I'd like to begin the way that I'll end: there is certainly room for improvement in our MCAS scores. Each year, our administrators evaluate our scores down to the level of each question. When they find patterns, they decide whether there is a gap in our curriculum or perhaps a sequence with which they don't agree. They make changes accordingly.

That said, our administrators look at the Wayland Public Schools educational experience with a significantly broader and deeper brush than MCAS. The objective is not to produce better test-takers, but rather, to "advance our students' growth into principled, informed, and capable citizens" (full Mission Statement).

Attached are a series of of two types charts that show our MCAS English/Language Arts and Math scores (percentage of students reaching Proficient or Advanced). The first chart type shows how scores on a given test (e.g., 4th grade math) progress over time. Given a large number of years (20? 30?), trends on these charts will be at least a partial reflection on the quality of instruction that the scores are providing.

Over shorter spans, however, the relative strengths of some cohorts of students over others may falsely appear to suggest a tend. The second chart type follows the scores of a given cohort (e.g., the Class of 2006) as they move through the grades.

Chart 1 - Elementary School

ELA scores at grade 3 and 4 have dropped a bit over time (currently in the low to high 70s), while grade 4 math scores have been a bit more cyclical (currently just over 60). It is instructive to note that over the past 5 or so years, Wayland has improved its reading and math curricula, and that the full benefit of this change should start to appear as teachers become more proficient in delivering it and students at the 4th grade level will have benefited from it for their entire time in Wayland.

Chart 2 - Middle School

Middle school ELA and math scores have been high and relatively steady over time, with ELA scores now in the mid 90s and math scores around 80.

Chart 3 - High School

High school ELA and math scores have been high and relatively steady over time, now hovering in the low to mid 90s.

Chart 4 - ELA by Cohort

Each line shows a cohort as indicated by the legend at the right of the chart. For instance, the dark blue line with the square data points represents those in 10th grade in the fall of 2006 (class of 2009). In general, scores rise over the years, getting into the upper 80s and low to mid 90s by 7th grade.

Chart 5 - Math by Cohort

Similar to the ELA cohort chart, each line represents math scores for a group of student as they move through the system. And as with the ELA scores, the math scores climb into the 80s/90s.

I would far rather have high "back end" (high school) MCAS scores than scores which started high at the lower grades but then dropped. As some have pointed out, our elementary scores don't appear on paper to be all that impressive, and we will certainly continue to work to improve them. That said, it's instructive to see how Wayand ranks in the state at the higher grades.

Comparative MCAS scores are available on the Department of Education web site here. For reasons that I don't fully understand, DOE's "CPI" (Composite Performance Index) doesn't match the addition of Proficient plus Advanced scores (used by the Boston Globe, for instance). One difference is that the CPI includes both the standard MCAS test and the MCAS Alternate Assessment, but there may be other differences as well. For Wayland, grade 7 through 10 CPI scores in 2007 ranged from 2-10 points higher than the Proficient+Advanced score.

Either way, CPI and Proficient+Advanced yield similar rankings. In 2007 (the latest year for which scores are available), Wayland ranked as follows on the Proficient+Advanced scale. Again, it's important to note that these are different groups of students.

Grade 7

- ELA: 1st
- Math: 2nd (tie)
Grade 8

- ELA: 5th (tie)
- Math: 7th
Grade 10

- ELA: 20th (tie)
- Math: 5th

As I said at the outset, there is certainly room for improvement in our generally high MCAS scores--we just can't let MCAS be our sole focus.

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