Boston MCAS scores show gains, but some schools still struggling

Boston students generally did better than their statewide public school counterparts on MCAS, city officials said last week, citing the performance of the “turnaround” Dever Elementary School as one example. Students citywide in grades 3 through 8 made significant gains in the math portion of the exam, school officials said.

Superintendent of Schools Carol Johnson said in a memo to school committee members that the gap in passing rates between black and Hispanic students and their white and Asian classmates is narrowing.
The results of the MCAS tests in English and mathematics for grades 3 through 8 and grade 10, and science and engineering for grades 5, 8 and high school, were released last week.

State officials listed Dorchester’s Boston Collegiate Charter School as one of ten schools statewide that accumulated the biggest combined increase in the percent of students scoring “proficient” and “advanced.” The charter school was up by 16 points in English and up by 14 in mathematics.

School officials noted that the passing rates and the number of students deemed “proficient” were up “substantially” in grade 3, with 82 percent of third graders passing the English test and 37 percent scoring “proficient.” Those percentages are up five points compared to last year and six points compared to 2008, respectively. A majority of seventh graders reached proficiency in English for the first time.

Black and Hispanic third-graders saw an eight-point increase and a seven-point increase in proficiency rates, respectively.

In mathematics, every grade with the exception of grade 10 saw increases in the percentage of passing students. Third and eighth graders posted an eight-point gain.

The gap in passing rates between black and Hispanic students and white students narrowed to 5 points this year, down from 35 points in 1998. Ninety percent of students in every racial group are passing the MCAS.

Sixty-six percent of the class of 2012 – current tenth graders – have already met or partly met state graduation requirements by passing the English, mathematics, and science portions of the exam.

There are 135 schools across the city, with about 25 located in Dorchester and Mattapan.

The Dever School, designated a “turnaround” school by the city, made gains this year after three years of missing the mark, meeting adequate yearly progress (AYP), which is aimed at measuring how much a student group shows “proficiency” in English and mathematics. The Mather Elementary School has also made some gains in English and math, a turnaround from four straight years of difficulty meeting benchmarks.

The Mattahunt in Mattapan, on the other hand, is still in the midst of a restructuring and did not meet the benchmarks. And the Marshall Elementary School in Dorchester is also continuing to struggle.