During October’s Revere School Committee meeting Revere Public School Administrator Dr. Lourenco Garcia gave the committee an overview of the state’s new MCAS scoring and accountability system.
Last year the state made changes to the MCAS testing format and scoring. The new MCAS assessment was created with input from teachers following a thorough review and update of the state’s curriculum frameworks. Both the frameworks and the next- generation MCAS were developed with the active involvement of hundreds of experienced Massachusetts teachers and educators from all over the Commonwealth to ensure the state provide every child with the opportunity they deserve to graduate high school ready for college or a career.
On the the old MCAS scoring and accountability methods, the four scoring categories were Advanced, Proficient, Needs Improvement, and Warning/Failing. On the new MCAS, the four scoring categories are Exceeding Expectations, Meeting Expectations, Partially Meeting Expectations, and Not Meeting Expectations. The new categories emphasize readiness for higher-level work at the next grade level.
“The purpose of this presentation is to update members of the School Committee and residents of Revere and the impact it will have on our students,” said Dr. Garcia at the meeting. “The accountability system is aimed at measuring school and district performances to help improve the performance of all students.”
Dr. Garcia said he was very pleased with the new system because it will better gauge how Revere Schools and students are performing and in what areas the state should intervene and provide assistance or other types of support.
“This new system is very progressive and adds different indicators that not only measure student performance on the test but also takes into account other things students are doing outside the test to improve their education,” said Dr. Garcia.
Dr. Garcia argues that the old scoring and accountability put far too much pressure on principals and schools that were deemed ‘turn around’ schools under the old MCAS system due to poor test results.
“The new system also focuses on students that have been traditionally marginalized in our school district,” said Dr. Garcia.
The new scoring and accountability will be more comprehensive than just MCAS test results. Scoring will now take into account not only the traditional test score, but student growth on the MCAS; whether or not a student is on target for graduating High School in four years; progress students have made in becoming English Language proficient; as well as the rate of absenteeism of students.
The state has pointed out that in some subjects and grades, fewer students scored Meeting or Exceeding Expectations this year than scored Proficient or Advanced in previous years. This does not mean that students learned less but reflects the fact that the next-generation MCAS measures more rigorous standards in a different way.
In Revere Dr. Garcia said the school district overall was ‘Partially Meeting Expectations’ under the new accountability system.
However, Dr. Garcia said this was good news for Revere because the state ruled that Revere schools did not require or need assistance or intervention.
“This is good news for the district because when a school district is required to have assistance or intervention that is a problem,” said Dr. Garcia. “That’s when the Department of Education will assign a lot of intervention and specialists to help. While this is not a bad thing we’ve shown over the years we can certainly move our district forward on our own.”