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For Immediate Release
Monday, November 25, 2002
Contact:Heidi B. Perlman 781-338-3106

Cycle II Ratings Show All Grades Gain in English, Most Gain in Mathematics

Boston - Schools across the state made strong gains in English language arts performance and slight gains in mathematics, according to the new Cycle II School and District Ratings released at the Statehouse on Monday.

Rating reports show that over the last four years every high school in the state has improved, with 99 percent scoring either at or above its improvement target in English and 98 percent doing so in mathematics.

Education officials also announced that the state's list of schools identified for improvement for not making Annual Yearly Progress (AYP), a designation mandated by the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law, has been reduced from 259 to 194 at this time. Of that total, about 100 are on the list for the second time.

The Proficiency Index on which Cycle II ratings are based measures the progress districts and schools are making toward meeting the NCLB goal of moving all students to proficiency in English and math by 2014. Performance and improvement ratings are issued every two years.

The baseline ratings were developed based on student performance on the 1999 and 2000 MCAS exams, Cycle II ratings are based on performance on the 2001 and 2002 MCAS exams.

"These ratings embody what Education Reform has been about from the very beginning," said Education Commissioner David P. Driscoll. "What we are seeing now is the efforts of our teachers, administrators, parents and students from all areas paying off. As a result we are making gains across this state."

In all, 1,630 schools received performance ratings ranging from critically low to very high based on MCAS performance over the last two years. Statewide, 59 percent rated high or very high in English and 25 percent rated high or very high in math.

Three-quarters of the 1,630 schools also received improvement ratings, which compare MCAS results from the last two years (Cycle II) to performance from 1999 and 2000. One quarter of the schools did not receive the improvement ratings because they are new schools, or too small to produce a rating.

Overall, of the 1,326 school improvement ratings that were released in English, 1,098 (83 percent) were at or above their target improvement; of the 1,265 ratings in math, 694 (55 percent) were at or above their target improvement. Of the state's 320 districts that were rated, 94 percent were at or above their target in English and 76 percent were at or above their target in math.

Every high school in the state improved, with 99 percent scoring "on target" or above in English and 98 percent scoring on target or above in math. More than 80 percent scored on target or higher in both subjects.

While officials lauded the high school results, Commissioner Driscoll pointed out that the significant gains in 10th grade performance in 2001 may have been a one-time phenomenon, resulting in part from increased student effort the first time high stakes were attached to the MCAS exam.

In other grades:

  • Of the 338 middle schools that received improvement ratings in English 315 (94 percent) scored at or above target in English.
  • Of the 324 middle schools that received improvement ratings in math, 177 (55 percent) scored at or above target.
  • Of the 712 elementary schools that received improvement ratings in English, 508 (71 percent) scored at or target.
  • Of the 666 elementary schools that received improvement ratings in math, 245 (37 percent) scored at or above target.

"What I see in these results is that while we are rapidly making strides in English, in our lower grades we are still lagging in math," Commissioner Driscoll said. "We need to do more to ensure that from a very young age, all of our students get the basic skills they need to gain a deeper understanding of mathematics so they can do better in their classes, on the MCAS exam, and in life."

Officials also noted more than 150 schools have been taken off the state's list of Schools in Need of Improvement published in 2000. The original list of 259 schools was based on results from the Cycle I rating reports. The new list, based on Cycle II results, contains 194 schools at this time. Ratings for an additional 100 schools are still under review, up to a dozen of which may later be identified as being in need of improvement.

Low-income students in the Title I schools on the list for the second time will be eligible for supplemental services under NCLB. These services can include tutoring, small group instruction and other educational interventions, and will be provided outside of the regular school day.



Last Updated: November 25, 2002
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