Newton's MCAS Scores Released: Five Things You Need to Know

In general, all schools and grades scored well above the state average.

The Massachusetts Department of Education released yesterday the spring 2012 scores for the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System -- otherwise known as MCAS.

A chart with basic performance information is included at the bottom of this article and the district's full results are available on the DOE website. Below are five pieces of information to know about the Newton scores:


1. No more 'No Child Left Behind'

In previous years, the district has had to work on meeting benchmarks outlined by the federal No Child Left Behind act. However, starting in the 2012-13 school year, Massachusetts has waived NCLB requirements. Instead of meeting the NCLB requirements of 100 percent proficiency in the district, the state's new accountability goal looks for reducing proficiency gaps by half by 2017.

A full explanation of the state's new accountability system is available online.

2. Grade 10 scores soar

Above all, the district's 10th graders (current 11th graders) had the highest scores among the grades tested; 96 percent of the students scored proficient or higher on the English Language Arts (ELA) test, 94 percent scored proficient or higher on math and 87 percent scored proficient or higher on science and/technology. 

Compared to 2011, more 10th graders in the district scored advanced on all three exams.

The biggest difference was on the science/technology exam, where 11 more students scored advanced. However, two more students scored in the warning category.


3. English scores remain strong, Grade 8 Science/Tech still a struggle

Across all grades, the ELA tests had higher scores than both the math and science/technology exams.

One of the lowest points for the district was the Grade 8 science/technology exam. Although the scores improved from last year, they just leveled off with the scores from 2010. 

Grade 8 Science/Tech 2010 2011 2012 Advanced 11 8 11 Proficient 53 49 52 Needs Improvement 29 36 28 Warning/Failing 8 7 9

Out of all the exams and grade levels, the Grade 8 science/technology exam had the highest percentage of warning/failing (9 percent) and the highest number of needs improvement (28 percent). As a result, this exam had the lowest percentage of students score advanced or proficient (63 percent).

Nevertheless, the scores on this exam still surpass the state average.


4. "High needs" students fall short of target score

Similar to previous years, Newton's scores were above the state average. Overall, the district's student body scored an 89 Cumulative Progress and Performance Index (PPI) score, well over the target of 75. 

According to the DOE's MCAS glossary, "The cumulative PPI combines information about narrowing proficiency gaps, growth, and graduation and dropout rates over the most recent four-year period into a single number between 0 and 100."

Nevertheless, the district's "high needs" students (students with disabilities, low income students or English language learners), did not meet the district's target, scoring a 71. Over the years, the district has been working on trying to close the "achievement gap" between those minority groups, also known as "subgroups."

When the scores are broken down by group, Newton's low income, disabled, African American and Hispanic students did not meet the target score of 75. The English language learners, Asian and multi-race students did meet the target.


5. District labeled "Level 2"

Based on the MCAS scores and participation rates, schools and school districts are ranked Level 1-5. The level is based on the district's Cumulative Progress and Performance Index (PPI) score (see description in No. 5 above). 

Level 1 schools/districts have high overall achievement and meet all the goals for narrowing achievement gaps between the whole student body and minority student subgroups. Level 5 schools are the lowest on the scale and the districts/schools most in need of improvement.

Out of the 21 Newton Public Schools, nine schools are ranked at Level 2: Angier, route: {:controller=>"listings", :action=>"show", :id=>"angier-elementary-school"} -->, , , , , , , and

Margaret Albright September 20, 2012 at 01:08 PM
Melanie this is a good write up. I encourage parents to learn more about these measures, especially the measures that show student progress, progress in closing achievement gaps and progress in moving proficient students to advanced - another measure the state has instituted.


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