Somerville's MCAS Scores Show Slight Improvements and Declines

2012 MCAS results show 53 percent of Somerville students are proficient or higher in English and 40 percent are proficient or higher in math.

In Somerville, 53 percent of public school students are "proficient" or "advanced" in English, and 40 percent are "proficient" or "advanced" in math, according to MCAS results released Wednesday.

For English, that represents a slight improvement over previous years. In 2011, 52 percent of students were proficient or higher in English, and the number was 51 percent in both 2010 and 2009.

The 2012 math MCAS results, where 40 percent of students scored "proficient" or "advanced," were the same as 2011, but the numbers were slightly higher in 2010 (42 percent) and 2009 (41 percent).

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education uses the annual MCAS—Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System—exams to evaluate student performance. Students in grades 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 10 took the exam in spring of 2012, and, as stated above, the results were released Wednesday.

You can see Somerville's 2012 MCAS results here.

How does Somerville compare?

Somerville continues to lag behind statewide scores, where 69 percent of all Massachusetts students scored proficient or higher in English and 59 percent scored proficient or higher in math.

By way of comparison, in Cambridge, those numbers were 66 percent for English and 58 percent for math. In Boston they were 46 and 41, respectively.

English up, math a bit down

The Somerville Public School District Wednesday pointed to some improvements in scores.

Among them, 74 percent of 10th grade students scored proficient or higher in English, the highest percentage in at least four years.

At the same time, 10th grade math scores were the lowest in at least four years, though the results have remained more or less the same. In 2012, 59 percent of 10th graders scored proficient or higher in math, but that number was 61 percent in 2011, 60 percent on 2010 and 60 percent in 2009.

The school district also pointed to a growth in Student Growth Percentile scores, which measure Somerville students against peers in other communities with similar performance histories.

The school district also saw a five-year low in the drop-out rate, the school district said Wednesday.

Paula Woolley September 20, 2012 at 12:48 PM
I hope you'll update your story to include the one important detail left out, which is a comparison of the populations of these schools. Our students are more similar to Boston's students than to those in Cambridge or in the state, and this explains our numbers. I'm compelled to write because many parents look at the MCAS scores of a school system and think of them as the be-all and end-all of the schools' "quality." As a parent of two children who have attended/are now attending SPS from K to grade 12, I know that students CAN succeed in our schools, and feel MCAS is in general more a sign of a school's population than a sign of whether it's a "good" school or whether its teachers are "good" teachers. From the Mass DOE website, under Special Populations: Somerville Boston Cambridge State % ESL students 52 45 27 17 % Limited English 16 31 5 7 Low income 69 69 48 35 These student populations (unfortunately) traditionally score lower on the MCAS than other groups. Since our population is more similar to that of Boston, It's more appropriate to compare our students' scores to Boston's than to those of Cambridge: Somerville Boston ELA Prof. 53% 46 . Math Prof 40 41
Paula Woolley September 20, 2012 at 12:52 PM
To finish my comment: For those who nevertheless are hooked on MCAS scores, look at the Somerville results broken down by schools, and you'll find that some classes at the Argenziano, Brown, and WSNS Schools scored in the top 100 of the state's 881 elementary schools (or 473 middle schools), with some classes scoring 17th, 40th, and 47th place in the state.
Chris Orchard (Editor) September 20, 2012 at 01:48 PM
Hi Paula, You make excellent comments. I hope people don't misconstrue this article, which reports in broad terms about the MCAS results that were released yesterday, as a judgment, one way or the other, on Somerville schools. The results are what they are, and people do look at them and want to know when they're released. I also encourage people to click on the link above to look at the results in more detail. If anyone else has thoughts, please share.
Warren Dew September 23, 2012 at 04:42 AM
Paula, I agree that your data doesn't mean that the schools are poorly managed. From the standpoint of a parent, though, it could still be to one's advantge to move to a district which doesn't have the overhead of dealing with so many students with limited knowledge of English, and which can thus focus better on teaching the native English speakers. Where can we find information on individual Somerville schools?
Jane Becker October 05, 2012 at 03:23 PM
Warren- From the standpoint of this parent of an SHS graduate now attending Wellesley College and an SHS 11th grade student it has been a huge advantage to be in a district with such a diverse population. My children are aware of the challenges that others face learning English; they are aware of their "luck" in life; they appreciate and are empathetic to others; they are citizens of the globe and understand various different perspecitves on world events. You can not pay for this kind of education anywhere ( unless you attend the UN school in New York, maybe). So instead of thinking of the disadvantages this district has in teaching limited English speakers why not think of the advantages your child will have in the world by growing up in such a global community.
Warren Dew October 05, 2012 at 11:41 PM
Jane, SAT scores and calculus and physics achievement scores in the 700+ range would be far more reassuring than an implication that I should be willing to sacrifice my kids' actual learning in favor of politically correct indoctrination.


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »