Middle School MCAS scores: Nauset soars, Barnstable crashes, the rest languish

Nauset Regional Middle School leads the Cape in English - Barnstable science/tech engineering scores drop 30 points - Monomoy’s test scores belie the district’s self-proclaimed title as “the premier school of choice on Cape Cod”

Little good news in Cape's grade 8 MCAS scores

Middle school MCAS roundup

Barnstable’s eighth graders’ mathematics and science/tech engineering MCAS scores plummeted this year. Only 41% of the students scored advanced or proficient on the 2014 math test, down from 74% in 2013. 47% of Barnstable eighth graders scored advanced/proficient on the science and tech engineering test, down from 77% last year.

See the chart with all the MCAS scores below.

Meanwhile, eighth graders at Nauset Regional Middle School led the Cape with 92% advanced/proficient in English Language Arts, 79% on the math test and 63% on the S&TE test.

English Language Arts

The Monomoy Regional School District scored lowest on the eighth grade ELA test, with only 70% of students scoring advanced/proficient. Last year 84% of the students district-wide scored advance/proficient – 90% at Chatham Middle School and 86% at Harwich Middle School.

Mashpee improved from 76% proficient/advanced last year to 81% in 2014.

Other districts saw minor variances in their scores. Nauset led the Cape with 92% and Monomoy (70%) achieved the lowest percentage of advanced/proficient students on the eighth grade MCAS.

Mathematics

Mashpee marked a terrific improvement over last year’s grade eight MCAS math scores. 53% of Mashpee’s eight graders scored advanced/proficient versus only 19% last year.

Only 41% of Barnstable’s eighth graders scored advanced/proficient in mathematics this year, down from 74% in 2013 – a total of 33 percentage points.

Dennis-Yarmouth dropped from 36% proficient/advanced to 30% - the lowest percentage on the Cape.

Monomoy dropped from 44% advanced/proficient, district-wide to only 39% this year. In 2013 Chatham had 54% advanced/proficient and Harwich had 43%. The much larger number of students in Harwich skewed the district-wide average lower.

Dennis-Yarmouth and Monomoy marked the lowest percentage of advanced/proficient scores with 30% and 39%, respectively.

Nauset led the Cape with 79% advanced, proficient with Sandwich ranking second at 67%.

Science and Tech Engineering

Mashpee’s eight graders improved from 22% advanced/proficient in 2013 to 39% in 2014. Mashpee has received considerable assistance from the state this year in skill recovery at the middle school level. The district has also witnessed something of a “revolution” with the new leadership of Superintendent Brian Hyde and his overhaul of nearly the entire district’s administration.

Barnstable’s STE scores plummeted from 77% advanced/proficient in 2013 to only 47% in 2014.

Monomoy fell slightly with 46% of its eighth graders scoring advance/proficient versus 47% last year. In 2013 60% of Chatham students scored advanced/proficient versus 45% of Harwich’s students. Once again, the much higher number of low-scoring Harwich students dragged down the district-wide average.

Nauset led the Cape with 63% advanced/proficient with Cape Cod Lighthouse Charter coming in second at 56%. Dennis Yarmouth’s 35% ranking was the lowest on the Cape but a great improvement from their 2013 score of 23%. Sandwich ranked second lowest at 38% - a drop from 45% last year.

See the chart with all the MCAS scores below.

Conclusions

Eighth graders at Nauset do their teachers proud, leading the Cape in all three MCAS domains. Nauset Regional Middle School principal Dr. Maxine Minkoff told Cape Cod Today, “I really have a fabulous team here. I’m delighted!”

Cape-wide eight grade scores were generally not as impressive as the tenth grade scores. Were it not for Nauset’s high scores, it would tempt one to ask if there was something “wrong with the test.”

The two school districts with eight grade MCAS scores of greatest concern are, of course, Barnstable and Monomoy.

Barnstable is Cape Cod’s largest school district. To see such a sharp drop in their math and STE scores causes great concern. 399 students took the eighth grade MCAS in Barnstable this year – and only 163 of them achieved high scores on the math test. Worse still, 91 students failed the test outright.

Monomoy’s test scores belie the district’s self-proclaimed title as “the premier school of choice on Cape Cod.” As Chatham and Harwich’s student populations declined, their somewhat tattered academics came into sharper focus much the detriment of their school choice numbers. We fear that the more successful students have fled Monomoy in favor of Nauset and the charter schools. Still, these disappointing MCAS scores may explain why Superintendent Scott Carpenter discarded the principals from both Harwich and Chatham’s middle schools when hiring a leader for the new Monomoy Regional Middle School.

Mashpee, on the other hand, is a rather bright spot. Most are familiar with the travails that Mashpee has gone through in the past two years, from leadership changes to appalling test scores to a middle school under state oversight. In a single year, Mashpee increased the number of advanced/proficient eight graders’ math scores from 19% to 53%.

Mashpee’s success is solid proof that when a school district puts the right people in the right place with the right support, rapid turnarounds are indeed possible. An important part of Superintendent Hyde’s program was to promote and hire local candidates to key positions in the district. While Mashpee still has a long road ahead of it, Superintendent Hyde’s strategy appears to have paid off.

MCAS is a key to school competition

Every school district with low MCAS scores is full of excuses why the scores are misleading – some valid, some downright silly. However MCAS remains the most comprehensive objective ranking of one school district against another.

MCAS scores are an important shopping tool when parents and students make school choice decisions. There’s no Consumer Reports ranking for school districts, so MCAS remains a vital touch stone for school competition “shoppers”.

Vote in our Poll:
Has MCAS become the “Consumer Reports” metric for school choice decisions?


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