Latest MCAS scores are troubling
Luckily for 10th graders, state is grading on a curve
THE STATE released its latest MCAS results on Tuesday, and the scores seem alarming.
According to the Boston Globe, 61 percent of 10th graders statewide met or exceeded expectations on the new, more rigorous English exam, while the percentage was 59 percent on the tougher math exam put in place. Both percentages were well below the levels from 2018, when 91 percent of 10th graders scored proficient or advanced on the old English MCAS and 78 percent scored at that level on the old math test.
Luckily for the students, the state for the time being has is grading on a steep curve to maintain the same pass rate as in previous years. According to the Globe, that meant setting the passing score at the upper end of the “not meeting expectations” category, the lowest of the four categories. As a result, 87 percent of students passed the English, math, and science MCAS tests, the same percentage as last year.
“The lower bar will be in effect for at least two years, and the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will consider a request Tuesday to keep it there for a third year,” the Globe reported. “Eventually, the state wants to raise the bar so it reflects what students actually need to know to do well in college.”
“We’re giving folks a little breathing room as we all figure this out,” said Riley in a phone call with reporters Monday. “I think the switch over to the next generation is one where I kind of want to give folks time to get grounded in it.”
The Globe concludes the new test is just plain harder than the old one, so scores dropped. That’s a logical conclusion, but one could also argue that teachers were used to teaching to the old test, and now they’re having to shift their approach with the new test.By the way, the Globe’s glass-half-empty coverage of the test results was quite different from the way other news outlets covered them. The WBUR headline said “latest scores on new state test show some improvement — but racial gaps remain.” The Telegram & Gazette reported that MCAS scores showed little change across central Massachusetts. And MassLive reported that Massachusetts schools are seeing a modest increase in test scores.
Maybe it’s time to simplify the way these test scores are interpreted, so everyone’s on the same page.