The recent release of the spring 2019 MCAS results show that Sandwich students have generally stayed strong in all three test subjects since last year.
Last spring’s test was the first time that all schools in the state were required to take the new Next Generation test, which is entirely done on a computer as opposed to the legacy test, which was taken using pencil and paper.
While the district’s elementary school students had taken the newer test the year before, last spring was the first time that the 10th graders had seen the test.
Student results are evaluated on a scale of Exceeding Expectations, Meeting Expectations, Partially Meeting Expectations, and Not Meeting Expectations.
In addition to assessing student achievement, the test has also been designed to assess the rigor of the state-designed curriculum—if a majority of students are exceeding expectations, then the curriculum may not be intensive enough. Likewise, if a majority of students are not meeting the expectations, the curriculum may be too difficult.
The test assessed student skills in English, math and science in grades 3 through 10. In all subjects in grades 5 through 10, Sandwich students performed better than the state average.
Of particular note are the 6th grade English and math scores, the 7th grade English scores, and the 8th grade science scores.
In 6th grade, 63 percent of students scored as having met or exceeded the expectations on the English test, compared to the state average of 53 percent. Of those students, 51 percent scored as meeting the expectations where the average across the state was 41 percent.
On the math test, 71 percent of 6th graders scored as meeting or exceeding the expectations. The state average was 52 percent. A total of 12 percent of those students exceeded the expectations where the state average was 10 percent. Only 5 percent of 6th graders did not meet the expectations, compared to 10 percent across the state.
Of the 7th graders who took last year’s English test, 65 percent scored as having met or exceeded the expectations. The state average was 48 percent. Of those students, 17 percent exceeded the expectations, which was more than double the state average of 8 percent. There were 6 percent of 7th graders who did not meet the expectations on the test, which was about half of the state average of 13 percent.
The science portion of the test was administered to 5th, 8th, and 10th graders. The 8th graders were on par with the state average on the science test at 46 percent of them scoring as having met or exceeded the expectations. Of those, 43 percent met the expectations compared to the state average of 38 percent.
The 10th graders last year took the old pencil and paper test rather than the Next Generation MCAS. This was true across the state. This legacy test was graded on a scale of Advanced, Proficient, Needs Improvement, and Failing.
Sandwich had 78 percent of 10th graders score as advanced or proficient. Across the state, 74 percent of 10th graders scored the same.
While there were very few shortcomings in the Sandwich results, the district’s 4th graders appear to have struggled a bit, though only slightly, in math. A total of 56 percent of 4th graders did not meet or partially met the math expectations where 51 percent of students across the state scored the same.
However, in both English and math the average of all students in grades 3 through 8 who scored as having met or exceeded the expectations did better than the average across the state.
The test results from 2017 showed the district that there was room for improvement when it came to teaching math. The improvements they made included developing intervention plans for at-risk students and increasing the time they spend on math in the classroom, particularly at the STEM Academy level.
Comparing that year’s 8th grade math scores to last year’s 10th grade scores, which are from the same group of students, they improved from 51 percent of students meeting or exceeding expectations to 63 percent over the two years. In 2017, 44 percent of those students partially met the expectations. That number decreased to 32 percent in their 10th grade results.
The same group of students also saw significant improvement on the science test, having had 45 percent rate as proficient or advanced in 2017 compared to the 78 percent on the spring test.