The State recognized a Watertown School for its results on the 2019 MCAS test, and Watertown Middle School improved its scores enough so that it will no longer be under special scrutiny by state officials.
Superintendent Dede Galdston gave an overview of the Watertown Public Schools’ results on the statewide standardized test at Monday’s School Committee meeting.
“We did very well on the exams,” Galdston said. “I am very proud of the work that was done last year, and we will no longer require assistance or intervention (from the state).”
Under the new version of the MCAS, schools receive up to four points in a variety of categories, including growth and achievement in English Language Arts, math and sciences. Other indicators are looked at such as chronic absenteeism for all schools and four year graduation rate at the high school. The state also looks at the “lowest performing students,” which is the bottom 25 percent.
The scoring system is different from the original MCAS tests, and calculating a score for a school or district is complicated. The scores are then weighted with the all students category getting more weight than the lowest 25 percent. Then a final percentage is calculated. Then the previous year’s scores are included, and and overall score is calculated, with the current year weighted 60-40 over the previous year.
Schools are also given a target score, and the results classify them in one of seven designations, from “Broad/comprehensive support” on the low end, to “School of Recognition” on the top.
The Watertown Public Schools as a district earned the designation of “Substantial progress toward targets.” The 2019 scores for Watertown gave it a score of 56 percent, after getting 73 percent in 2018, for an overall score of 63 percent.
Some of the scores can be confusing. School Committee Vice Chair Kendra Foley pointed out that as a district Watertown got a zero on English Language Arts (ELA) achievement but got a three in ELA growth.
Galdston said that the growth measures the scores of a cohort students (i.e., the same group as fourth grade one year, and as fifth graders the next year). Achievement, however, is based on the current year’s results.
“Our students grew more than others in that cohort, but did not necessarily achieve as highly,” Galdston said.
One school in particularly, the Hosmer Elementary School, stood out not only compared to other schools in town, but across the state.
“They got threes and fours across the board,” Galdston said. “Hosmer is one of 67 schools in the state to be recognized for high growth.”
In 2019, Hosmer got 91 percent overall, and 91 percent on the 2019 MCAS, as well. It was given the designation of “Meeting or exceeding targets.” (See the Hosmer Elementary School results by clicking here).
Watertown Middle School’s scored zeros in math, ELA and science achievement in 2018, and the which mean the school required intervention. This included creating a school improvement plan. This year the school got a two in Math, a one in science and zero in ELA overall.
Bigger improvements were seen in the lowest performing students, which got threes and fours in 2019, compared to zeros, ones and twos in 2018. The improvement moved it into the designation of “Moderate progress toward targets.” (See the Watertown Middle School results by clicking here).
The scores at the high school rose from 40 percent in 2018 to 60 percent in 2019, and the overall score was 63 percent. The school got several fours, but got two points for ELA growth and the four year graduation rate. It got the designation of “Substantial progress toward targets” (See the Watertown High School results by clicking here).
Cunniff Elementary School’s overall percentage was 62 percent, and in 2019 the school got 40 percent. It got zeros in ELA and science achievement and in ELA for the lowest performing students. The school was given the designation of “Substantial progress toward targets.” (See the Cunniff Elementary School results by clicking here).
“There was a big increase at the high school, and a little drop at the Cunniff,” Galdston said. “I don’t think it is something we should be alarmed about.”
Lowell Elementary School’s overall score was 75 percent. In 2019 the overall score was 81 percent, and got mostly fours with some threes and a zero for science achievement. It was given the status of “Meeting or exceeding targets.” (See the Lowell Elementary School results by clicking here).
On Oct. 21, School officials will give a more in depth presentation about the school-by-school MCAS results the next the School Committee meets. The meeting will be held at Lowell Elementary School, 175 Orchard St., on Oct. 21.