CHESHIRE, Mass. — Scores from next-generation Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System tests, the so-called MCAS 2.0, taken last spring by Grades 3 through 8 show what appears to be a positive trend in student growth percentiles in the Adams-Cheshire Regional School District.
"I have been doing this for 15 years, staring at MCAS data trying to figure out what it means sort of like looking at the unifiers and asking what is the meaning of life," Superintendent Robert Putnam told the School Committee on Monday. "I have been trying to figure it out ... so I called the data gurus at the Department of Education and they said it looked positive."
Some of the biggest gains were seen in sixth-grade English Language Arts
scores. In 2016, the medium growth percentile was 21; in 2017, the score was 55.
Another big gain was the Grade 4 math average score
that was bumped up to 61 this year over last year's 28.
Putnam said this trend can be seen at all grade levels.
"Student growth percentiles were higher for ACRSD than it has been in previous years," he said. "Even though these are transitional student growth percentiles, it looks promising."
Putnam said the district cannot yet compare actual scores because the next generation test is far different than the legacy MCAS and there is no baseline.
The state had been participating in the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, a consortium of states and other agencies working to develop a new standardized testing system. A number of Berkshire schools participated in the PARCC piloting but the state Department of Education has opted for MCAS 2.0, a version of its own testing standards that incorporates aspects of PARCC.
"These results, from tests students took in spring 2017, are a new baseline for students, schools, and districts as we move to a test that measures student learning differently and focuses on students' readiness for the next grade level," according to DOE's web page.
Putnam noted differences in the scoring.
In the legacy MCAS, students could score needs improvement, proficient and advanced. In the new MCAS, students can score exceeding expectations, meeting expectations, partially meeting expectations or not meeting expectations.
The rating is affiliated with a scaled score more rigorous than legacy MCAS scores.
"The score levels for the next generation MCAS are different than those of the legacy MCAS, Putnam said. "Some students will find that they scored proficient on the legacy MCAS in 2016 but only partially meeting expectations on the next generation MCAS in 2017."
Putnam said the district will receive accountability scores this time next year after a second next-generation test is taken.
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education reported that if the district can maintain these gains, it will be within the state average going forward, he said.
"The interpretation of this next generation MCAS data is still not clear but I hope this data is a harbinger of the future," Putnam said.
In other business, Putnam said construction on the Hoosac Valley Elementary School boiler room will begin in November and should be finished by Jan. 15.
He said only one cafeteria door will not be usable during construction and a few parking spaces will be taken up by roll-off trash containers.