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N.B. Public Schools make steady progress on MCAS; continues to narrow proficiency gap

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With state data released for 2015, New Bedford Public Schools’ Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) scores for Spring 2015, in the two Level 4 schools that remained with MCAS as part of their turnaround plans, continued to see steady progress, narrowing the proficiency gap with other Commissioner’s Districts and significant gains in many areas.

The scores at the Hayden-McFadden School, the district’s Level 4 elementary school, and New Bedford High School, the district’s Level 4 high school, in many cases outpaced and in others remained on track with growth from the nine other Commissioner’s Districts in Massachusetts. In New Bedford, only Hayden-McFadden and NBHS continued MCAS in 2015, while other schools began the Partnership for Assessing Readiness for College and Career (PARCC).

New Bedford High School’s Grade 10 English Language Arts (ELA) MCAS scores showed meaningful change in increasing the number of students scoring Advanced or Proficient; that rate rose from 66% in 2014 to 69% in 2015. In addition, the school decreased the number of students scoring Needs Improvement and Warning/Failure from 33% in 2014 to 31% in 2015, demonstrating continued progress. (Commissioner’s Districts’ growth for Advanced or Proficient was 4 percentage points; Urban districts’ growth was 4 percentage points; the state average was 1 percentage point. New Bedford remained on track with growth of 3 percentage points.)

The scores at the Hayden-McFadden School, the district’s Level 4 elementary school, and New Bedford High School, the district’s Level 4 high school, in many cases outpaced and in others remained on track with growth from the nine other Commissioner’s Districts in Massachusetts.

NBHS Grade 10 Math MCAS scores showed that Advanced or Proficient scores rose from 41% of students in 2014 to 43% of students in 2015, while the number of students scoring Needs Improvement and Warning/Failure dropped meaningfully, from 59% in 2014 to 54% in 2015. (Commissioner’s Districts’ growth for Advanced or Proficient was 1 percentage point; Urban districts’ growth was 2 percentage points; the state average was 0 percentage point growth. New Bedford remained on track with 2 percentage points of growth).

NBHS Grade 10 Science MCAS scores indicated a significant drop in the number of students scoring Warning/Failure, from 21% in 2014 to 16% in 2015. (Commissioners’ Districts’ average growth for Advanced or Proficient was 1 percentage points; Urban districts’ average growth was 2 percentage points; New Bedford outpaced both with growth of 4 percentage points.)

At Hayden-McFadden, schoolwide and grade-level results showed improvement for the students. Across the school in the ELA MCAS, students scoring Advanced or Proficient rose from 20% in 2014 to 24% in 2015, showing significant progress. Students scoring Needs Improvement and Warning/Failure sank from 80% in 2014 to 77% in 2015.

Grade level results for Hayden-McFadden also remained similar to the Commissioner’s Districts and in several instances exceeded the growth that other Commissioner’s Districts saw.

Hayden-McFadden Grade 3 Math MCAS scores increased significantly. In 2014, 50% of students scored Advanced or Proficient and 50% scored Needs Improvement or Warning/Failure. In 2015, 65% of students scored Advanced or Proficient and 35% scored Needs Improvement or Warning Failure. (Commissioner’s Districts’ average growth for Advanced or Proficient was 3 percentage points; Urban districts’ average growth was 3 percentage points; the state average was 2 percentage points. New Bedford far outpaced this growth and grew by 15 percentage points, five times the urban districts’ average.)

“It is encouraging that our scores have in many cases outpaced the average of districts similar to New Bedford, or have stayed on track,” said Superintendent Pia Durkin.

Hayden-McFadden Grade 4 ELA MCAS scores increased dramatically. In 2014, just 8% of students scored Advanced or Proficient; in 2015, that more than tripled, with 28% of students scoring Advanced or Proficient. (Commissioner’s Districts’ average growth for Advanced or Proficient was 5 percentage points; Urban districts average growth was 4 percentage points; the state average dropped by one percentage point. New Bedford grew by 20 percentage points, five times the urban districts’ average.)

Hayden-McFadden Grade 4 Math MCAS scores increased significantly. In 2014, 14% of students scored Advanced or Proficient; in 2015, that rose to 23% of students who scored Advanced or Proficient. (Commissioner’s Districts’ average growth for Advanced or Proficient was 0 percentage points, remaining stagnant; Urban districts average growth was 4 percentage points; the state average dropped by one percentage point. New Bedford grew by 9 percentage points.)

Hayden-McFadden Grade 5 ELA MCAS scores remained on track, with students at Hayden-McFadden rising from 18% scoring Advanced or Proficient in 2014 to 19% in 2015. Hayden-McFadden saw an 8 percentage point reduction in students scoring Warning/Failure, dropping from 48% in 2014 to 40% in 2015. (Commissioner’s Districts’ average reduction for Warning/Failure was stagnant at 0 percentage points; Urban districts’ average reduction was stagnant at 0 percentage points; the state average reduced Warning/Failure by 1 percentage point. New Bedford reduced significantly by 8 percentages points.)

Hayden-McFadden Grade 5 Math MCAS scores showed a vast improvement in moving students out of the Warning/Failure category. In 2014, 58% of students scored in the Warning/Failure category; that dropped by 18 percentage points to 40% in 2015, a dramatic decrease. (Commissioner’s Districts’ average reduction for Warning/Failure was a decrease of 4 percentage points; Urban districts’ average was a decrease of 3 percentage points; the state average decreased by 3 percentage points. New Bedford decreased Warning/Failure scores by 18 percentage points, six times the average of urban districts.)

“It is encouraging that our scores have in many cases outpaced the average of districts similar to New Bedford, or have stayed on track,” said Superintendent Pia Durkin. “More important than the scores are what they reflect: that more children are learning every day in our schools. The results show that we as a district are targeting our efforts effectively to support our teachers and administrators to give all of our children high-quality, high-caliber instruction in every classroom.”


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