By Christopher Roberson
The accountability data from the most recent MCAS assessment continued to reinforce the message that Lynnfield has one of the best public school systems in Massachusetts.
“The big story tonight is the accountability piece – that’s new,” said Superintendent of Schools Jane Tremblay during the Oct. 30 School Committee meeting.
Lynnfield’s Director of Teaching and Learning, Kevin Cyr, said the Next Generation MCAS was administered at the elementary schools and at Lynnfield Middle School, adding that the 2017 data is the new baseline for those schools. He said the traditional MCAS will continue to be used at Lynnfield High School until 2019. “The high school is in a different boat,” said Cyr.
He said that according to the recommendation from the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, schools should strive for an accountability rating of at least 75 percent. In addition to the test scores, the accountability rating is based on other indicators, such as academic growth, chronic absenteeism and the completion of advanced coursework.
Cyr was pleased to report that the high school led the district with an accountability rating of 87 percent. “You are outperforming 98 percent of the high schools in Massachusetts,” Tremblay said to Lynnfield High School Principal Robert Cleary.
The grade 10 Math scores showed that 81 percent of those students earned scores in the Advanced category. Despite being up one percent from last year, the number reflects a 10 percent improvement since 2016.
The grade 10 English/Language Arts (ELA) scores showed that 100 percent of those students scored in the either the Advanced or Proficient categories. In 2017, 98 percent of grade 10 students scored in Advanced or Proficient categories, and in 2016 the combined figure totaled 99 percent.
The results of the grade 9 Biology assessment showed that 33 percent of those students earned Advanced scores and 53 percent earned Proficient scores. Last year, 50 percent of the ninth grade Biology scores landed in the Advanced category and 46 percent were Proficient. In 2016, the two categories were much closer together as 46 percent of those students received Advanced scores and 48 percent received Proficient scores.
“There are no glaring weaknesses, we’re polishing a stone,” said Cleary.
Going forward, Cleary said, both the PARCC and Next Generation MCAS practice exams will be given prior to next year’s changeover. In addition, the accountability data will be used to “pinpoint areas of the curriculum to be enhanced and to differentiate instruction for individual students.”
Summer Street Elementary School was not far behind with an accountability rating of 85 percent, which put it ahead of 94 percent of the other elementary and middle schools in the state.
In third grade ELA, 50 percent of students were Meeting Expectations, a six-percent increase over last year. However, the number of student Exceeding Expectations was 31 percent, a nine-percent tumble from last year. The fourth grade ELA scores showed 54 percent of students as Meeting Expectations, an increase of nine percent and 36 percent of students Exceeding Expectations, an increase of three percent.
The third grade Math scores showed 83 percent of students as either Meeting or Exceeding Expectations. Last year, the two categories combined for 96 percent. In fourth grade Math, 90 percent of students were Meeting or Exceeding Expectations this year. Last year’s combined figure was 89 percent.
With an accountability rating of 75 percent, Huckleberry Hill Elementary School outscored 84 percent of the elementary and middle schools in the state.
The third grade ELA scores showed that 61 percent of students are Meeting Expectations compared to 63 percent last year. The number of third grade students in the Exceeding Expectations category dropped from 22 percent last year to 16 percent this year. The number of fourth grade students Meeting Expectations was 58 percent this year and 56 percent last year. Fourth grade students Exceeding Expectations increased from 11 percent last year to 18 percent this year.
In third grade Math, the results showed that the number of students Meeting Expectations was the same as last year at 64 percent. However, the number of third grade students Exceeding Expectations fell from 23 percent to 15 percent. In fourth grade, 55 percent of students were Meeting Expectations this year compared to 64 percent in 2017. The Exceeding Expectations category saw a moderate increase from 14 percent in 2017 to 21 percent this year.
“There’s been a lot of conversations over the past two years about instructional practices,” said Director of Elementary ELA/Social Studies Maureen Fennessy. “It’s an absolute celebration across the board both for Huckleberry Hill and Summer Street Schools.”
In addition to Google Classroom, the elementary reading curriculum is augmented by Newsela and Reading A-Z.
Director of Elementary Math/Science/Title 1 Christina Noce said students will continue to use the Freckle Math program to bolster their skills. “I’m confident that our math scores will continue to improve,” she said.
Despite an accountability rating of 55 percent, the middle school still outpaced the other middle and elementary schools by 76 percent.
The greatest changes in percentages were found in the fifth and sixth grade ELA scores. In fifth grade ELA, 63 percent of students were Meeting Expectations this year, which is a 10 percent climb compared to 2017. The number of fifth grade students Exceeding Expectations remained the same at 13 percent. In sixth grade ELA, the number of students Meeting Expectations fell significantly from 70 percent last year to 51 percent this year. Yet the students Exceeding Expectations climbed from five percent to 12 percent.