Friday, March 26, 1999
Congratulations on MCAS results
A congratulatory proclamation from the Carlisle Board of Selectmen for Carlisle School students' performance on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) test was read to the school committee by Superintendent Davida Fox-Melanson.
At the meeting of March 16, Fox-Melanson also read a letter that the selectmen received from Education Commissioner David Driscoll saying that because the MCAS test scores were high, the town could choose to spend less than the state-mandated minimum on education. The state would then also reduce state aid to the 1993 level. The superintendent said she was "appalled" that the state would reward good performance with an offer to reduce funding. Chair David Dockterman added,"This is a disincentive to do well." He speculated that this measure may have been added at the time the education reform bill was pushed through so that towns that were feeling burdened by mandated increases in spending would see a way out if they did well.
Choosing to reduce school funding and state aid is optional. "I know Carlisle will not take this route," Fox-Melanson said. Carlisle has always funded the school above the minimum level, she added.
Although Carlisle students did well on the tests, there is still room for improvement. The teachers and curriculum coordinators have completed an analysis of the 1998 MCAS test results to see where weaknesses exist in the Carlisle curriculum. Some changes are being made as a result.
In language arts, there will be changes in the core literature to add more poetry and autobiography, and to include more books that also cover social studies topics. Dictionary skills will be explicitly taught with more sets of dictionaries available in classrooms. There will also be additional practice on open-ended response questions which require answers of several complete sentences or paragraphs.
Students also found open-response questions more difficult in math, so they will have more practice in that area. In science, there will also be more emphasis on writing and some minor adjustments to the grade level at which some topics are covered.
This will be the first year that the MCAS social studies test will be scored for the eighth grade. The fourth grade will take a preliminary social studies test that will not be scored. There is less agreement on what constitutes an appropriate curriculum in social studies than in the other subjects, Fox-Melanson said. It will be interesting to see the test results.
© 1999 The Carlisle Mosquito