Massachusetts students and teachers can bid farewell, fond or not, to the MCAS — at least, in its original form.
After a three-year transition, the exam has now been fully replaced. From now on, students will take a new test (which some have called “MCAS 2.0”) that will be taken on a computer and promises to better assess students’ readiness for college-level courses and the working world.
State officials have taken pains to say that despite its name, “MCAS 2.0” is a fundamentally new exam, and its new scoring rubric can’t be compared to the legacy test’s. So our infographic showing the last 10 years of student performance — by district and sub-population — has received its final update:
In general, those final scores show the continuation of a number of long-term trends.
For instance, a slightly larger share of public school sophomores statewide earned a score of “advanced” or “proficient” on the test’s science section, and a larger share scored "advanced" on the English/language arts.
In Boston, a greater percentage of students scored “advanced” or “proficient” on both science and English than did last year.
But some more worrying trends persisted, too. In Boston and statewide, black and Latino students, English learners and those from low-income households made progress on their scores or held steady — but they still tended to earn one of those satisfactory scores at markedly lower rates than their white and Asian peers.
That score gap — whatever you call it — has shown up in nearly all American standardized tests, including the most prominent national exam, for decades. Although Massachusetts has, on average, the nation’s top-performing public schools, Stanford’s Center for Education Policy Analysis found that it also has wider-than-average score gaps separating its white students from their black or Latino neighbors.
And this last batch of MCAS scores show another gap, one that’s even widening in areas: between the state average scores and lower average scores in its diverse, relatively low-income “gateway cities,” like Brockton and Chelsea.
Officials in some of those cities have threatened a lawsuit over what they have deemed inadequate education funding from the state.
But they could be mollified by the landmark legislation unanimously passed by both houses of the Legislature last month, should it pass through conference committee — and into law — by the end of the current legislative session.
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