GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

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September 25, 2013

City schools chief weighs students' test scores

Gloucester Superintendent of Schools Richard Safier said Tuesday he won’t have any specific recommendations for additional program steps of changes tonight when he makes his annual report to the city’s School Committee on students spring scores in the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System standardized tests.

But Safier acknowledged Tuesday that there are some issues “that require a closer look” toward needed improvements, even while noting that a wide number of students, classes and schools within the district met or exceeded state-developed “targets.”

In a draft of is report to the committee — to be delivered tonight in a 7 p.m. meeting at Gloucester High School — Safier touted several of what he labeled as “proficiency positives” noted in the test scores, which were released last Friday.

Among the highlights:

All student “populations” within Gloucester High School posted a rating of “above target” in English language arts, primarily reading comprehension and writing skills. In terms of hard numbers, the results showed that 91 percent of all GHS students achieved scores of “proficient” or advanced” in ELA, equal to the state average.

All GHS populations also placed “on target” or “above target” in science as well.

At O’Maley Innovation Middle School, four of the school’s five populations scored above target in math — a positive sign for a school that has emphasized the so-called STEM programs of science, technology and math.

At Veterans Memorial Elementary School, all of the school’s individual subgroups improved in both English Language Arts and in math.

Those numbers aside, however, Safier Tuesday noted some trouble spots as well.

At O’Maley, all three grades placed below the states target in English Language Arts — though the school’s seventh- and eighth-graders topped the state averages, with proficiency marks of 72 percent and 83 percent respectively, compared to the state’s norms of 71 and 78. Of O’Maley’s sixth-graders, just 62 percent tested as proficient or advanced in English, as opposed to the state’s average of 67.

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