Lighthouse Charter moves up in latest MCAS scores

Lighthouse Charter MCAS math up, English drops

Nauset Middle slides in math, English

By Walter Brooks

The MCAS data released today show the Cape Cod Lighthouse Charter School has addressed previous disappointments in their students’ performance on the state-wide testing system, most especially in Mathematics.

CCLCS student performance in Grade 8 Mathematics improved significantly from 2011 MCAS results.  In 2011, the charter middle school had 16% of its students in a failed/warning status for Grade 8 math.  This year that number dropped to zero.  The school also increased those with proficient status from 27% to 33% and advanced status from 31% to 38%.

Executive Director Niles and his faculty are making it a priority to ameliorate very disappointing Grade 7 math scores, which showed some 46% of seventh graders in the needs improvement (25%) or warning (21%) category.  CCLCS’ Grade 6 math scores slipped, though not as dramatically as did Grade 7, with 39% of the school in needs improvement or warning versus 32% last year.

Benchmarked against Nauset Regional Middle School, CCLCS has 11% more students scoring advanced in grade 8 math but 11% fewer in proficient status.  Nauset Middle School shows 7% of its eight graders in a failed/warning math status, an improvement over 10% in 2011.

In Grade 8 English Language Arts, CCLCS back-slid from 33% advanced in 2011 to only 26% proficient in 2012.  Nauset Middle dropped from 36% proficient in 2011 to 32% in 2012, however NRMS improved from 5% failed/warning last year to zero this year.

Cape Cod Lighthouse Charter School has faced criticism in recent years for its MCAS scores, which sometimes challenged the school’s reputation for academic excellence.  Last year, newly appointed Executive Director Paul Niles mapped out the school’s strategy for raising its math scores.

It appears Mr. Niles’ strategy is succeeding.  The school is taking additional steps to continue that curve of improvement this year with the implementation of “mini computer labs” in each math classroom, including the sixth grade math lab made possible this week through the good offices of the Masonic Angel Fund’s Laptops for KidZ project.  CCLCS is ramping up to implement the ALEKS math curriculum this year, as well.

This morning Paul Niles told Cape Cod Today, “We’re especially proud that not one eighth grader scored in the warning category in any test area.”

Benchmarked against Dennis-Yarmouth and Barnstable’s middle schools – districts that contribute significant numbers of students to the CCLCS – the charter school ranked significantly higher in Grade 8 Math and ELA.

With significant numbers of students entering CCLCS from Barnstable and Dennis-Yarmouth, the charter school faces a challenge that those students may not be as well-prepared those entering from the Nauset Region.  While students from the Nauset Region don’t have a compelling academic reason to choose Cape Cod Lighthouse Charter School, many families will enter the lottery because of the school’s small size and intimate culture.  For a family in the D-Y region or Barnstable, CCLCS represents an opportunity for a child to break out of a less-than-excellent academic culture into a school of higher achievers.

As CCLCS becomes more attractive – and more geographically accessible – to students from the mid-Cape area, this attraction brings with it some significant academic and financial challenges for the charter school.  Students from the mid-Cape appear to function at a lower skill level than those from the Nauset region, which challenges CCLCS to bring those kids’ performance up to acceptable levels while at the same time coping with the lower reimbursement rate charter schools receive from schools in the mid-Cape districts.

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