MELROSE — The city’s public school students made some progress last spring during 2014 MCAS testing, the results of which were recently released and discussed at Tuesday’s School Committee meeting.
Scores also reveal some troubling trends, including lower than expected achievement at Veterans Memorial Middle School.
Supt. of School Cyndy Taymore said, “As we began the MCAS testing period last March, the district leadership team posited a set of expectations based on the work we have been doing across all levels and content areas in the district. Our expectations were as follows:
• The elementary schools would meet their target goals as a result of the work completed in training staff in best practices, in aligning the curriculum, and the use of new of instructional materials.
• Progress would be made in Math scores at the elementary schools due to the new Math materials, an aligned curriculum, and the implementation of the Math practices.
• Progress would be made in open response scores at the elementary level as a result of professional development and a standardized approach for writing across all content areas.
• Scores at the high school would continue to improve, meeting its target goal. The high school would meet its target of 95 percent participation of all subgroups so it could be classified Level 1.
• The middle school would show some progress in English Language Arts as a result of a stronger writing component and implementation of close reading strategies.
• High school Science scores would show significant progress due to changes made in the last two years in programming, curriculum, common assessment, and new resources.
• The achievement gap for African American and low-income students at the high school would be reduced due to targeted interventions and supports provided.
• Progress would be made in improving scores for special education students at the high school as a result of changes in practice implemented in the fall of 2013.
The MCAS results were released to the public Friday, September 19. Each individual school will be presenting its specific results at school-based meetings over the next two weeks. Some key points of the results are:
• Four elementary schools, Lincoln, Hoover, Winthrop, and Roosevelt, are classified Level 1 having met their target improvement goals.
• The Lincoln School is a commended school for narrowing the achievement gap. This is the second year in a row for Lincoln to receive this commendation.
• The Hoover School is a commended school for narrowing the achievement gap and for high achievement. (Note: We are one of only four communities to have two commended schools.)
• The Hoover, Lincoln, and Roosevelt Schools saw an increase in the number of students achieving advanced in ELA, Math, and Science.
• The Horace Mann School saw an increase in the number of students achieving advanced in ELA.
• The Winthrop saw an increase in the number of students achieving advanced in Math.
• The elementary schools saw in increase in the percentage of correct open response questions as follows: Math: 10 points in grade 4 Math; 12 points in grade 5 Math; and 7 points in grade 5 ELA.
• The Horace Mann showed improvement but did not meet its target goal for all students. It declined for the high needs subgroup. This has resulted in the Horace Mann being classified a Level 3 school.
• The middle school maintained its Level 2 status. MVMMS saw no change overall for all students on the ELA, Math, and Science MCAS. On the ELA MCAS, high needs subgroups showed improvement but did not meet its target goal. On the Math MCAS, high needs subgroups declined.
• Grade six overall saw a six-point increase in students achieving Advanced on the Math MCAS.
• Grade 8 ELA scores improved with 90% of all students at proficient or advanced. Additionally, grade 8 narrowed the ELA achievement gap for all subgroups except students with disabilities.
• Melrose High School met its target academic improvement goal, but only met 94.444 percent of its target participation goal, classifying it as Level 2. We have filed an accountability appeal for the participation rate.
• Melrose High School met or exceeded its English Language Arts target goal for all subgroups, eliminating the achievement gap. Ninety-seven percent of all students are proficient or advanced in English Language Arts.
• Melrose High School exceeded its Math target goal for all subgroups, narrowing the achievement gap. Overall, eighty-six percent of all students are proficient or advanced in Math.
• Melrose High School grade 10 Science MCAS recorded 84% of all students achieving proficient or advanced scores, an improvement of 20 points from last year.
Taymore said, “While we are pleased that we are making progress, we are concerned with the implications from some of the data:
• The middle school scores are stagnant for all students. The decline in the Math scores for high needs subgroups is unacceptable. Our African American students’ performance on the Science MCAS is particularly concerning.
• The middle school scores for open response questions are flat, indicating a lack of consistency in practice when teaching response to text and writing in Math.
• ELA scores for high needs subgroups in grades 3 to 8 are not making sufficient progress.
• Math scores for high needs subgroups (except low income and Asian) at grades 3-8 are not making sufficient progress.
• Science scores at grades five and eight, while above state averages, indicate a need to realign our curriculum and improve our instructional practices.
• All students need to be held to the same expectations and standards. In particular, special education students in grades 3-8 need to have more access to the standards based curriculum with appropriate supports and opportunities for remediation and re-teaching.
• The Horace Mann School will need additional supports and professional development. The Horace Mann Principal, the district leadership, and the Horace Mann School Council are developing a comprehensive plan to address needs identified through the data analysis.
Taymore said a number of next steps that will target areas of need but also continue to support and expand areas of growth. The steps to be taken are specific to the content area and the grade level but may be divided into six foci:
1. Increase monitoring of teaching and learning across all classrooms to assure the consistent use of best practices and an aligned curriculum.
2. Complete the item analysis of all MCAS tests and provide feedback and training for areas in the curriculum that need to be deepened or realigned.
3. Conduct more frequent, but quick informal assessments of all students to progress monitor student mastery and needs for re-teaching.
4. Conduct in-depth analysis of sub group data to determine individual and grade level student needs and to identify gaps in the delivery of a standards based curriculum to all students.
5. Provide supports and professional development individually and to grade/content level educators based on the data and observation of practice so that they may improve instruction and outcomes.
6. Continue to increase rigor and the consistent use of student centered instruction in order to develop deeper learning opportunities.
Taymore continued, “We know that our Melrose educators and support staff are committed to providing all our students with high-quality instruction so that each student may grow academically and personally. We believe the work we have been doing over the past two years is showing results and will continue to do so over the next few years as we deepen our practices and curriculum through ongoing professional development, in class supports, and continuous feedback. We will work as a district to provide both our students and staff with the resources and opportunities necessary for the success of all our students. Please join us at individual building presentations over the next two weeks so that you can participate in the discussion as to how we can achieve this goal.”
Individual building level meetings are planned as listed below. These will be publically posted meetings.
Lincoln School: October 1 at 7 p.m.
Horace Mann: October 1 at 5:30 p.m.
Roosevelt: October 1 at 6:30 p.m.
Winthrop School: October 2 at 6 p.m.
Melrose High: October 6 at 7 p.m.
Hoover School: October 6 at 7 p.m.
MVMMS: October 8 at 6 p.m.