The Marion School Committee listened to an in-depth presentation on the 2012 MCAS results by Sippican Elementary School Principal Evelyn Rivet at their regular meeting on Wednesday, November 7. Across the grade levels, the test results exhibit strong improvement from the 2011 scores.
“Grade four made a really nice gain compared to last year with 70 percent scoring advanced and proficient,” Rivet said about the 2012 mathematics results. In 2011, only 51 percent of fourth grade students were categorized as either advanced or proficient.
“[Our] expected growth is between 40 and 60 percent,” Rivet said. “We’re in a good place.”
Rivet said that the 40 to 60 percent bracket for student growth percent (SGP) is considered “typical,” while anything below signifies a low rate for student growth. Each grade at Sippican Elementary fell within this bracket on both the English Language Arts and mathematics tests, with the exception of the fourth grade ELA, which had 32.7 SGP.
“We fully recognize our ELA has stayed flat for several years,” Rivet said. “We’re looking to see how to get that moving.”
The statistics for third grade, in particular, were exemplary. Rivet said the administration and teachers took pride in having 93 percent of third grade students score advanced or proficient on the mathematics test. On the ELA test, the third grade scored at 20 percent higher than the state on open response questions.
“Our third graders are strong performers in not only math but also writing,” Rivet said.
The school excelled in mathematics on the whole.
“Sippican School has never seen so many students in the advanced and proficient categories for mathematics,” Rivet said.
However, Rivet stressed that there are still room for improvement and areas of concern. The administration and teachers are looking to decrease the warning category for each test and grade level to zero percent. Also, the SGP for the fourth grade is lower than the administration would like to see, and care is being taken to implement district-wide classroom assessments.
Superintendent Douglas White, Jr. and Director of Curriculum and Instruction Elise Frangos both said that there exists a natural gap between the MCAS results for third and fourth grade in any school system. The two tests are dynamically different and require different skills from students.
“In third grade, it’s ‘tell a story,’” Frangos said. “In fourth grade, it’s ‘defend and argue.’”
Frangos also said that many fourth grade students lack the stamina to write a full page in a testing environment. Currently, the administration is seeking to implement district-wide ELA curriculum changes that would emphasize longer writing assignments that require topic development.
Other measures for continuing improvement on MCAS scores include: implementing non-fiction writing skills, developing and implementing open response writing strategies, and supporting math professional development. There is an open discussion between Tri-Town elementary schools regarding teaching strategies and assignments, as the school committees hope to create a shared knowledge and resource base for teachers.
“What we’re really after is a culture of achievement across the district,” Frangos said.
School Committee Chairman Brad Gordon said that the future of Sippican Elementary’s PPI statistics looks better now that the 2012 MCAS results have been released.
“As the last of the four years drops out, the overall will look better,” Gordon said.
In its other business, the Committee:
• Approved a Tupperware fundraiser for the sixth grade, which would occur sometime during January and February and help defray the cost of activity fees.
• Approved a donation from Sangari, which would be in the form of a $200 debit card that the school principal would use to purchase perishable materials for the program’s laboratories for the remainder of the year.
• Earmarked the $2,800 donation from Cumberland Farms for the purchase of an ENO Board of an estimated $1,600 retail value.
• Voted to send a representative from their Budget Subcommittee to the “Budget Subcommittee Subcommittee,” which would be formed of members from Tri-Town Budget Subcommittees and discuss methods for conserving funds in like line-items.
The next meeting of the Marion School Committee will be held on Wednesday, December 5 at 6:30 pm at the Marion Town House.
By Anne Smith