Breaking down data as part of a report on MCAS scores in Foxboro, Assistant Superintendent Amy Berdos told the school committee on Monday that students are achieving above the state average and are still improving over time. Despite a high amount of students already hitting advanced or proficient scores on the state exam, the school district is still looking for ways to improve test scores
“When you are starting to hit the ceiling, you want to continue to see that growth. If they are low proficient, we want to see that we’re moving them to high proficiency. If they’re high proficient we want to make sure we’re moving them to advance,” Berdos said.
In the MCAS exam, advanced and proficient are the two highest scores a student can achieve.
Looking at data from the past five years in all three MCAS subjects, the performance of Foxboro students appear to be mostly consistent and strong.
Elementary students in third and fourth grade taking the English exam have shown consistency in their scores with 64-73 percent of students scoring at least Proficient.
Of the middle school test takers, grade five continues to have less students achieving high scores and eighth grade appears to have little growth. Fifth grade has a remained flat compared to last year with 69 percent of students scoring proficient or above, which is down from the high of 73 percent in 2011. While eight grade has some of the highest scores in the middle school, that means little space to grow. In 2013, 85 percent of eight graders scored either proficient or advanced.
In math, the greatest area of performance in math is in grades three, six, eight and 10 which had an increase in students scoring Advanced in each of these grades.
In addition, the last five years has seen a steady performance with the highest growth happening in fourth graders.
Grade Seven has also remained strong with between 62 and 68 percent scoring in the high achievement levels over the past five years.
The most frustrating results come in the science exam which saw a 16 percent decrease from 2012 and 2013 in high performing students from grade eight.
Science scores may not be comparable over grades however. The exams for grade five and eight cover four sciences that taught to students over a three year period. In 10th grade, the science exam is either the Biology or Chemistry depending on which class the student has taken by 10th grade. The majority of student in Foxboro take Biology as sophomores.
Despite the challenges in the science test, Foxboro’s performance remains ahead of the state average with larger improvements in tenth grade.
“50 percent (of students scoring proficient or higher) can be frustration but when they take that biology two years later, you’ve moved them to 90 percent.” Berdos said.
When looking at the results, Berdos made sure to mention that the exam has changed over the years, meaning different test are being used to compare achievement over the years.
“We want to look at the performance but keep in mind that it’s a different test each year with different students. It’s very important we look at growth,” Berdos said.