MHS improves by 40% to 99% in one year as Principal Mastrangelo credits ‘team work’
When you combine a seasoned school administrator – who formerly spent many years as a high school sports coach – with an important challenge at hand, it might be possible to predict how this individual would decide how to complete this task. “Team work, everyone working together,” is how sixth-year Malden High School Principal Chris Mastrangelo described how the school’s MCAS attendance/participation rate showed such a remarkable turnaround from 2021 to this year, 2022.
Malden High’s rate of attendance mirrored that of the Malden Public Schools (MPS) district as a whole – nearly perfect – as it rose to an average of 99% across the district, putting MPS near the top of the list among the state leaders. Still recovering from the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic in spring of 2021, the MHS participation rate was at 61% of 10th graders overall.
Principal Mastrangelo said that much analysis and planning began almost immediately after the 2021 numbers were in, with the challenge of marked improvement before them. “Everyone knows that the 2021 rate was unacceptable and we started working right away toward improving that number for this year’s MCAS.”
And improve that rate, they did – in remarkable fashion.
For MCAS testing for this year’s Class of 2024 sophomores, Malden High’s school participation soared dramatically, up nearly 40% to a close to perfect 99%, Malden Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Ligia Noriega-Murphy told the Malden School Committee during a formal MCAS presentation recently. “Our district as a whole did a tremendous job in making sure our attendance rate was very high for MCAS testing,” Supt. Dr. Noriega-Murphy said. “Malden High School did very well this year.”
Malden School Committee Chairperson and Mayor Gary Christenson said, “Malden High School did a great job this year, very impressive.”
“Those are rock solid numbers,” Mayor Christenson added, noting that the Mass. Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) uses attendance/participation rates for MCAS as a key indicator in establishing the school and district ratings statewide.
The Mayor invited Principal Mastrangelo to comment on the high school staff’s approach at the school board meeting. “It was a total team effort: Our entire staff worked very hard and very efficiently in the months leading up to the MCAS testing day and then on the testing day itself,” Mastrangelo, a former high school soccer and basketball coach before he became an administrator, told the School Committee, noting that MHS Brunelli House Principal Ewald Charles was the lead administrator for MCAS testing planning and coordination on test day.
“We went to great lengths to make sure sophomores and some juniors we needed for testing were in school and able to be administered the test,” Mastrangelo said. “We ran basically a phone bank to call students’ homes and used translators for those caregivers and families whose first language is not English. We were very successful in that regard. We stressed the importance of any students who might have been late arriving, and their parents made sure they were in school soon after they got the call.”
Mastrangelo said the school even sent “ambassadors” to the students’ homes to pick them up and get them to school even quicker. “Staff members even went to students’ homes and got them to school even quicker to save testing time in some cases,” he said.
Mastrangelo said staff were able to determine high-needs students and ran outreach to students and caregivers.
“It was a job well done,” Mastrangelo said. “It really showed how dedicated and committed our staff was here at the high school and across the district to help ensure our students’ success. Our improvement in just one year was very impressive, and it just picked up the spirit of our whole school, with that theme of working together so well.”