GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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September 25, 2013

Rockport shows gains on MCAS

ROCKPORT — The numbers are in, and the Rockport Public School District has shown measurable improvements in some areas on the tests through the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS).

Overall, the district showed an increasing percentage of students who scored proficient or higher in eight areas compared to MCAS scores of a year ago, including third-grade reading and math, fourth-grade English and math, fifth grade science, seventh grade English, and all areas in grade 10.

In addition, scores dropped in nine areas compared to last year, and while state percentages in the proficient or higher category are up, Rockport stayed above state levels in nearly all areas this year, with the exception of math in grades five, six and seven.

Despite notable improvements in some areas — 99 percent of 10th grade students scored proficient or higher in English — Superintendent Robert Liewbow said that, in a smaller school district such as Rockport, a three-year average is the best tool to show improvements and declines in MCAS scores.

The three-year averages also allow better data analysis, he said. For example, if math students in Grade 5 do not show improvements but the same group of students shows improvements in Grade 6, there would be no immediate problem, because the students are showing improvements one year later

When MCAS scores decrease or increase for three years, real differences can be seen, Liebow said.

”You have to be consistent with what you say,” Liebow said, adding some factors could distort the figures, such as a math teacher being on maternity leave for example, or an influx of special needs students.

Compared to the amount of students tested last year, the same amount of students with disabilities were tested last year in English, it was the same in other areas tested.

The three year averages are stable and in some areas they have even increased, and Rockport is getting higher and higher above state averages compared to previous years, Liebow said.

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