Minority students show significant improvement on 2001 MCAS- Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
For Immediate Release
Wednesday, October 24, 2001
Contact:Heidi B. Perlman, 781-338-3106 or Jim Borghesani, 617-727-2759

Minority students show significant improvement on 2001 MCAS

Boston - Minority student results improved dramatically on the 2001 MCAS, with a higher percentage of African­Americans, Hispanics and Asians passing both the English and mathematics exams than ever before.

State officials lauded the improvements at a Statehouse press conference on Wednesday, praising students and teachers for their achievements, and calling on educators and parents to turn their attention to every student who has not yet passed the statewide exam.

"Our minority students have sent us a strong message: challenge them because they'll respond, expect the best because they'll deliver, and set the bar high because they can ­ and will ­ clear it," said Governor Jane Swift. "By leveling the playing field with billions of dollars and holding every child to the same standard, students of all races and ethnicities are showing us that they have the capacity to learn and achieve. All kids deserve the opportunities that come with a world­class education and we are committed to helping them access those opportunities."

Statewide results released last week showed that 73 percent of all 10th graders who took both the English/Language Arts and Mathematics exams earned a competency determination on their first try, meaning they scored at least the required 220 on both exams.

That number is up 21 percentage points from 2000, when just 51 percent of all 10th graders passed both tests on their first try.

African­American results went up 21 percentage points, up from 21 percent passing both exams last year to 42 percent in 2001. Hispanics went up 19 percentage points to 37 points and Asian student results went up 17 percentage points to 75 percent passing both tests.

Overall, the improved passing rate of 10th graders who took both the math and English/Language Arts exams helped to slightly close the achievement gap between minorities and their white classmates.

"These results are definitely good news, but they force us to recognize that our greatest challenge is still getting our minority students, who are frequently from disadvantaged backgrounds, up over the bar," said Education Commissioner David Driscoll. "But I am encouraged by the improvements reflected here, and confident that with the right assistance, most of those who have had difficulty in the past will eventually be able to meet the graduation requirement."

Boston Superintendent Thomas Payzant agreed.

"Boston's school reform efforts have been focused on ensuring that every student at every school is getting the teaching and learning they need to succeed," he said. "The results released today show these efforts are having an impact for everyone."

In total, 48 percent of 10th grade African­Americans who have not yet passed the math exam scored between 216 and 218. Similarly, 45 percent of Hispanic, 42 percent of Asian and 61 percent of white students were also within striking distance of passing.

On the English/Language Arts exam, 42 percent of African­American, 34 percent of Hispanic, 42 percent of Asian and 54 percent of white students who have note yet passed the test were within four points of meeting the 220 requirement.

Among 10th grade students with disabilities who were tested, 46 percent passed the English/Language Arts exam and 39 percent passed the math exam. Among limited English proficient 10th graders, 39 percent passed the English exam, while 45 percent passed math.

Students from the class of 2003, this year's junior class, are the first who need to pass the English and math MCAS exams as a requirement for graduation. Those who failed one or both of the exams are eligible to take up to four retests, the first of which will be given in December.

Between now and then, schools are offering remedial classes for struggling students, trained volunteer tutors are being recruited and dispatched across the state to work one­on­one with teens, and an online tutoring program offering 24­hour assistance to every high school junior was launched on Monday.

"We've come a long way, and we still have a long way to go," Driscoll said. "But these results show me that we are absolutely moving in the right direction for all of our students."

Last Updated: October 24, 2001

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