Local Students Score Well On MCAS, PARCC Tests

By: Alan Pollock

Topics: Monomoy Regional School District , Education , Monomoy Regional High School , Cape Cod Tech , Monomoy Regional Middle School , Cape Cod Lighthouse Charter School , Chatham Elementary School , Harwich Elementary School

In the alphabet soup of state standardized tests, local students have once again risen to the top.

Results of the spring Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) tests were released Monday afternoon, and students in the Monomoy Regional School District, Cape Cod Tech and the Cape Cod Lighthouse Charter School performed well.

It is the last year the two dueling tests will be administered; next year, they will be replaced by a new assessment called MCAS 2.0. PARCC tests students' knowledge of English language arts and mathematics, but not science, engineering or technology. For that reason, some districts, including Monomoy, used both tests this spring. Cape Tech and Lighthouse Charter School opted to use MCAS only.

PARCC test-takers score in five levels, with Level 1 students not meeting expectations, and Level 5 students exceeding expectations. In tests for almost half the subjects and grades, more than 50 percent of Monomoy students tested in the top two levels.

The strongest PARCC scores in the Monomoy district were in the middle school grades, where 59 percent of eighth graders and 64 percent of sixth graders scored in the top two levels in English. In grade six math, 69 percent of students scored in Level 4 and Level 5. Monomoy's weakest PARCC scores were in mathematics, where just 42 percent of fourth and seventh grade students placed in the top two tiers, and only 38 percent of eighth graders.

In science, technology and engineering, 57 percent of Monomoy fifth graders placed in the top two tiers, compared to 47 percent statewide. While grade eight science scores lagged slightly behind the state average, by 10th grade, 82 percent of kids scored in the top two levels, compared to the state average of 73 percent.

Cape Tech 10th graders had a strong showing in the spring MCAS tests. Though very slightly behind the state average in mathematics, Tech students were significantly ahead of the rest of the state in the science, technology and engineering test, with 75 percent of kids testing “proficient” or higher, compared to just 54 percent elsewhere in Massachusetts. In English language arts, 95 percent of tech students scored in the top two tiers of scores.

At the Lighthouse Charter School, standardized test scores can fluctuate year-to-year because of the small number of students, around 80 pupils per grade. Still, charter school students scored well, particularly in English language arts. The number of students in the top two MCAS test tiers was 80 percent in sixth grade, 93 percent in seventh grade and 87 percent in eighth grade. Lighthouse scores were weakest in grade six mathematics, where nearly half of students scored in the “needs improvement” or “warning/failing” categories.

The state's Department of Elementary and Secondary Education also grades schools on a scale of five levels, based on how many students reach proficiency in certain testing areas. Originally based on the No Child Left Behind Act, the scoring system now sets a less ambitious goal of goal of reducing schools' proficiency gaps by half by the end of the 2016-17 school year.

All schools in Monomoy, as well as Cape Tech and the Lighthouse Charter School, scored in Level 2 because they were not meeting their goals of narrowing proficiency gaps by half. On the Lower Cape, the only school to achieve its goal was Nauset Regional High School.