The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, November 7, 2008

CCHS students score well on 2008 MCAS

Concord-Carlisle Regional High School (CCHS) Principal Peter Badalament presented the results from last spring’s MCAS testing to the Regional School Committee (RSC) on October 28. He said that CCHS students had done well and had even improved over the previous year’s results.

There are four categories in MCAS testing results: Advanced, Proficient, Needs Improvement and Failing. Ninety-seven percent of last year’s tenth-grade students achieved either Advanced or Proficient levels in English Language Arts (ELA), 2% higher than the previous year. Ninety-four percent achieved Advanced or Proficient in Mathematics, with a 5% jump over the previous year.

Students now need to pass a science MCAS test in addition to math and ELA in order to graduate. CCHS tenth graders did well in science, with 95% testing in the Advanced or Proficient categories. No tenth graders were in the failing category for ELA, while only 1% were in the failing category for Math and 2% were in the failing category for Science.

This year’s seniors only need a score in the Needs Improvement category or above in ELA and Math to graduate. However, the state has raised the bar for graduation requirements for the class of 2010, with implementation of a new Competency Determination Standard. This year’s juniors and future classes will need to be in the Proficient or Advanced category for both ELA and Math. The Needs Improvement category will no longer satisfy the graduation requirement. In addition, the class of 2010 and beyond must test in the Needs Improvement category or better on a high school Science and Technology/Engineering test in Biology, Chemistry, Introductory Physics or Technology/Engineering. If a student falls in the Needs Improvement category for ELA or Math and/or fails the Science test, he or she will need an “Educational Proficiency Plan (EPP).”

According to the Department of Education (DOE) website (, “An EPP is an educational planning tool to be developed for the subject area(s)” in which students did not score at the minimal graduation level. It will include: “A review of the student’s strengths and weaknesses based on MCAS and other assessment results, coursework, grades, and teacher input; the courses the student will be required to take and successfully complete in grades 11 and 12 in the relevant content area(s); and a description of the assessments the school will administer to the student annually to determine whether s/he is making progress toward proficiency. School districts have the option of including additional EPP requirements for individual students, such as school day attendance and participation in academic support programs.”

Badalament also talked about what was being done for the students in the Needs Improvement and Failing categories. The school is developing EPPs for these students. There is an MCAS English Language Arts class and the Math Resource Center (MARC) for students who need support in these areas. Biology Review Sessions are offered to improve MCAS science scores. An Achievement Team meets to discuss strategies for closing the gap and specialized math instruction is provided for Special Education students. Students can see any teacher any day for extra help.

“There will be rigorous content” in the area where the student is having trouble, Badalament said. For instance, a student having difficulties in math will need to take more math classes. RSC member Jan McGinn said, “This is a bad dream. It strikes me as punitive and illogical.” She was concerned that students would have to take an additional course in an area they did not like rather than use that time to pursue other academic avenues they would strive in. Badalament said this was probably true for ten to 15 students.

Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) is a measure of the progress schools and districts are making toward the goal of having all students reach proficiency in English language arts and mathematics by the year 2014. CCHS’s Composite Performance Index (CPI) in ELA rose from 98.6% last year to 99.1% this year. Math CPI rose from 96% to 97.7%. Badalament said, “Our graduation rate is very high. We have achieved AYP every year since inception.”

The Massachusetts Department of Education will raise the bar for graduation again. Starting with the Class of 2012, students will need to pass a U.S. History MCAS test, along with the ELA, Math and Science tests. ∆

© 2008 The Carlisle Mosquito