In spring 2017, students in grades 3-8 across Massachusetts, including in Needham, participated in the new MCAS test in English language arts and mathematics for the first time. This "next generation" MCAS test is completely different and a more rigorous assessment than the MCAS assessment that had been administered in our schools for nearly the last 20 years. During the week of November 6th, you will be receiving the results of your child's performance on this new assessment.
As you review the report, here are a few things to keep in mind:
· The next-generation MCAS is a new test with a different approach to assessing student performance in grades 3-8. Spring 2017 scores are not comparable to previous years’ scores.
· The score levels for the next-generation MCAS are different from those of the legacy MCAS. The four new categories are: Exceeding Expectations (E), Meeting Expectations (M), Partially Meeting Expectations (PM) and Not Meeting Expectations (NM). They replace the categories of Advanced (A), Proficient (P), Needs Improvement (NI), and Warning (W) used for the legacy MCAS.
· The new standards for "Meeting Expectations" are more rigorous than the standards for reaching the "Proficient" level on the legacy MCAS. Therefore, some students who scored Proficient on the legacy MCAS in 2016 may score only “Partially Meeting Expectations” on the new 2017 MCAS.
· The Spring 2017 is a baseline year for the new test in grades 3-8 and will set the achievement level for coming years.
· High school students are still taking the legacy MCAS tests. The next-generation tests will be introduced at the high school level in spring 2019.
We ask that you keep in mind that MCAS results are only one measure of your child’s performance. Students in Needham are learning and growing both academically and socially, and teachers are supporting the diverse needs of all our students. We remain on par with our comparable communities and continue to outperform the state on many measures, including the MCAS, SAT, and Advanced Placement exams. Additionally, our teachers design local assessments and tests that provide detailed and helpful information about their students. In short, we use many measures to understand student growth and target areas for student growth.
Over the weeks and months ahead, our teachers and principals will review and analyze these results to understand student needs and how we might make improvements in classroom instruction and test administration. We want to continue to use the MCAS as one of many ways in which we measure and account for our students’ growth and achievement in the Needham Public Schools.
If you have questions about your child’s performance, please contact the school. For more information about the MCAS and Needham's results, please check out this link: Needham MCAS Information
A comprehensive report about these results and the MCAS will be presented to the School Committee later this winter.
Thanks to Dr. Terry Duggan, Assistant Superintendent for Student Learning, for providing this month's post!