Friday, October 3, 2008
State releases Carlisle School MCAS results
Carlisle’s recently released results from the spring 2008 Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) showed mixed results compared with previous years (see Table 1 on page 6). Of 14 tests, nine showed reduced scores in the “Advanced/Proficient” category compared with 2007. However, results compared more favorably against 2006 data. On average, the percentage of students scoring Advanced or Proficient climbed from 78.6% in 2006, to 83.5% in 2007, retreating slightly to 81.8% in 2008.
Carlisle continues to out-perform the state averages at all grade levels (see Table 2). When comparing combined Advanced and Proficient scores, Carlisle scored in the top quarter of all schools participating, and in seven tests Carlisle students ranked at the 95th percentile or above. Carlisle’s seventh- grade math scores were the second highest in the state.
Carlisle School Superintendent Marie Doyle says, “The MCAS scores are one indicator of student achievement that lets us know how we compare to other districts. Carlisle benefits from having most students attend our school from kindergarten through grade 8, thus giving us a total picture of children’s long-term progress as they complete middle school. As we look at the scores of our seventh and eighth graders, we are always happy to see that the cumulative data shows consistently high achievement for our students in math, ELA [English/Language Arts] and science and technology.”
Ups and downs
A significant gain was seen in Carlisle’s 2008 grade 4 math scores (see Table 4.) However, grade 5 struggled in English, math and science, with close to a third of the students scoring either Needs Improvement or Warning. In particular, the grade 5 math scores showed a drop in scores from the Advanced to the Proficient categories, as well as an unusually large number of students receiving a Warning. Scores for a grade level fluctuate year-to-year as cohorts of children progress through the grades. The cohort of students who took the tests last spring are now in the next grade level.
Comparison to other towns
Table 3 compares the percentage of students scoring top marks across several area towns for grades 4, 5, 6 and 8. Carlisle scores roughly in the middle of the pack.
The relatively low marks for eighth-grade science in all the towns reflect state-wide scores for this subject. Doyle commented, “The Science and Technology tests continue to be the most difficult as they rely mostly on recall of facts. Annually, the students throughout the Commonwealth struggle the most with this test, but I have not heard about any pending changes to the test.” She noted that sample test questions are available on-line (www.doe.mass.edu/mcas/2008/release/g8sci.pdf), and said, “As you can see, the students need a broad base of knowledge to do well.”
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