Rochester MCAS Results Discussed

Thanks to improved MCAS scores, Rochester Memorial School has been re-designated from a Level II to Level I school.

At Thursday’s Rochester School Committee meeting, RMS Principal, Dr. Moira Rodgers and Dr. Elise Frangos, Director of Curriculum and Instruction, offered a PowerPoint presentation illustrating the progress and process of strengthening MCAS scores.

“We have met all the goals that were set for us for narrowing achievement gaps between the whole student body and minority subgroups,” said Dr. Rodgers.

“Rochester Memorial is a very, very good school, but we want to continue and move on to great,” said Frangos, as she compared national educational environment from the inception of George W. Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” initiative, which set lofty and generalized goals for schools across the country.  Many educators criticized the program as being too ambitious and too stringent.

Thanks to a waiver program implemented by the Obama administration, schools are finding more success in meeting what are seen to be more reasonable requirements than what were set down by the previous president.

Rather than insist that schools meet specific targets by specific dates, the new system focuses on improvement rate of performance growth.

“Student growth percentiles allow us to see how all students are performing across all percentiles.  Growth tends to be more strongly correlated with quality of instruction,” said Frangos.

Overall, RMS decreased the amount of students “in warning” by more than 10% and increased the amount of students in the “advanced” status by 10% or more.

The scores as they stand now look promising, with positive growth in overall scores from third to sixth grade. Scores of lower income students have improved but the numbers for disabled students fell slightly.

“Clearly we have some work to do with students with disabilities,” said Rodgers, who mentioned the need to devise new ways to actively improve those scores.

RMS students have performed admirably on the writing section of the test, with scores exceeding state averages in several categories.  Though there were only two categories in the presentation where students scored below the state, Rodgers insisted that improving those numbers was just as important as celebrating the success of the higher scores.

“I’m passionate about writing and I know we can do better,” said Rodgers.

Students at RMS have performed very high in math, according to their scores.  About 84% of Rochester sixth graders tested proficient in math, with higher-than-average results for the younger students as well.

“We are targeting our development in reading and writing, we are targeting our development in increasing data literacy,” Rodgers said.  Along with strengthening resources for students with special needs, RMS will be working increasingly to implement best practices in all grades for all students.

“We have a pretty stable school population, and we’re glad for that, and as our students move on from middle school to high school, they’re able to do really well,” said school committee member Sharon Hartley.

In other business, the Rochester School Committee approved the transfer of over $100,000 in order to satisfy teacher union contractual obligations.  Union contract negotiations have been underway for over a month.  The money was originally allocated in one account per the FY13 budget, but tonight’s vote took those funds and dispensed them according to the results of the negotiations for the purposes of step raises for faculty members.  Dozens of RMS faculty were in attendance during the approval process, which was completed without discussion or comment.

Following the public meeting, the Rochester School Committee held an executive session for the purpose of discussing Exception #3, which deals with collective bargaining.

The next meeting of the Rochester School Committee will be on Thursday, December 6, at 6:30 pm at the Town Hall.

By Eric Tripoli

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