Mattapoisett MCAS scores steady, despite pandemic

Dec 6, 2021

MATTAPOISETT — For the Old Rochester Regional School District’s third school to present its MCAS results, consistency was key, and administrators found several things to be proud of despite pandemic disruptions.

Superintendent of Schools Michael Nelson and Associate Principal Kevin Tavares both said that MCAS was only one lens through which they look at their students, and that they take a “whole pupil approach.”

Nelson said the scores this year showed some differences, but overall he was still proud of Mattapoisett’s results and said the faculty, families and students should be commended.

The state Department of Education cancelled MCAS in 2020, and modified the test this year, allowing students to take it for only one session and in-school or at home.

The MCAS are scored in four categories. Students are ranked as “exceeding expectations,” “meeting expectations,” “partially meeting expectations,” or “not meeting expectations.”

Across all grades in English Language Arts, 59% of students were meeting expectations, up from 54% in 2019 and about the same as the 60% in 2018.

In the grade 3 to 6 math tests, 49% of the students met expectations, a slight dip from the 56% of students who made the category in 2019. But this year’s score was still about 22% above the state percentage of 29%. State mathematics scores also took a dip.

Fifth graders are the only students to take the science MCAS test, and while the number of students in the “meeting expectations” categories stayed virtually the same since 2019, the school improved on its performance by having no students in the state’s lowest category.

Across all three test categories that the fifth grade took (English Language Arts, mathematics and science), 73% or higher of the students met or exceeded the state’s expectations.

Tavares called the third grade performance in particular “very impressive, considering what they went through.” Mattapoisett’s third graders met or outperformed the state in both English and Math scores when they took the test for the first time. There were no students in the “not meeting expectations” category for English.

The state adjusted its formulas to allow schools to show an accurate Student Growth Percentile in 2019 and 2021. In both English and Math, Mattapoisett students were in the high growth and high achievement quadrant, and significantly outperformed the state.

Tavares said that school administrators are tracking individual questions where students performed below the state expectations, and will look at similar questions, their curriculum and instructional practices to improve.

School Committee member Carole Clifford noted that this year results are “like a one-off” because of the unique pandemic circumstances. The state has already released the schedule for MCAS this year, and anticipates that they will return to their standard format.

School Committee Chair Jim Muse said that he was not a fan of standardized tests in general, but appreciated educators’ efforts to use the results and improve their teaching.