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The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

2009 MCAS Results

To:Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
From:Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D., Commissioner
Date:September 11, 2009


I am pleased to present you with 2009 Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) state results. MCAS tests have been administered annually as a key part of the state's Education Reform efforts since 1998.

I am encouraged by the 2009 results, particularly by the performance of grade 10 students, important gains in subgroup performance, improvements in English language arts (ELA) performance including that of students in grades 3 and 4, and the status to date of this year's seniors (class of 2010) in meeting the Commonwealth's new graduation requirements. These results demonstrate that our teachers are helping more students reach academic proficiency. Our focus must continue to be on ensuring that every student is fully prepared to succeed.

Grade 10 Students' Performance Improved Overall and Among Subgroups

Students in the class of 2010 and beyond are required to either score Proficient or higher on MCAS ELA and math tests or earn a score of at least 220 (Needs Improvement) and complete an Educational Proficiency Plan before graduation. In addition, students beginning with the class of 2010 are required to earn a passing score of 220 or higher on the grade 10 STE test.

I am very encouraged that tenth graders in 2009 (class of 2011) made across-the-board gains on the high school ELA, mathematics, and STE tests. Eighty-three percent of these students (this year's juniors) have already met the state's minimum testing requirements needed to earn a high school diploma.

The grade 10 gains were propelled by improved performance from all student groups including African American, Asian, Hispanic/Latino, and white students; students with disabilities; limited English proficient students; and low income students. Results show that all student groups showed an increase in the percent scoring Proficient or higher on the ELA and mathematics exams, and almost all showed improvement on the STE exam.

English Language Arts Performance Improves in Most Grades and For All Subgroups (Except White Students in One Grade)

I am also pleased to see gains in statewide 2009 MCAS results in ELA by students in most grades and all subgroups, a significant change from the past several years of flat or declining results in elementary and middle school performance. I am encouraged to see that the gains made in ELA by African American and Hispanic/Latino students mirrored improvement statewide, leaving a smaller - but still evident - gap in performance in some grades than has been seen in previous years. While we will need to monitor ELA results over the next couple of years before we can declare a reversal in the trend we have seen for the last several years, I am heartened by these 2009 results, and in particular, the subgroup performance gains witnessed this year.

Ninety Percent of Students in the Class of 2010 Have Already Met State's New Graduation Requirements

Ninety percent of the students in this year's senior class (the class of 2010) have met the minimum testing requirement by scoring Needs Improvement or higher in ELA, mathematics, and Science and Technology/Engineering (STE). Still, wide disparities in performance remain among subgroups: Just 49 percent of limited English proficient students, 67 percent of students with disabilities, and 73 percent of Hispanic/Latino students have scored Needs Improvement or higher on all three tests.

While the level of progress we have seen at grade 10 over the years is very encouraging, we have an urgent need to identify and support those students entering their senior year of high school who have yet to meet the state's graduation requirement. We are working closely with school leaders to ensure that those students have access to adequate resources and interventions prior to further testing opportunities. We are monitoring this situation closely and I will keep you up to date on our progress.

Middle School Mathematics Needs Attention

Middle school mathematics, despite some gains since last year, remains an area of concern. At grades 7 and 8, fewer than half of all students statewide scored Proficient or higher in math in 2009. We are pursuing a number of strategies to support the delivery of high-quality middle school mathematics curriculum and instruction. Among these interventions is the new mathematics assessment requirement for educator licensure for elementary teachers and teachers of students with disabilities that was adopted by the Board in 2007 and took effect this year.

Public Release of School and District Results

The Department will publicly release MCAS results for schools and districts on September 16; we will provide you with these results and include them in our September 22 discussion of 2009 MCAS results and student Competency Determination attainment rates.


View HTML PageDepartment of Elementary and Secondary Education Press Release, September 2, 2009
  Summary of 2009 MCAS State Results
  Progress Report on Students Earning the Competency Determination (CD) Statewide and by School and District: Classes of 2009 and 2010 (September 2009)
Download PDF Document  Download PowerPoint FileReport on Spring 2009 MCAS Results to the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (September 2009)

Last Updated: September 23, 2009
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