Results from the Spring 2012 MCAS tests

On September 20, 2012, in Latest News, by The Somerville Times

Percentage of Students Scoring “Advanced” in ELA Highest in Four Years

Results from the Spring 2012 MCAS tests, released today by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, indicate that Somerville Public Schools students are showing progress, particularly in ELA, as measured by a district-wide improvement in Student Growth Percentile (SGP). SGP measures a student’s progress relative to the progress of other students with similar MCAS performance histories, their “academic peers” from across the state.


Somerville Public Schools showed a district-wide 4-point increase in Median SGP in English Language Arts, moving up from a Median SGP of 47.0 in 2011 to 51.0 in 2012. The District also narrowed the gap relative to the State Median SGP in Math with a 1.5-point increase.


The District’s Composite Performance Index (CPI) saw a 3% increase in the number of students scoring Advanced in ELA. 53% of students throughout the District ranked Proficient or higher in English Language Arts, with Somerville High School leading the charge with 76% scoring Proficient or Advanced in ELA. Other CPI indicators remained relatively steady.


Commenting on the results, Superintendent Tony Pierantozzi stated, “This is good news for the District, but we are not satisfied. We will continue to focus our efforts on continuing to make significant strides in our students’ performances – and we have smart strategies at work to make these improvements. The improvement in the district-wide Student Growth Percentile indicates that we are making strides as a District, and that students in our District as compared to their academic peers are making progress. When you look at the data, particularly at the ELA data, there’s evidence that initiatives like the Balanced Literacy framework that we’ve been implementing in the last several years, are having the desired outcome.”


Among the District’s performance highlights from the latest report are the following:

  • Somerville High School saw a 9% jump in the number of students scoring Advanced in ELA, and saw significant improvement in both ELA (40 to 54) and Math (46.5 to 53) Median SGPs. SHS also recorded a significant reduction in the dropout rate to a 5-year low of 3.1 in 2011, and a 1.3% increase from 2010 to 2011 in the 4-year Adjusted Cohort Graduation Rate to 86%.
  • The Brown School continues to rank in the top tier of schools in the state, at the 80th percentile of K-6 school in the Commonwealth. The School’s CPI jumped from 90.6 to 92.4 in ELA, and remained steady at 83 in Math. Brown showed an 8% increase in the number of students ranking Advanced in Math compared to last year, and a 17% increase in ELA.
  • East Somerville Community School experienced a 14-point increase in Median Math SGP (39 to 53) and a 10-point increase in Median ELA SGP (42 to 52).  ESCS also saw an increase of 3% in the number of students scoring Advanced, and those scoring Proficient in ELA.  The School’s designation improved from a Level 3 to a Level 2.
  • The John F. Kennedy School saw a 3.5-point increase in Composite Performance Index and an increase in Median ELA SGP from 51 to 59.


A number of strategic initiatives have been implemented District-wide in the last two years with an emphasis on strengthening student achievement while providing differentiated instruction that supports individual students’ needs, including:

  • Somerville Public Schools is in its third year of an intense Balanced Literacy framework designed to teach critical reading and writing skills using a comprehensive system of strategies to help students build upon their acquisition of skills. The increase in percentage of students scoring Advanced in ELA, and the trend in improved Median SGP in ELA indicate that this initiative is having the desired impact.
  • Introduction of a 40-minute Enrichment and Intervention Block (X-Block) in all Grades 1-8 classrooms where students who are at the lower end of the performance scale will receive additional instruction in areas where they may be struggling, while students who have reached proficiency can participate in enrichment programs to help them move to the next level.
  • Providing more opportunities for differentiation remains a focus in K-12. Introduction of a tiered system of support to provide strategically delivered services supports that goal, and aligns strategically with the new X-Block initiative.


“We’re committed to helping all our students develop the skills and knowledge to be successful academically, and to become active and contributing members of our society,” commented Superintendent Pierantozzi. “As a school District and as a community, we pride ourselves on our commitment to this vision, a vision which includes support for the Arts. Making sure every student is proficient in core subjects and continues to experience the full range of courses like Art and Music, is a critical part of this commitment and we’ll continue to work strategically toward that end.  We’ll also continue to evaluate all of the initiatives we put in place to support improved student achievement as we steadily work to achieve our stated goal of a 55% SGP across the District in all core content areas.”


“These and other strategies support our overall goal of providing students with a rigorous and comprehensive education that will prepare them for success in post-secondary education and beyond,” added Dr. Vince McKay, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment. “I’m pleased with the progress our students have made in ELA and in the District’s overall improvement in Student Growth Performance, and look forward to seeing a continuation of that trend.  There’s evidence that the Balanced Literacy work we’ve done in the last few years is having the desired impact, and I want to thank all of our teachers for their hard work in this effort.  The overall literacy skills of our students are improving and that’s exciting because improved reading will ultimately translate into improvement in other areas.  I’m eager to see the results of the new 40-minute Enrichment and Intervention Block (X-Block) as the year progresses because that’s another level of targeted support that I think will have a positive impact and will help students get to the next level.”


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