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Thread: MCAS scores and the Wayland Public Schools

  1. #1
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    Default MCAS scores and the Wayland Public Schools

    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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  2. #2
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    The analysis below and charts attached update my prior 2007 MCAS analysis by adding 2008 and 2009.

    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--"Grade Level"--shows how scores on a given test (e.g., 4th grade math) progress over time. Given a large number of years (10? 20? 30?), trends on these charts will be at least a partial reflection on the quality of instruction that the schools 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--"Cohort"--follows the scores of a given cohort (e.g., the Class of 2006) as they move through the grades.


    Chart 1 - Elementary School
    The fluctuations in this Grade Level chart reflect that different cohorts of children are earning the scores. For instance, each cohort takes Grade 3 Reading only once, so the "trend" in Grade 3 Reading scores isn't that of the progression of a particular group of students.

    Chart 2 - Middle School
    Similar to the ES Grade Level chart, this chart shows the fluctuation in MS MCAS scores achieved by different cohorts over time.

    Chart 3 - High School
    The HS Grade Level chart is driven by the same consideration as ES and MS above.

    Chart 4- Science
    This Grade Level chart groups the science scores across all three grade levels: ES, MS, and HS. It is subject to the same considerations as the ES, MS, and HS charts referenced above.

    Note that this forum only allows 5 attachments and 6 are needed. I'll add the rest of the analysis and the remaining 2 charts in a separate post.

    ... continued ...

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  3. #3
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    ... continued ...

    I'll now shift gears to look at how cohorts do as they move through their school years.

    Chart 5 - Reading/ELA by Cohort
    Each line shows a cohort as indicated by the legend at the right of the chart. For instance, the bright green line with the triangle data points represents those in 10th grade in the spring of 2012 (class of 2014). With the exception of two cases (10th grade in 2000 and 2004), cohorts have gotten grade 10 scores of 90 or better.

    Note that we now have 2 cohorts with scores spanning from 3rd through 10th grade (10th grade in spring of 2008 and 2009, represented by pink/squares and red/triangles). Both stared in the mid 80s and ended in the low 90s.

    Chart 6 - Math by Cohort
    Similar to the Reading/ELA cohort chart, each line represents math scores for a group of student as they move through the system. Math scores have been climbing almost every year, with a brief decline scored by the 10th graders in the spring of 2002. All 10th graders beginning in the spring of 2006 have scored in the mid 90s.

    We now have 6 cohorts who have spanned the full 4th through 10th grade range (10th grade in spring of 2004 onward). For the most part, these started in the mid 50s to mid 60s and ended in the high 80s to mid 90s.

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