Boston Public Schools outpace state gains on most MCAS exams
BOSTON - For the sixth time in ten years, the state Department of Education today selected Boston Public Schools to host the statewide announcement of school and district MCAS scores, today at the Orchard Gardens K - 8 Pilot School in Roxbury, to highlight the steady and sustained progress of Boston students on the exams.
Acting Commissioner of Education Jeffery Nellhaus was joined by Mayor Thomas M. Menino, Boston School Committee Chair Dr. Elizabeth Reilinger and Boston Superintendent Dr. Carol R. Johnson in announcing the results.
Orchard Gardens was selected for its improvement at every grade level, with double-digit gains in percentages of students passing several exams. The school also moved more students into the Proficient level, including 10% gains in 3rd Grade Math, 12% gains in Grade 7 English Language Arts, and 13% gains in Grade 8 English Language Arts.
"Orchard Gardens is a wonderful example of a school that needed to improve student performance and has risen to the challenge," said Mayor Menino. "Principal Yolanda Burnett has done a tremendous job of working with her dedicated and talented staff to start to turn the school around. There is still work to do, but I am confident that the school will continue to improve with sustained support from the city and district, hard work from the teachers and staff and dedication of the families and neighbors."
The results at Orchard Gardens were indicative of performance across the Boston Public Schools. According to the results released today, BPS increased the percent of students scoring at Proficient or Advanced at a rate that met or exceeded statewide improvement in 9 of the 16 subject and grade tests. Likewise, BPS increased the percent of students passing the exams at a rate that met or exceeded statewide improvement in 13 of the 16 subject and grade tests.
The news was particularly good in math. Results showed an increase in the percent of students reaching Proficiency and above at all grades. Additionally, there was an increase in students passing the exams in every grade but fourth where the results were unchanged from 2006.
"The increased and unrelenting focus on math instruction is beginning to take hold," said Dr. Reilinger. "We have a rigorous math curriculum in every classroom across the city and have listened to feedback from teachers and families to adapt the way math is taught in Boston. With continued review of student results and interaction with schools, we know we'll see continued improvement of student achievement."
Grade 10 results, the tests that require at least a passing score as a state requirement for high school graduation, saw continued improvement. In 2007, 87% of students passed the English exams compared to 85% last year and just 43% when the test was first administered in 1998, and marking the highest number of students passing. On math, 82% passed the exam in 2007 compared to 78% last year and just 25% in 1998.
"We believe that every student has the ability to achieve proficiency and go on to college and career success. That is our mission for all students, from the 4-year-old in pre-kindergarten to the teenager in high school," said Dr. Johnson. "I am pleased to see more students meet the statewide standard for graduation but believe we must expect more of our students and must provide them with the instruction and support they need to achieve excellence."
Dr. Johnson will present a full report on district and schools performance to the School Committee at their next meeting.
4 schools, and recently won the Broad Prize for Urban Education as the top city school district in the country.