WAKEFIELD — As anticipated, the 2021 MCAS results released this week reflect a certain amount of pandemic-related learning loss when compared to the 2019 test, although the degree of learning loss varied depending on the subject area and grade level. The state did not administer MCAS tests in spring 2020, near the start of the pandemic, so the most recent year to compare with this year’s scores is 2019.
The Massachusetts Department of Education released the results for all school districts this week. Results for each grade (3-10) are displayed alongside statewide results. Also shown are aggregated results for grades 3-8.
In Wakefield, grades 3-8 English scores slipped slightly from 55 percent “meeting or exceeding expectations” in 2019 to 53 percent in 2021.
In mathematics, the slippage was somewhat greater. In 2019, 52 percent of Wakefield grade 3-8 students met or exceeded expectations in math, but in 2021, only 39 percent did.
In science, however, the trend was reversed. Fifty-four percent of Wakefield students in grades 3-8 exceeded expectations in the 2021 MCAS, an increase over the 2019 number of 50 percent.
The grade 10 scores in English Language Arts came in at 70 percent “meeting or exceeding expectations” in both 2019 and 2021. In math, however, 10th grade scores dipped from 68 percent meeting or exceeding expectations in 2019 to 61 percent in 2021.
Those trends are confirmed at the opposite end of the spectrum. In 2019, 7 percent of Wakefield students in grades 3-8 were “not meeting expectations” in English Language Arts. In this year’s test, that number increased to 10 percent.
Similarly, in mathematics, 7 percent of local grade 3-8 students failed to meet expectations in 2019, compared to 12 percent in 2021.
In science the numbers were identical in both years, with 8 percent of students failing to meet expectations.
In all areas, Wakefield students performed significantly better than the statewide averages on the 2021 MCAS, suggesting a lesser degree of learning loss locally than that seen statewide.
In English, the 53 percent of Wakefield students meeting or exceeding expectations compared favorably to the statewide percent of 46.
In math, 39 percent of Wakefield students met or exceeded expectations, compared to 33 percent statewide.
In science, Wakefield students performed considerably better this year than the statewide average. Fifty-four percent of local students met or exceeded expectations in science compared to just 42 percent of students in Massachusetts.
According to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, statewide assessments help parents, students, educators and policymakers determine where districts, schools and students are meeting expectations and where they need additional support. The 2021 test also identifies academic areas impacted by the pandemic that caused school year disruptions in 2020.
“The MCAS tests administered in the spring provide Massachusetts educators and families with critical insight into where students did not progress academically, and the results clearly illustrate how the disrupted school year of remote and hybrid learning impacted students’ academic achievement,” said Secretary of Education James Peyser. “We will continue to work with districts to support efforts to regain learning that did not happen and promote student success and educational equity.”
“This data will help shed light on where additional support is most needed and as districts determine how to best use federal relief funds and state aid, these results can help inform their approach,” said Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeffrey C. Riley. “DESE will continue to work with districts to remediate learning and provide opportunities to students in programs like Acceleration Academies and others.”
Massachusetts school districts will receive approximately $2.8 billion in state and federal pandemic relief money in the three and a half years between the 2021-22 school year and fall 2024. The money is primarily in the form of federal coronavirus relief funds, and districts can spend it on a wide-range of priorities in order to meet students’ academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs resulting from the pandemic.
Due to the disruption caused by the pandemic, and following a vote by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education in June, DESE is not issuing new accountability determinations for districts and schools this year. (Accountability designations take into account MCAS scores, MCAS growth, graduation rates, attendance, and other measures.) Districts and schools will retain the accountability designation they had before the pandemic, and DESE will resume making accountability designations in 2022.