The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, October 27, 2006


MCAS 2006 results released for Carlisle School

Results of this spring's 2006 MCAS tests released last week show Carlisle students continue to score at a high level, with scores this year roughly comparable to previous years.

Middle school math strong

Carlisle students continue to post strong results in the middle school grades. Seventh-grade math results show 43 percent of students scored Advanced in Math, the fifth highest in the state according to a listing in the Boston Globe.

Other highlights include eighth-grade math, where 37% of students scored Advanced, which the Globe listed as fifth highest among approximately 50 schools northwest of Boston, and eighth-grade English where 37% of Carlisle students also scored Advanced, the sixth highest among northwest towns.

Third-grade reading drops

Third-grade reading results, however, are down slightly this year with 74% of Carlisle students scoring in the top two categories, compared with 85% in 2005. The drop correlates with state results where third-grade reading scores declined by at least three percentage points in 56% of Massachusetts's schools in 2006, while just 26% of schools improved by at least three percentage points according to the Massachusetts Department of Education (DOE). Of all scores, Commissioner David Driscoll is most concerned with third grade reading results in the state according to a statement on the MCAS web site.

Adequate yearly progress remains "very high"

MCAS scores are also used by the state to measure Adequate Yearly Progress, or AYP, part of the federal No Child Left Behind legislation.

This year's AYP scores for Carlisle are English/Language Arts, 93.7, out of a possible 100 points, and Math, 90.2. Overall, the state gives Carlisle a "very high" rating based on composite student test scores. Though mandated by law, school systems do not receive specific state or federal funding for AYP.

The number of Advanced versus Proficient students varies from year to year, often due to variations in the student body, and other factors. Because Carlisle's school population is relatively small, a few students in a grade can affect test scores, driving scores either up or down, says Superintendent Marie Doyle.

There are also slight variations in the tests themselves from year to year as different questions are created every year, though the state says it uses a process to ensure tests are comparable with previous ones. Doyle says a committee of teachers and administrators creates the MCAS tests and variations in the committee could cause the yearly tests to vary.

Schools often combine the top two categories, Advanced and Proficient, to look at results. In fourth-grade English, for example, 6% of students this year scored Advanced, compared with 15% in 2005, while 64% scored Proficient this year, compared with 56% in 2005. The combined scores, Advanced and Proficient, show 70% scored in the top two categories in fourth-grade English this year, while 71% scored in the top two last year, a comparable number.

The state added six MCAS tests this year to ensure all students in grades three to eight were tested in both English and Math to comply with No Child Left Behind laws. Students in grades five and seven were also given tryout questions in History/Social Science, though results were not reported to schools. In all, the school administered 16 tests this spring (14 scored, and two unscored.)

Statewide results

This year's statewide results are a mixed bag. The statewide grades three to eight results are considered flat, or slightly down from last year, a concern for the DOE which hopes to identify why many elementary and middle schools did not show improvement this year. While statewide elementary scores did not increase, grade 10 results released in September show an improvement in most high schools in the state, including Concord-Carlisle High School which posted an increase in tenth-grade scores this year.

The Carlisle School received boxes of MCAS results on Monday, and on Tuesday the two co-principals began to examine the results and identify trends, says Elementary Principal Patrice Hurley. They will continue to analyze results with curriculum coordinators. The curriculum coordinators are: Reading Specialist Sue LaPorte for English, grades Kindergarten to two; Reading Specialist Steve Bober for English, grades three to eight; Math Specialist Liz Perry for Math, all grades; and Kindergarten teacher Mimi Chandler for Science. Parents should receive copies of their children's results by mail by early next week.

Last year Superintendent Doyle met with the English coordinators to work on the open-ended questions often asked on MCAS. The questions require a short answer response and ask students to explain their thinking. To prepare for testing, teachers include open-ended questions in homework assignments and coach students on how to write a response. The school also works to ensure the math curriculum is aligned with the test, offering math clubs in various grades to give students extra help in math if needed.

The Science MCAS tests are known to be extremely difficult for students statewide, says Doyle, though Carlisle has done well compared with many other districts. Social Studies MCAS tests are still in flux, and no scores are given.

By the end of middle school, students have covered all the curriculum during their nine years at the school, and seventh and eighth grade MCAS results have been consistently excellent, says Doyle.

For more MCAS information, see:

2006 The Carlisle Mosquito