Anne Auger, the Director of Remote Learning and Instruction, gave a Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) update during Monday’s School Committee meeting at Everett High School.
Superintendent of Schools Priya Tahiliani said that although the MCAS is a small part of a student’s testing, students have overall performed well, stating that she is beyond hopeful.
Auger said 36 percent of students performed in the proficient category for last spring’s 2022 10th grade English Language Arts MCAS test, showing a positive shift from 26 in 2021 to 48 in 2022 regarding the student growth percentile. For the 10th grade mathematics exam, 24 percent of students scored proficient, according to Auger. The numbers were roughly the same for younger students.
“To measure students’ growth, we typically want to see at least 50 percent,” Auger said. “In math and literacy, it’s beyond 50 percent districtwide.”
School Committee Member-at-Large Samantha Lambert said they want to celebrate with students.
Auger said students in the lower achievement categories receive an opportunity to enroll in an acceleration academy. Auger encouraged English Language Learners (ELL) students to maintain heritage language skills by continuing to have conversations in their native language.
Ward 5 School Committee Member Marcony Almeida-Barros, who was an ELL student, asked if the numbers reflect ELL learners. “Some promising data shows a higher performance once they do become proficient in English,” Auger said. “Unfortunately, the MCAS doesn’t wait for them to learn English.”
Mayor Carlo DeMaria asked Auger why some elementary school students do better than their peers. Auger said those teachers cut out a 50-minute block to have a common teaching time for teachers to build best practices.
DeMaria, whose first language wasn’t English, said he spoke to an ESL teacher that suggested obtaining 10 to 13 students in February is somewhat disruptive to teaching the students who are already here. The Brazilian academic year ends in December, and many immigrate to the United States during that time frame. “They were already at a certain level,” DeMaria said. “When new kids came in, they’d have to stop for them and start over.”
He asked if they’d do better in a temporary different classroom, as in the past. Auger said students learning separately isn’t in students’ best interest since research shows that it’s important to have native English speakers alongside them.
Ward 2 School Committee Member Jason Marcus asked about cities like Springfield and Lowell and how Everett compares to them. Auger said the cities that are listed are comparable to Everett. Tahiliani said the packet that she handed out includes more comparisons.
School Committee Member-at-Large Cynthia Sarnie, who doesn’t think students should be required to pass the MCAS to graduate, asked if stress affects students’ performance. “They may feel like they aren’t where they need to be,” Sarnie said. “What do we do to help them?”
Auger said interim assessments help and that teachers do a phenomenal job leading up to the standardized test.
Sarnie remembered the temporary transitional classrooms that Mayor DeMaria was speaking of – so that students don’t feel left out. However, Auger said they’ve outgrown any model that requires a separate space.
“An argument can be made for a certain amount of time for a developmental level,” Tahiliani said. “However, I don’t know if it’s helpful to talk about hypothetical if we don’t have the space.”
DeMaria, who doesn’t agree with the MCAS requirement, said students’ achievements are nothing short of amazing.