BOSTON — Massachusetts education officials on Wednesday released the 2012 MCAS scores for schools and districts. It’s the first year the state is using a new five-level accountability system established under the Achievement Gap Act of 2010.
The new structure aims to cut proficiency gaps in half by 2017. The system classifies schools into five levels, ranging from Level 1, defined as “meeting gap-narrowing goals,” to Level 5, “chronically under-performing.” There are currently no Level 5 schools in the state.
State education leaders are using Columbus Park Preparatory Academy in Worcester as one example of how now the new classifications give schools room to improve.
The school is now Level 1, one of about 500 schools statewide that are meeting improvement goals on the MCAS. Two years ago it was a Level 3 — in the lowest 20 percent. The state got a waiver from the federal No Child Left Behind Act, which required all students to test proficient.
Education Secretary Paul Reville points out Columbus Park — with its diverse and lower-income area — focused on the basics of curriculum, strong teaching and high expectations.
“We have schools like this all across the commonwealth,” he said, “some people hiding behind the demographics and saying it can’t be done with these kinds of children. Columbus Park shows that it can be done.”
More than 300 schools in Massachusetts are still considered low-performing on the MCAS.