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Marano, Rafferty Present 2017 MCAS Scores to School Board

Nov 30, 2017 09:56AM ● Published by Brandon Peddle

Asst. Supt. Carolyn Rafferty & Supt. Peter Marano

written by Brandon Peddle, Contributing Writer

The 2017 MCAS scores for Bellingham schools was presented and reviewed during the November 14th school committee meeting. Superintendent Peter Marano and Assistant Superintendent Carolyn Rafferty were on hand to present the scores, along with the principals to review their schools’ scores and discuss their school improvement plan.

Grades 3-8 took the next generation MCAS tests for English language arts (ELA) and math, after two years of using the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) tests. PARCC is an association between states that develop assessments for K-12 students based on common-core standards. Mr. Marano said that one of the reasons for changing back to MCAS was the ability to access more “deep level” data from the MCAS scores as opposed to PARCC.

Mr. Marano also said that the new “next generation” MCAS is much different from the previous “legacy” MCAS assessment, which first began in 1993. The next generation test implements “innovative items developed by PARCC,” according to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education website. The test is done online, with scoring between 440 and 560. It is planned for the next generation test to be implemented state-wide for all grades taking the MCAS in 2019.

The overall goal of the next generation test is to measure and prepare student’s readiness for college and post high school careers, with the Department of Education finding that a third of students placed in Massachusetts state schools take a remedial course, which consumes financial aid but does not count toward graduation.

It was stressed that results of this year’s next generation test should be a baseline, and not a correlation with tests done in previous years.

 “The new standard for meeting expectations is more rigorous than meeting expectations in a legacy test,” Mr. Marano said.

The increased difficulty was evident in the results. Statewide, 59% of students met or exceeded expectations while 41% partially met or did not meet expectations in both math and ELA. In Bellingham, 49% of students met or exceeded expectations in ELA, while 53% of students met or exceeded expectations in math.

Mrs. Rafferty mentioned how periodic assessments are important in culmination to the MCAS scores. She said these incremental tests do better at assessing student needs, because by the time they can review the MCAS scores the students have already advanced to the next grade. Programs like iReady assist in monitoring students’ progress to see if they are on track for their end-of-year target.

The South Elementary principal, Mrs. Judi Lamarre, was unable to make the school committee meeting and will present her school improvement plan in a future school committee meeting.

Stall Brook Elementary principal, Brenda Maurao, spoke of addressing students’ needs by fostering a culture where core subjects could be implemented in other areas, such as physical education.

“We are creating an I do, you do, we do model, to get into the classroom with our specialists to beef up our tier-one intervention,” Mrs. Maurao said.

Jeff Croteau, principal of Bellingham Memorial Middle School, spoke of how iReady has helped assist teachers in identifying students who need intervention in certain areas and increasing resources for subject interventions.

“We’d like to reduce the number of students identified as high risk by iReady from 20% to 10%,” Mr. Croteau said.

At the high school, Principal Lucas Giguere talked about how teachers have received content literacy instruction, specifically in history and science to increase writing development beyond classes in English. “Everything from word problems in math, to lab reports in science, to the typical ELA literature, they’re all on the same page, grading the same way,” Mr. Giguere said.

Implementing online programs such as actively learning has allowed students to access textbooks and reading materials online, with the curriculum updated in real-time.

“For students it’s about literacy in both the simple context and the financial, global context. It’s about making sure students are college- and career-ready and making sure they become informed citizens,” Mr. Giguere said.

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