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September 21, 2013

City marks mixed on MCAS test

EDITOR’S NOTE:

The initial version of this story referred to a fourth-grade math testing score that is incorrect. This is a corrected version.

Gloucester’s public school students showed improvement in English and language arts, according to new state MCAS test results outlined Friday.

And while city students fell below a state set goal, they also improved to meet state-set math goals across the school district.

But while students at Gloucester High School and Plum Cove Elementary delivered high marks, the tests showed that fewer than half the district’s fourth-graders across the city last spring tested as being “proficient” in math.

The state outlined goals to reduce learning “proficiency” gaps in school districts starting in 2012, based on Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System, or MCAS, scores. The idea was to cut in half the number of students considered below “proficiency” levels by 2017, with a linear target set for each year, Superintendent of Schools Richard Safier reported in going over the available test scores Friday, with more figures still to come.

“Are we the best in the business? No,” Safier said. “But we are meeting our targets.”

In some cases, school administrators are noting sizable gains — like at O’Maley Innovation Middle School, where four out of five student subgroups scored above target performance. Students with “disabilities” fell just below their targeted goal, despite improving their scores.

At the high school, all groups fell below their target goals, though each population improved in performance overall.

“We’ve made sizable gains,” Safier said. “A lot of it has to do with the focus the school district placed on math over the past year.”

Safier said each teacher had been tasked with setting a personal teaching goal, setting a student math-based goal and developing a math assessment for the students.

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