compared to the state average of 57%. The Science MCAS was new last year as a test that counts towards graduation (the Class of 2010 and following classes must pass one of the science MCAS tests along with Math and ELA to receive a high school diploma). Breaking down the Science MCAS scores for BHS, 85% of the students who took the Biology MCAS scored in the top two categories while 69% of the students who took the Physics MCAS (at BHS these werer all 9th graders) scored in the top two categories.

As is the protocol each year, our departments will look at the MCAS results of our students and use the information to help them modify instructional approaches and assessments as needed. We welcome your questions comments and feedback on our school's results.


1 comment:

  1. MCAS are only part of the story. I know BHS's focus has been and will continue to be on quality instruction. The leap of faith is that as instruction continuously improves, so does student achievement by all external measures - MCAS, AP, PSAT, SAT, ACT, etc... Internal measures are just as important or even more important. It would be great if we had an internal assessment report that we released at the same time as MCAS scores. A report like this would force us to identify what is important to us.

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