Next Generation MCAS
In recent weeks the official MCAS results have been released for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the North Reading Public Schools have received their scores for the Next Generation MCAS and shared this information with individual parents and students. As a District we have also presented our analysis to the school committee on November 13, 2017 and discussed this topic (among others) on the latest edition of Inside NRPS on local access. The link to this video is available on our website under News and Announcements.
While we have become accustomed to receiving standardized test scores over the past eighteen years there are some differences this year that are important to note. For the first time we are seeing the results, in grades 3-8, for the next-generation MCAS. This is a different and more rigorous MCAS assessment than we have seen in the past and one that is fully-aligned to our Massachusetts curriculum standards.
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has released several letters and provided informational presentations that ask us to consider some very important aspects of the shift to this new assessment. Links to this information is available on our District Website under Quick Links and also under the Assistant Superintendent’s MCAS page. I would like to highlight several of these aspects below.
- The scores on the next generation MCAS test are not comparable to the scores on previous “legacy” MCAS tests.
- There are new performance indicators for next generation MCAS (exceeding expectation, meets expectations, partially meeting expectations, not meeting expectations).
- There will likely be more students classified in the “not meeting expectations” range than were previously in the “needs improvement” range on the legacy MCAS.
- These Next Generation MCAS results do NOT mean that students learned less; the next-generation MCAS measures in a different way
- 2017 is the baseline year — the first year of a new assessment — and we expect scores to change over time, as occurred when the legacy MCAS debuted in 1998.
- Massachusetts educators set these standards, and they raised them in order to make sure our students will be college- and career- ready.
What does this mean for North Reading?
The Next Generation MCAS assessment is designed as a computer-based test (CBT) and we will be fully transitioned to a CBT environment in the spring of 2019 for grades 3- 8 and grade 10. For the spring of 2018 we will be testing on computers in grades 4-8 while grades 3 and 10 will remain on paper. With our recent upgrades to the wireless infrastructure at all five of our schools and with investments in our computers and Chromebook devices we are confident that we will be able to meet the needs of our students in a computer-based testing environment.
Our website provides many resources for parents and students in understanding the Next Generation MCAS. I hope that these documents, presentations, and guides will help everyone to become more conversant in the updates to our state assessment system and make the information provided to students as valuable as possible.
It is important for parents, students, and teachers to be mindful of the important data and information that the state assessments provide our school community about our curriculum and the progress our students are making toward meeting the expectations for the standards of our grade level. We recognize that the state assessment is just one of many data points throughout the year and that the MCAS does not tell the whole story of the student experience or the performance of the school. However, it does provide us with helpful information about our growth and is a good benchmark for us to look to as we continuously improve the teaching and learning in North Reading.
Our students have once again demonstrated that they are achieving at a high level and that our curriculum, instructional, and intervention practices are designed to be meeting the needs of all of our students in the district. While there is always room for improvement, it is important to note the dedicated work of our teachers and administrators in preparing our aligned curriculum and focusing our attention on the needs of the individual students in order to lead everyone to success.