MCAS test: State's students showing progress


MALDEN -- Massachusetts education officials say the state's 10th-graders have performed better than ever on the MCAS exam, while minority students are closing the achievement gap.

On Monday, the state released the 2012 statewide results of the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System exams. Results detailing district and individual school scores will be released to the public on Wednesday.

The Department of Ele men tary and Secondary Edu cation said that statewide, 88 percent of 10th-graders scored "proficient" or higher in English language arts in 2012, while 78 percent scored "proficient" or higher in mathematics.

By comparison, 38 percent of students in English and 24 percent in mathematics scored proficient or better in 1998, when MCAS exams were first administered.

Black students have narrowed the achievement gap with white students compared to five years ago, with gains of between three to eight points on four tests in English and three to five points on three mathematics tests.

Comparing 2012 to 2008 scores, Hispanic and Latino students have narrowed the achievement gap with white students between four and nine points on four English tests and three points on two mathematics tests.

Across all grades tested in 2012, student performance increased on nine of 17 MCAS tests since last year and on 14 of 17 tests since five years ago.

Declines reflected in 2012 MCAS results occurred on Grade 3 mathematics and Grade 5 English exams.

Sixty-one percent of third graders scored proficient or better in mathematics in 2012, down from 66 percent last year. On the Grade 5 English test, 61 percent scored proficient or higher, down from 67 percent in 2011.

"We are extremely proud of how far we have come in raising the bar for all of our students to reach their full potential," said Education Secretary Paul Reville in a statement released Monday. "Our strategies are working, but we know there is much more to be done to ensure all means all."

This year's test results will yield different indications for schools and districts. Gone are metrics like "adequate yearly progress" or AYP, since the state received a waiver this year from the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

NCLB required that all U.S. students -- regardless of learning ability and economic status -- must score at a level of proficient or better on state exams by 2014.

The state's new rating system includes five tiers of accountability classification and the goal of reducing the proficiency gap by half by the 2016-17 school year.

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