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For Immediate Release
Tuesday, January 9, 2001
Contact:Jonathan Palumbo, 781-338-3105

Ratings Highlight Schools Improving and Schools Needing Attention

Malden - Massachusetts Commissioner of Education David P. Driscoll today released the School Performance Ratings report, the cornerstone of the School and District Accountability System, which highlights improvement many Massachusetts schools have made since 1998 and also focuses on schools that need review.

School Ratings are given in four different categories, Exceeded, Met, Approached or Failed to Meet improvement expectation. Of the state's 365 school districts one-third (120) had at least one school that exceeded improvement expectations. These districts include Boston, Worcester, and Springfield. In all, Boston had 20 schools exceed performance expectations, including 15 elementary schools, two middle schools and three high schools.

Based on 1998 MCAS test scores, all schools were placed in one of six baseline categories, Very High, High, Moderate, Low, Very Low or Critically Low. Each category has a point range for expected improvement. Using the average of the 1999 and 2000 MCAS test scores, each school was then rated as to whether they met their individual goal.

Commissioner Driscoll said, "The information in these reports will enable state and local school officials, teacher, parents, and members of the public to do an initial review of the progress individual schools and school systems are making toward meeting our goal of improving student performance. More importantly, we will look for the stories behind the ratings. There are schools in every district, and some in particularly disadvantaged neighborhoods in disadvantaged communities, that exceeded their expectations for improvement. Those are remarkable success stories."

School Performance Ratings for the first rating cycle are based on the average of 1999 and 2000 MCAS test results compared to 1998 baseline results. Performance and improvement ratings have been issued in English Language Arts, Mathematics and Science and Technology. Results have been averaged to arrive at overall performance and improvement ratings for each school.

"The School Ratings and School and District Accountability are all about improvement. The MCAS test scores are a picture of where schools are right now, but what is important, and what this system shows, is that we want to see schools improve, and have developed this system for them to show improvement," Commissioner Driscoll added.

More than half of the schools with 8th grade results increased the percentage of students who passed the English and Math MCAS tests. Also, 63% of the state's high schools increased the percentage of students who passed the Math MCAS test.

Commissioner Driscoll continued, "We have two main goals with MCAS and School and District Accountability. The first and most important goal is to move students out of the Failing category. The second goal is to move students into the Advanced and Proficient categories. The School Ratings show that 365 Massachusetts schools moved up to a higher performance level and/or increased the percentage of students who scored in Advanced and Proficient."

"Improvement has been achieved in many schools across the state. School officials can examine the improvement of other schools to see what changes have been made that supported these improvements," Commissioner Driscoll added.

Other results from the report show that in every performance category, from Critically Low to Very High, there are schools that Met or Exceeded their improvement expectations.

Most of the schools remaining in the Critically Low category are middle (35) and high schools (28). Only five of those schools Approached, Met or Exceeded their improvement expectations.

The School Ratings will also be used to determine which schools will be referred for panel reviews and which schools will be referred for further review to determine whether they should be recommended for Exemplary School status.

For more information on the School Performance Rating Process or to view the Cycle One School Performance Ratings report, visit the Department of Education website.

Last Updated: January 9, 2001
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