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2016 State Assessment Results Provide Window into CPS Performance

2016 State Assessment Results Provide Window into CPS Performance
Posted on 10/03/2016

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education released 2016 state assessment and accountability results for all districts on Monday, providing the Cambridge Public Schools (CPS) with a useful if somewhat limited view into the academic achievement and experience of Cambridge students.

2016 was a transitional year for assessment in Cambridge, as CPS joined the majority of Massachusetts districts that chose to administer the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) to students in grades 3-8 rather than the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS). In the end, seventy-two percent of all Massachusetts students in grades 3-8 participated in PARCC last year, according to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. MCAS continued to be administered for students at the high school level, and in science for students in grades 5 and 8.

The Cambridge School Committee approved the move to PARCC in December 2015, supporting the recommendation of then-Superintendent Jeff Young to give CPS students and educators the opportunity to experience the more rigorous assessment and begin preparing for the move to the state’s next generation assessment, “MCAS 2.0,” which will incorporate elements of PARCC. MCAS 2.0 will be administered for the first time in spring 2017 and fully administered as a computer-based assessment by spring 2019. Each CPS elementary and upper school was given the option of administering PARCC online in 2016 to gain this testing experience, and three schools chose to do so: the Haggerty School, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. School, and Putnam Avenue Upper School.

These schools’ experience administering PARCC provided CPS with valuable insight into the infrastructure support, device readiness, and teacher and student training necessary to successfully administer such computer-based assessments. Planning has already begun within the district to ensure readiness for administration of MCAS 2.0 this spring. Thanks to the “held harmless” provision the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education applied to districts that moved to PARCC, CPS was able to learn from the PARCC experience without risking its accountability status. Under “held harmless,” schools and districts were assured accountability levels might rise but would not fall unless schools failed to meet their assessment participation requirements. CPS was, and remains, a Level 2 district—one of the only urban districts in the state with this rating.

Unfortunately, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education could not calculate statewide performance in 2016 due to the demographic breakdown of districts that chose to administer PARCC versus those that administered MCAS. While statewide comparisons to CPS results are not possible, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education did cite the district’s PARCC performance in comparison to other urban districts in its press release about 2016 state results. The Department’s press release noted that, “Among urban districts, Cambridge stood out for having the highest percentage of students in grades 3-8 score in the Meeting Expectations range in English language arts (66 percent)…”

CPS results also highlight a variety of strengths within the district and across its schools. Three CPS schools rose from Level 2 to Level 1 status in the 2016: the Amigos, Kennedy-Longfellow, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. schools. Student growth remained strong for all students in the district in both English language arts (55 points) and math (51 points). CPS students with disabilities, English language learners, and Hispanic/Latino students achieved the greatest one-year gains of all student groups in both English language arts and science (with a +2 point increase or above in the proficiency index). In addition, the four-year graduation rate of CPS students significantly improved, increasing to 91.5 percent for all students from a rate of 88.0 the previous year. Black/African American students and English language learners achieved the greatest one-year gains; the graduation rate for Black/African American students rose over 7 percentage points to 90.5 percent, and the rate for English language learners rose over 9 percentage points to 93.1 percent.

For more information about Cambridge Public Schools’ accountability and assessment results, click here.

For more information on statewide PARCC results by grade and subject, click here.

For more information on statewide MCAS results by grade and subject, click here.

CONTACT:
Dr. Lori Likis, Chief Planning Officer: 617.349.6480 or llikis@cpsd.us