Southborough and Algonquin students outperform state on standardized tests (MCAS and college prep)

Above: This fall, district school committees heard presentations on students’ standardized test performances. (images cropped from presentation materials)

Over the past month, Southborough and Regional School Committees heard presentations on elementary through high school standardized test results. District students averaged well above state-wide comparisons. 

In November, the School Committee discussed the MCAS results for grades 3-8. Here are my takeaways.

  • Both historical and statewide data comparisons are limited and flawed.
    • This was just the second year for the new “MCAS 2.0”.
    • Transitioning from paper to digital testing has given schools flexibility on when to change. That means some schools were still on paper, and some were testing online for the first time, while Southborough had changed to online testing for grades 3-8 a couple of years ago. This spring will be the first year that all schools across the state will be tested online.
  • Data analysis tools help administrators examine subgroup results. The schools are evaluating data for economically disadvantaged students and results by gender, etc.
  • The schools are looking to improve Student Growth Potential – but the dip in figures from 2017 to 2018 is considered statistically insignificant.
  • Teachers are able to view individual students’ results to influence teaching. But that data is limited.
    • My understanding is that there is some detailed information about the scoring and examples of what scores mean. But they can’t view students’ actual answers. For instance, they can’t read students’ essays to understand why a score was low in certain areas and follow up with that child.
    • The statehouse has promised to provide more data over time.

Below are the broad views on grades 3-8 results. For more detailed stats, click here to open the full presentation slides. (You can also view the presentation via the SAM video here.)

2018 ELA MCAS 3-8 results 2018 Math MCAS 3-8 results

Two weeks ago, the Regional Committee learned how high schoolers fared not just on MCAS, but on AP, ACT, and SAT tests. Across the board, Algonquin students ranked well above state averages. 

The non-MCAS tests are all optional ones for college bound students. So, naturally the scoring skews higher. But the school had marks to boast about.

Most test takers hit the “college readiness” benchmarks. In Advanced Placement tests, ARHS ranked in the top 5% for the state (14 out of 286). 91.2% of students scored 3+ on the test vs 69% for the state and 61.3% internationally. They also performed above state averages for SATs and ACTs.

For the required test – 10th Grade MCAS – the school again performed well:

  • For 2018, Proficient or higher results were: 97% for ELA, 90% for Math, and 91% for Science.
  • Students who scored lower are put on a plan by the Guidance Department.
    • For math – Guidance ensures the students take a fourth year. (That’s not a general graduation requirement.)
    • Some are put in focus study
    • After school opportunities, like the Algonquin Writing Center.
    • If they don’t reach the Needs Improvement score of 220, they also need to successfully retake the test before graduating.

You can click here to view the graphs and charts for all four tests. Click here to hear the discussion via NCAT’s video.

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