Mattapoisett School Committee reviews MCAS scores, new accountability measures

Oct 29, 2018

MATTAPOISETT — The Mattapoisett School Committee on Monday assessed the “next-generation” MCAS scores released earlier this year, revealing student scores far above the state average and new school accountability measures.

Last year, the computer-based exams were first introduced to students in grades three through eight across Massachusetts to replace old paper tests. The new test focuses on critical thinking, knowledge application and making connections between reading and writing. 

New scores fall into four categories: exceeding expectations, meeting expectations, partially meeting expectations and not meeting expectations.

Old Hammondtown Associate Principal Kevin Tavares said that this year’s scores showed Mattapoisett student are doing well under the new system and are performing above state scores. 

The state scores, in a combined “meeting or exceeding” expectations category, are 51 percent for English language arts and 48 percent for mathematics. 

The combined scores for Mattapoisett students, grades three through six, were 74 percent in English language arts and 65 percent in mathematics, far above the state. 

The sixth grades scores in English language arts at Old Hammondtown were particularly high, with 90 percent of students meeting or exceeding expectations.  

Thursday’s scores also unveiled new accountability measures for schools and districts. Previously, schools were rated on a system of levels from 1 to 5, with 5 marking state receivership.

Elise Frangos, the assistant superintendent of curriculum, instruction and assessment, briefed the school committee on the new measures which track the lowest performing students and ask schools to elevate the learning of these students. 

The new rating system takes into account scores out of four possible points in the following: academic achievement in science, mathematics, and English, student growth, and chronic absenteeism, denoted as missing 10 percent or more of days attended by individual students. Frangos added that the new absenteeism measure does not differentiate between excused or unexcused absences. 

Under the new scoring system, schools will be designated as either: a school of recognition, meeting targets/partially meeting targets, requiring targeted assistance or requiring broad comprehensive support.

At Center School, the school received zero out of four points for achievement in English and mathematics, meaning they met none of their targets. Frangos said that there were targets set for each school based on data from 2017 but, because Mattapoisett schools were unaware of the new system until the summer, they were unable to meet the targets. 

Chronic absenteeism also received a zero out of four, so Center School is considered to only be partially meeting the targets. 

“Though that may seem a tad alarming, it really is not, because we didn’t know what the targets were,” said Frangos. 

Old Hammondtown scored considerably better under the system. The school received a four out of four in achievement for English and a three out of four for mathematics. The lowest performing group of students scored the same in both categories. Chronic absenteeism scores we up at Old Hammondtown as well, with three out of four for all students. 

The scores mean that Old Hammondtown is meeting the targets under the accountability system. The school earned 80 percent of possible points for all students and 88 percent for its lowest performing students.

“I think we have a lot to be proud of,” said Tavares. “We have some areas of weakness that we need to focus on but I think we have a plan in place to identify those.”  

The Committee also quickly approved its new two-year strategic plan, which heavily reflects the district-wide “Vision 2023” plan passed on Sept. 27 by the Joint School Committee. The plan focuses on a three-pronged approach which includes teaching students to be 21st century learners through project based learning, fostering their social and emotional competency, and making them global citizens. 

Mattapoisett schools will use the first year of the plan to examine the current systems that the school has in place, and in the second year they will begin provide teachers will examples of goals.