MCAS

Your child must pass MCAS to graduate from a Massachusetts public High School

Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS)

The Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) is designed to meet the requirements of the Education Reform Law of 1993. This law specifies that the testing program must test all public school students in Massachusetts, including students with disabilities and limited English proficient students;

measure performance based on the Massachusetts Curriculum Framework learning standards; report on the performance of individual students, schools, and districts.

As required by the Education Reform Law, students must pass the grade 10 tests in English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics as one condition of eligibility for a high school diploma (in addition to fulfilling local requirements).

In addition, the MCAS program is used to hold schools and districts accountable, on a yearly basis, for the progress they have made toward the objective of the No Child Left Behind Law that all students be proficient in Reading and Mathematics by 2014.

Parents may not legally refuse their child’s participation in MCAS tests. Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 76, Sections 2 and 4, establish penalties for truancy as well as for inducing unlawful absence of a minor from school. In addition, school discipline codes generally define local rules for school attendance and penalties for unauthorized absence from school or from a required part of the school day.

2008 MCAS results

2008 MCAS Results Show Continued Mathematics Gains in All Grades

Declining Results in Elementary Reading Prompt Call For Change

BOSTON – For the second year in a row, Massachusetts students in every grade tested made gains on the 2008 Mathematics MCAS exams, resulting in the best math results in the history of the state’s assessment program, according to results released on Tuesday.

English language arts (ELA) results in the elementary grades declined and were flat in middle school, prompting education officials to call for a re-examination of early literacy programs.

“Massachusetts students and teachers, particularly in our high schools, have given us another reason to be proud of them,” said Gov. Deval Patrick. “At the same time, we must do more to meet their needs. The Readiness Project will help.”

Statewide 80 percent of students in the class of 2010 have passed the English, Math and Science exams required for a high school diploma. In all, 93 percent passed the English exam, 88 percent passed the Math exam, and 83 percent passed the exam in Science and Technology/Engineering (STE).

The class of 2010 – this year’s junior class – is the first required to pass the MCAS STE exam in addition to the English and Math exams in order to earn the competency determination necessary to receive a high school diploma. About 7 percent of the class of 2010 passed ELA and Math, but have not yet passed the STE exam.

“Our young people are achieving at high levels, and that is a testament to the hard work, dedication and commitment of our students, teachers and administrators,” said Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester. “That said, I remain concerned about the performance of students in our lower grades. It is our responsibility as educators to meet the needs of every child, in every grade, from every community, and these scores indicate we are not there yet.”

Education Secretary Paul Reville agreed.

“We are making progress, but we still have an achievement gap to close, and flat or declining ELA results in our elementary and middle schools,” he said. “We are committed to changing the conditions of public education to encourage further growth and achievement. This includes linking curricula to the real world, forming partnerships with institutions of higher education and local businesses, and attracting enthusiastic, committed and dedicated educators to the profession. Going forward these must be our goals, because it is what our children deserve.”

ELA results showed a decline in the percentage of students scoring Proficient and higher in grades 3, 4 and 5, and flat results in grades 6, 7 and 8. At grade 3 the percent of students scoring Proficient or higher declined two- to three- points across all racial/ethnic subgroups; at grade 4, where the decline across racial/ethnic subgroups ranged from 5-7 points.

In contrast, significant gains were made in grade 10 on the ELA exam, highlighted by subgroup performance: The percent of Black students who scored Proficient and higher rose 9 percentage points; the percent of Hispanic/Latino students who scored Proficient and higher rose 7 percentage points.

Commissioner Chester voiced concern about the overall performance of Limited English Proficient students, who, at 37 percent, had the lowest passing rate on the grade 10 STE exam.

Under the new STE Performance Appeal process approved by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education last week, students with high performance in the classroom and a 95 percent attendance rate will be eligible to file an appeal in Science after taking the exam once. Appeals will only be granted to students whose classroom work is comparable to that of other students who received a passing grade on the STE exam.

STE results showed significant gains in grade 8, with the percentage of students scoring Proficient and higher up 6 points between 2007 and 2008.

