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Schools Test Significantly Above Average on MCAS

Students at all grade levels in Groton Dunstable Regional School District continue to score significantly above the state average on MCAS Tests administered in 2012. According to information presented to the School Committee at their Oct. 10 meeting, approximately 80 percent of all students at the elementary, middle school and high school level scored "proficient or advanced" on MCAS test in 2012. This compares to 60 percent of students statewide who scored proficient or advanced.

The MCAS Test is given annually to all students in public schools in Massachusetts and, in essence, tries to measure a student's competence and performance in the subject areas of English, math and science. At the elementary level, students are tested in English and math and at the middle school and high school level, students are tested in English, math and science.

At the high school level, 99 percent of all students scored proficient or advanced on English and 95 percent of all students scored proficient or advanced in math. However, although science scores at the high school and middle school were significantly above the state average, they were lower than English and math. At the middle school 77 percent of students scored proficient or advanced, nearly 30 percentage points higher than scores statewide in science. Percentage of students scoring proficient or advanced statewide on science at the middle school level was 47.5.

Sandards for MCAS testing will undergo some change in the coming several years in terms of what will be tested and the overall goal and purpose of the test. The MCAS Test had been used to measure a student's competence and knowledge in different subject areas especially English and math. The test was also an indicator of how well school districts perform in teaching those subject areas. Under the old federal legislation of "No Child Left Behind," 100 percent of students had to score proficient or advanced on the MCAS Test by 2014. That goal has been scrapped by a new, amended version of "No Child Left Behind" legislation. The new goal is to reduce by half the number of students who score at the "needs improvement" and failing level.

In addition, beginning next year, MCAS will begin to test students on new curriculum standards established by the new "No Child Left Behind" legislation. Groton-Dunstable already has adopted new curriculum standards and is in the process of training teachers on the new standards. In this school year (2012 - 2013), MCAS will begin to test students on new standards in English and math. In math grades three through eight will be tested on the new standards while in grade 10, the math test will assess students on both the old standards and the new ones.

School Committee member Jim Frey noted that the test scores over time have indicated the District hasn't made any progress in lowering the number of students who score at the "needs improvement" level. The percentage of students scoring at that level has been consistent from 2009 through 2012 - roughly 13 percent of students scoring "needs improvement" in English and 17 percent in math.

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