Published in the October 25, 2018 edition


WAKEFIELD — Based on last spring’s MCAS tests, all public schools in Wakefield have met or partially met targets set by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). That means that all Wakefield schools have achieved the DESE accountability classification, “Not requiring assistance or intervention.”

Accountability classifications are based on achievement and growth as measured by MCAS, progress towards ELL (English Language Learners) proficiency and additional factors such as absenteeism. MCAS makes up the bulk of this accountability structure, but additional factors are also considered in this classification system.

Schools that fail to meet targets are subject to intervention from DESE to correct deficiencies. No Wakefield schools fall into that category. Wakefield schools joined 74 percent of schools in Massachusetts and 90 percent of districts in not requiring assistance or intervention from the state.

“This is a positive place for us to be at,” said Wakefield Academy Director Matthew Carter at Tuesday’s School Committee meeting. Carter, who also works with data for the school district, joined Assistant Superintendent Kara Mauro in reporting the MCAS.

In 2018, Massachusetts continued the process of transitioning the MCAS program to “next-generation” tests. The next-generation tests include new test designs and item types and are intended to be administered primarily via computer. During the transition, a combination of next-generation and “legacy” tests has been administered in local schools.

Carter noted that, grade by grade, the majority of Wakefield’s accomplishments in both ELA and math were above statewide levels.

Mauro displayed graphs showing where Wakefield stood in terms of average ELA and math scores for grades 3-8 compared to comparable school districts. In both categories, Wakefield fell somewhere in the middle of the pack while meeting expectations.

Mauro reviewed the Grade 5 Science and Technology/Engineering scores. She noted that these students took the legacy test, so comparisons to previous years were possible. She said that these scores have been pretty consistent over the years, with about half the students scoring at the “Advanced” or “Proficient” level and about half needing improvement or in “warning” level. She said that efforts will be made to improve these scores.

Carter reviewed the Grade 8 Science Tech/Engineering scores, noting that fewer students scored in the “Warning” level than previous years. But he also noted that only 42 percent of students scored in the “Advanced or “Proficient” level, adding that there will be discussions on how to improve those scores.

Moving to the Wakefield Memorial High School results, Carter noted that 94 percent of Grade 10 students scored proficient or higher in ELA, higher than the state average of 91 percent.

The Grade 10 scores in Math were a bit lower, with 86 percent scoring proficient or higher but still above the state average of 78 percent.

In Science and Tech/Engineering, 78 percent of grade 10 students scored proficient or higher, compared with the state average of 74 percent.

In their presentation, Mauro and Carter focused mainly on district-wide MCAS results, but they did highlight a number individual schools for notable achievements.

At the Dolbeare School, 95 percent of students are meeting DESE defined targets.At the Galvin Middle School, 61 percent of 8th grade students scored proficient or exceeding expectations in math.No students at the Greenwood School scored in the “not meeting expectations” range in English Language Arts.Wakefield Memorial High School students exceeded the target for overall ELA achievement.The Walton School was identified by the state as a School of Recognition — exceeding targets in achievement and growth.At the Woodville School, 89 percent of students are meeting DESE defined targets.Mauro said that she and Carter had met with teachers, administrators, curriculum coordinators and others and had formulated some potential areas of focus moving forward.

Those areas include: conducting a data inventory across the district; analyzing the structure of meetings where data and assessment are discussed; facilitating continued conversations regarding aligned instructional strategies and standards across the district; analyzing data across levels to support transition work; and collaborating with school leaders to utilize their instructional leadership team, data teams and school councils to analyze available data and determine best next steps.

School Superintendent Douglas Lyons stressed that the individual student reports that parents receive have a lot of valuable information and he urged parents to contact the schools and ask any questions that they may have.

Lyons also noted that the schools look at data a number of levels, including by individual student, class, school and district. He said that the scores serve as a prompt for educators to ask questions and make improvements.

Mauro and Carter discussed the results with School Committee members answering questions about how the data are analyzed and used as well as what it means for the future.