The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, November 9, 2001


Boston Globe MCAS rankings ignore Carlisle

Each year, to add to the MCAS madness, the Boston Globe combines arbitrarily selected MCAS scores for each school district and uses the totals to create a competitive ranking. Last year, when the Globe added the average English/language arts, math, and science scores for the fourth, eighth, and tenth grades, Carlisle's fourth and eighth grades were the highest in the state.

Last Friday the Globe published a special "MCAS 2001" section, again ranking school districts according to their MCAS performance. But Carlisle was not on the list. On closer inspection, neither were Concord, Acton, Boxborough, Lincoln, Sudbury, Dover, and Sherborn, and possibly other towns whose school districts are split between local and regional schools. Had their scores been included, the list of the top ten schools would have been very different.

Wednesday's Globe only added to the confusion. In a story on top-performing schools, Carlisle's 2000 performance was referred to as third in the state. Did they lose their chart with Carlisle at the top? The data were not incorrect, but confusing. Wednesday's article focused on English and math scores only; last year's rankings included science scores.

Who's tops?

This year the Globe combined the scores for English and math for grades 4, 8, and 10, and added sixth-grade math, seventh-grade English, and eighth-grade history. Science scores were not reported this year and not included in any totals. The Globe's list of top ten school districts, as published last Friday, omitted any school systems that did not include all grades from 3 to 10.

Globe's Top Ten

Rank District Total

1 Wellesley 2,251

2 Lexington 2,244

3 Wayland 2,237

4 Weston 2,236

5 Newton 2,233

6 Winchester 2,229

7 Westwood 2,223

8 Harvard 2,222

8 Needham 2,222

10 Belmont 2,220

10 Westford 2,220

For the sports-minded, if metro-west towns with local and regional school districts were included, Carlisle would top a very different list of top ten.

Recalculated Top Ten

Rank District Total

1 Carlisle 2,255

2 Wellesley 2,251

3 Lexington 2,244

4 Sudbury 2.242

5 Wayland 2,237

5 Sherborn 2,237

7 Concord 2,236

7 Weston 2,236

9 Acton 2,234

10 Newton 2,233

A call to the Boston Globe, suggesting that their school district rankings did not present a complete picture, received no response.

From an educational point of view this competitive ranking stirs the juices but means little. However, it can have an impact on real estate prices and draw attention to Carlisle as a good town for families with young children. Since Carlisle has been struggling with rapid growth, perhaps we should be grateful for this small measure of anonymity.

2001 The Carlisle Mosquito