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For Immediate Release
Monday, September 21, 2015
Contact:Jacqueline Reis 781-338-3115

State Releases Statewide MCAS Results and Preliminary PARCC Results

MCAS results improve in most areas, preliminary PARCC results highlight challenges

Malden - The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education today released statewide MCAS results for 10th graders, statewide results for the 202,000 students in grades 3–8 who took MCAS, and partial preliminary results for students who took PARCC.

As part of the state's two-year test drive of PARCC, districts chose whether to give PARCC or MCAS in spring 2015, with the exception of the 10th grade MCAS, which remains a graduation requirement. Districts that chose PARCC had the option of administering it by computer or with paper and pencil. The PARCC results shared this evening reflect only those students who took PARCC on a computer, or roughly 59 percent of the Massachusetts students who took PARCC.

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education is expected to vote in November on whether to switch from MCAS to PARCC.

"I would like to thank all the students, teachers and administrators whose experiences will help the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to determine whether to adopt PARCC," said Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Mitchell D. Chester. "I am pleased to see the MCAS scores reflect continued progress in narrowing some of the achievement gaps that persist between groups of students. We also have our first look at partial PARCC scores, which will ultimately help establish a baseline for comparison with other PARCC states and with our own progress over time, should the board choose to adopt PARCC as our statewide assessment."

Overall, the percent of students scoring Proficient or higher on MCAS rose in most subjects in most grade levels compared to 2014. Also noteworthy is the fact that between 2007 and 2015, the gaps between white students and their African American/black and Hispanic or Latino peers narrowed in all grades in both English language arts and math. (The baseline year for the full grades 3–8 testing regimen is 2007.)

The preliminary PARCC results showed that in most grades, students who took PARCC math and English language arts tests on a computer were less likely to score in the "meeting expectations" range than MCAS students were to score Proficient or above. In other words, student achievement on PARCC for those who took the test on a computer appears to have been lower than for students who took MCAS. The exception was in grade 4, where the percent of students who scored in the "meeting expectations" range on a computerized PARCC test and the percent of students who scored Proficient or above on MCAS were virtually the same.

The high school PARCC results are not representative of the state as a whole. Relatively few Massachusetts high schools volunteered to give PARCC tests in grades 9 and 11, because of the 10th grade MCAS requirement, and only a subset of those who used high school PARCC tests did so on a computer.

Commissioner Chester and Education Secretary Jim Peyser cautioned Board members about reading too much into the preliminary results.

"This early report on PARCC results is preliminary and incomplete and therefore cannot yet be directly compared to this year's MCAS results," Secretary Peyser said. "I look forward to seeing the complete results as they become available."

Spring 2015 statewide MCAS results
Grade and subjectCategory
% Warning/failing% Needs improvement% Proficient% Advanced
3 ELA9324911
3 math11183932
4 ELA14334311
4 math13402919
5 ELA9204823
5 math12213235
5 science13373516
6 ELA10195219
6 math14243230
7 ELA823609
7 math23263020
8 ELA6145426
8 math17233129
8 science1840393
10 ELA364249
10 math8132553
10 science5234427


Preliminary Massachusetts PARCC Results from Computer-Based Tests
Grade and subjectLevel
 Meeting expectations
12345
3 ELA13%17%23%43%4%
3 math71725429
4 ELA613264213
4 math51928435
5 ELA61425496
5 math71728408
6 ELA61327459
6 math61629427
7 ELA812233720
7 math51832396
8 ELA812234413
8 math131922397
9 ELA*232224256
11 ELA*232120279
Algebra I*142621354
Geometry*82837261
Algebra II*472416121
Integrated Math I*1319153815
Integrated Math II*392622130

*While more than half of Massachusetts school districts that serve students in grades 3–8 gave PARCC in the spring, far fewer districts volunteered to use the PARCC high school tests, because the 10th grade MCAS is still a graduation requirement. In addition, some eighth grade students took Algebra I tests instead of eighth grade PARCC math tests.

Highlights of 2015 MCAS Results

Statewide MCAS results showed that 91 percent of 10th graders scored Proficient or higher in English language arts, 79 percent in mathematics, and 72 percent in science and technology/engineering (STE).

Student achievement statewide improved on 11 of the 17 MCAS tests administered in 2015. Results included a small increase in third grade English language arts, but those scores have been essentially flat over the past six years.

Other statewide results include:

  • 88 percent of 10th graders last spring (class of 2017) met the state's minimum testing requirements to earn a high school diploma on their first attempt by scoring Needs Improvement or higher in English language arts, mathematics and science and technology/engineering. That is the same percentage as last year (class of 2016) and in 2013 (class of 2015). Eleven years ago, when the graduation requirement first took effect with the class of 2003, only 68 percent met the requirements on their first try.
  • Between 2007 and 2015, the achievement gap in English language between white students and African American/black students and between white students and Hispanic or Latino students narrowed in all grades. The greatest gap narrowing in English language arts for African American/black students and Hispanic or Latino students occurred in 10th grade, where it narrowed by 19 percentage points and 18 percentage points respectively. That represents a 63 percent and 53 percent narrowing of the gap respectively.
  • In mathematics between 2007 and 2015, the achievement gap between white students and African American/black students and between white students and Hispanic or Latino students narrowed in all grades. Among African American/black students, the greatest narrowing occurred in grade 4, with an 8 percentage point reduction in the gap. Among Hispanic or Latino students, the greatest narrowing occurred in grade 3, where it narrowed by 11 percentage points.

A note about representative samples

The fact that districts chose which assessment to give to grades 3–8 in spring 2015 meant that the student body in districts that chose MCAS and the student body in the districts that chose PARCC were not representative of the state as a whole in terms of students' prior achievement, income level, race, English proficiency and level of disability. To make the results meaningful for the state as a whole, ESE is using large representative samples of the groups that more closely mirror the state's actual enrollment primarily in terms of prior achievement and secondly with respect to demographics, English proficiency and level of disability. For instance, the grades 3–8 data for MCAS presented in this release includes the results of about 74 percent of the students in grades 3–8 who took MCAS, not the entire universe of test-takers. When district and school results are released later this week, those will include all of the tested students in a given district or school.

For more information on MCAS, visit http://www.doe.mass.edu/mcas/. For more information on PARCC, visit www.doe.mass.edu/parcc and http://www.doe.mass.edu/parcc/TestDrive-2yr.pdf.

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Last Updated: September 21, 2015
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