MCAS Scores – Parents, Don’t Panic

The individual student Next-Gen MCAS results for Sippican School will be mailed to parents by November 1, but on October 18 during the Marion School Committee meeting, school administrators cautioned parents not to panic when they first review those results.

First, Superintendent Doug White noted that the state does not include any accountability number (1-5) and makes no comparison between this test and the prior PARCC tests of the previous year or even MCAS from prior years.

“They’ve wiped it away,” said White. “They’ve set the bar.” White then added, “They want to re-set the bar in what is expected of kids and our students … and this is the baseline here.”

White said the results of the Next-Gen MCAS would, “as [students] move from grade to grade, [this will be] a better indication of whether your student is prepared to move to the next grade.”

According to Assistant Superintendent Elise Frangos, this test is a much more rigorous test than prior tests, and it focuses much more on what Frangos said is “the essential connection between reading and writing – and they can’t be separated.” In other words, she said, “the integration of knowledge.”

The terminology in the results has also changed, Frangos pointed out. Gone are the terms such as “advanced,” “proficient,” and “needs improvement.” Those have been replaced with a scoring with a midpoint of 500.

“We really want to get all kids to the place of over five hundred,” Frangos said. The 500 score means that the student meets the grade level expectations in that subject area. Above 500 is mastery of a skill while exceeding that grade level expectation, and below 500 indicates the student is still working towards meeting grade level expectations.

“We really want to bring kids to place where they’ve mastered a … skill,” said Frangos. “That five hundred point in ‘over the river.’”

In general, Frangos explained, on average 50 percent of the students in Massachusetts will “fall below the river,” said Frangos, and 50 percent will score above. At Sippican School, Frangos expects to see a number of “cusp kids” who range from 490-499, just below the 500 midpoint.

This Next-Gen MCAS, she said, was designed to align with college and career readiness, and it puts emphasis on real-world knowledge.

“[The MCAS] has been recalibrated to measure whether or not kids have the requisite skills to enter college,” Frangos said, adding that she was pleased with the preliminary data released on Sippican School’s performance as a whole.

Parents and teachers will not anticipate the detailed individual scores of each student, which will help both parents and teachers to determine which standards students need more help with.

So, when parents open those results that will soon be mailed, Frangos said, first thing they should do is breath. Next, “…Really understand that their teacher has a very, very clear handle on … which standards [the student] may be below, and then also how to help them get to a place where they are meeting those expectations.”

The test, Frangos emphasized, is more rigorous, “But ultimately the effects of it are going to be positive for kids,” including readiness for college.

There will be a letter addressing these results posted to the Sippican School’s homepage ahead of the mailing.

“Remember,” said White, “This is measuring what they did at the end of last year for a grade level.” Support will be provided to ensure success in the next testing.

White also said this year the Grade 5 science MCAS will be online and no longer a paper and pencil test.

Marion School Committee Chairman Christine Marcolini said she is looking forward to the individual results, but added, “I think it’s a big mental shift.”

The next meeting of the Marion School Committee is scheduled for November 29 at 6:30 pm at the Sippican School Community Room.

Marion School Committee

By Jean Perry


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