MCAS Scores Out for Somerville Public Schools
2011 MCAS results show 52 percent of Somerville students are proficient or more than proficient in English; in math the number is 40 percent.
In Somerville, 52 percent of students are "proficient" or "advanced" in English, and in math, 40 percent of students are "proficient" or "advanced," according to recent MCAS results.
Results from the spring 2011 MCAS—Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System— tests were released on Monday.
The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education uses the annual MCAS exam to evaluate how well students, schools and districts are meeting the objective of the federal No Child Left Behind Act: that all students be proficient in reading and math by 2014.
Students in grades 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 10 took the exam last spring.
The results show that, overall, Somerville students scored less than students across the state.
One exception was the 54 percent of 10th grade students in Somerville who received a grade of "proficient" in the English, compared to the 51 percent of students statewide who placed at that level. That said, statewide, 33 percent of 10th grade students were "advanced" in English, compared to 12 percent in Somerville.
MCAS results are categorized as "advaced," "proficient," "needs improvement" and "warning/failing."
“Those are good numbers,” said Assistant Superintendent Dr. Vince McKay, speaking about 10th grade English results, during a presentation Tuesday evening to the Somerville School Committee. “We can build on that.”
Meanwhile, 30 percent of 10th grade students had an advanced understanding of math, and 27 percent were proficient in it. But another 30 percent of them needed to improve their grasp of the subject, and 11 percent were failing.
Further, a quarter of all Somerville students who took the mathematics exam landed in the “warning/failing” category.
Educators also look at the student growth percentile, which measures the change in achievement over time. In English, the percentile increased from 2010 to 2011 in grades four through seven, according to McKay. It declined slightly, from 52.2 percent to 51.2 percent, in grade eight. The most alarming change, he said, happened in grade 10, with the percentile dropping 11 points, from 50 to 39.
“We don’t know what that’s about,” he said.
Students must pass each of the sections to graduate from high school. Somerville High School offers retesting and tutoring for students who fail any of the sections on their first try.
McKay and Superintendent Tony Pierantozzi said the rising numbers of students whose first language was not English (52 percent), who had limited proficiency in the language (18 percent) and who were from needy families (68.3 percent) make for a “complicated student population” to prepare for the MCAS.
Nevertheless, McKay said, “we don’t make excuses for our performance, and we hold high expectations for our students.”
See the MCAS results for each school in the district on the state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education website or on The Boston Globe’s chart of the data.