According to the results:

Students in all ethnic groups and subgroups made progress:

Black students made 3-9 point gains in the percent scoring Proficient and higher on 8 MCAS tests between 2007 and 2008: ELA at grades 6 and 10; Mathematics at grades 4, 5, 6, 8, and 10; and STE at grade 8

Asian students made three- to seven-point gains on 11 MCAS tests: ELA at grades 6, 7, 8, and 10; Mathematics at grades 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, and 10; STE at grade 8

Hispanic/Latino students made 4-7 point gains on 7 MCAS tests: ELA at grade 10; Mathematics at grades 3, 4, 6, 8, and 10; and STE at grade 8

White students made 3-8 point gains on 5 MCAS tests: ELA at grade 10; Mathematics at grades 6, 8, and 10; and STE at grade 8

Students with disabilities made 1-5 point gains in the percent scoring Proficient and higher on 9 MCAS tests: ELA at grades 6 and 10; Mathematics at grades 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, and 10; and STE 8

Limited English proficient students made 1-4 point gains on 6 MCAS tests: ELA at grades 6, 8 and 10; Mathematics at grades 3, 6, and 10

Low income students made 1-5 point gains on 10 MCAS tests: ELA at grades 6 and 10; Mathematics at grades 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 10; and STE at grade 8

The following percents of students in the class of 2010 have already earned a passing score of 220 or higher on all three grade 10 tests: 58 percent of Black students, 85 percent of Asians, 54 percent of Hispanics, 87 percent of white students, 47 percent of students with disabilities, 28 percent of limited English proficient students, and 61 percent of low income students.

Of the 4 percent who failed the grade 10 ELA test, 78 percent earned a scaled score of 216 or 218, just short of the 220 required to pass. Of the 9 percent who failed the grade 10 Mathematics test, 80 percent earned a scaled score of 216 or 218. Of the 13 percent who failed the grade 10 STE test, 68 percent earned a scaled score of 216 or 218.

The Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System exam has been given annually as a key part of the state’s Education Reform efforts since 1998. District and school results from the 2008 MCAS are still being compiled and will be released publicly later this month

Executive Summary of the 2008 MCAS State Results

In spring 2008, 551,688 Massachusetts public school students in grades 3–10 participated in the eleventh administration of the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS). A total of twenty MCAS tests in English Language Arts (ELA), Mathematics, and Science and Technology/Engineering were administered to students across eight grade levels tested. State-level results for these tests are provided in this report.

View the Entire MCAS State 2008 Results Report

MCAS and my child.

Students in Massachusetts public schools must pass tenth grade MCAS to graduate.

MCAS requirements for the class of 2010 will require a score of proficient in English Language Arts (ELA), Mathematics, and Science and Technology/Engineering (STE), and fulfill all local requirements to graduate from High School.

No matter what your child’s grade are in their school repot card, you must look at the yearly MCAS results to see if your child is keeping up with their peer group. If your child can not pass the MCAS test it is imperative you contact the school district and seek additional academic support.

How do students with disabilities participate in MCAS tests?

The student’s IEP Team or 504 team must determine annually how a student with disabilities will participate in MCAS in each subject scheduled for assessment. This information must be documented in the student’s IEP and should be documented in the student’s 504 Plan. The team may determine that the student can take the standard test with or without accommodations or may be eligible to take the MCAS Alternate Assessment. Guidelines to assist IEP Teams and 504 teams in making decisions regarding how each student will participate in MCAS tests are available in the Requirements for the Participation of Students with Disabilities in MCAS.

How are MCAS test results used?

Improvements in teaching and learning

Parents, students, and educators use the results to:

Follow student progress
Identify strengths, weaknesses, and gaps in curriculum and instruction
Fine-tune curriculum alignment with the statewide standards
Gather diagnostic information that can be used to improve student performance
Identify students who may need additional support services/remediation
School and district accountability

As required by the Education Reform Law, the Board of Education established a rating system and standards for improving student academic performance that schools and districts must meet. In addition, under No Child Left Behind the Department reports on the Annual Yearly Progress of students in schools and districts based on MCAS results.

View more information on the School Performance Ratings Process

Student accountability

Students are required to pass the MCAS grade 10 tests in English Language Arts and Mathematics and, beginning with the class of 2010, one high school test in Biology, Chemistry, Introductory Physics, or Technology/Engineering, and fulfill all local requirements, to be eligible for a high school diploma. Students are given multiple opportunities, if necessary, to pass the tests. Students also must meet local requirements for high school graduation (for example, completion of required coursework).

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