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A graph of 2013 MCAS ELA scores. Number of students scoring proficient or above are on the vertical axis; student improvement is on the horizontal axis.
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Berkshire Arts & Tech Charter School Touts MCAS Scores

By Stephen DravisWilliamstown Correspondent
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Principal April West discusses the 2013 MCAS scores with high school students on Wednesday afternoon.
ADAMS, Mass. — The principal of the Berkshire Arts and Technology Charter Public School told her students Wednesday to be proud — but not satisfied — with the recently released results of last spring's Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System exams.
 
True, the 2013 MCAS shows the charter school to once again be one of just two "Level 1" districts in Berkshire County.
But even more important is the rate at which students are improving, April West told an assembly of the high school students.
 
And if they keep "climbing the mountain," there is no reason why BArT cannot be king of the hill, April West said.
 
"While Mount Greylock [Regional High School] has achievements I really respect and admire, their students are not improving their skills at the rate we are," West told the students.
 
West showed the students slides based on last week's Department of Elementary and Secondary Education report that show the charter school ahead of nearly every "sending district" that contributes to its student body.
 
The exception was Williamstown's Mount Greylock Regional, which posted the county's top percentages for students in all grades demonstrating proficency or higher in English language arts (93 percent) and mathematics (77 percent).
 
BArT checked in with 77 percent of its students at proficiency or higher in ELA and 61 percent at or above the benchmark in math.
 
Both Mount Greylock and BArT ran well ahead of the statewide average of 69 percent of students proficient or higher in ELA. BArT was right on the average of 61 percent proficient or higher in math.
 
West pointed with pride to those numbers as well as the category in which BArT leads all of its sending districts — including Mount Greylock: student growth percentile.
 
In that measure of improvement among students taking the MCAS last spring, BArT posted scores of 68.0 in ELA and 62.0 in math. Mount Greylock was just behind with percentile scores of 59.0 and 51.0.
 
"Our absolute performance is not as high as Mount Greylock's, but we're growing quite a bit more," West said.
"You're growing more than anybody else [in the county]. We're going to continue to go up and up and up."
 
West emphasized that drive for improvement by singling out the students in each class who demonstrated exceptional growth on the standardized tests, dubbing the cohort "BArT Mountain-Climbers."
 
Other highlights from the MCAS report for the 10-year-old charter school included:
 
Receiving the highest Progress and Performance Index score in Berkshire County for all students and for high needs students.
Having 94 percent of 10th-graders proficient or advanced in math; representing the highest percentage of 10th-grade math proficiency in Berkshire County.
Having 97 percent of 10th-graders proficient or advanced in English.
The 7th-grade English student growth was the 5th highest in the state.
Having a composite performance index in both English and math higher than the state’s: in aggregate, for special education students and for low-income students.

Tags: BArT,   MCAS,   rankings,   

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Environment Secretary Visits Pittsfield


Kathleen Theoharides, secretary of energy and environmental affairs, visits the site of culvert project in Pittsfield being funded through the state's climate readiness program.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides was in Pittsfield on Friday to review a state-funded culvert site and meet with local officials to discuss the state's climate readiness program. 
 
She joined Mayor Linda Tyer at the Churchill Street culvert, a site which recently received grant funding through the state's Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) Program. The city was awarded an $814,524 state grant in June for the Churchill Brook and West Street Culvert Replacement Project.
 
Through the MVP program, which begun in 2017, municipalities identify key climate-related hazards, vulnerabilities and strengths, develop adaptation actions, and prioritize next steps. The initiative which initially started as a $500,000 capital grant program has now increased to $12 million. Pittsfield is among the 71 percent of communities across the commonwealth now enrolled in the MVP program.
 
"The governor and the lieutenant governor have made resilient infrastructure a priority all across the state and I think it's really important to know that we have a really vested interest in Western Massachusetts communities as well as all across the state, not forgetting the Berkshires or Pioneer Valley," said Theoharides in a statement. "Our MVP program is really focused on these types of partnership investments and looking to design infrastructure for the challenges we're seeing today and moving forward as climate change increases."
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