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For Immediate Release
Wednesday, December 9, 1998
Contact:Jan O'Keefe

1998 School and District MCAS Scores Released

Cambridge - Massachusetts Education Commissioner David P. Driscoll today released all 351 district and 1,800 school results of the 1998 MCAS tests, at a press conference at the Morse School in Cambridge.

Within the next two weeks, school districts will send to parents of children in grades five, nine and eleven individual scores of their children who took the tests as fourth, eighth and tenth graders in May.

Commissioner Driscoll said, "I chose to release the school and district results at a school with students, parents, teachers and administrators in order to draw attention to the stories behind the numbers. The Morse School shows what challenges exist in our urban areas, and what results are possible when a strong curriculum is tied to a strong school/teacher/parent partnership."

The Morse School is a K-8 school of 300 students. More than 40% are from low-income families (far above the state 26% average). All Morse School fourth and eighth graders were tested, without exception.

The Morse School fourth graders scored very high. Five years ago, parents suggested to the school principal, James Coady, that the teachers use a "core knowledge" curriculum, and the principal and teachers have subsequently implemented it.

The Morse School fourth grade students scored 233 in English language arts (above the state average scaled score of 230). In math and science their scores were "Proficient." Morse students scored 240 in math (above the state average of 234). In science/technology, they scored 243 (above the state average of 238).

In grade eight, Morse School students scored 238 in English language arts (above the state average of 237); in math, Morse students scored 233 (above the state average of 227); and in science/technology, Morse School students scored 225 (equal to the state average).

The state-required tests, written by teachers and college and university professors under the direction of the Department of Education, were given for the first time last spring to measure students' knowledge of the academic learning standards in the state curriculum frameworks. In the spring of 1999, the MCAS will add a test in history and social science for eighth and tenth graders and a question tryout for fourth graders. A foreign languages test is being developed and will be added in the future.

MCAS scores range from 200 to 280 and cover four performance levels: Advanced, with a score range of 260-280; Proficient, with scores between 240-259; Needs Improvement, with scores between 220-239; and Failing, with scores ranging between 200-219.

Superintendents have received individual student, school and district reports for all students in grades four, eight and ten. The superintendents have a copy of the student report to mail home and a copy to keep for analysis. An accompanying guide for parents has been provided, and is available in eight languages (Spanish, Portugese, Khmer, Chinese, Vietnamese, Cape Verdean, Haitian and Russian). Also, the schools have a "test item analysis" report that shows every student response to every multiple choice question, and shows their scores on open-ended questions and essays, as well.

Schools will use this data as a tool to diagnose the needs of individual students, and to strengthen the academic curriculum and instructional methods used by teachers.

All school and district results are now available on the Massachusetts Department of Education website, which is Further data will be placed on the site over the next several weeks, including the test item analysis, without identifying individual students.

Parents and others who want copies of the educational school and district profiles may find these on the website, or may call the Department of Education's Parent Information Center at 1-800-297-0002 to request paper copies.

Last Updated: December 9, 1998
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