District meets or exceeds targets, but still looks for areas of improvement
The Hopkinton Public School district once again has received good marks on its Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) achievements, with the district receiving the designation of “Not requiring assistance or intervention.”
“This is great news,” said assistant superintendent Jen Parson, who presented the details of the 2019 MCAS results during the Oct. 3 School Committee meeting. “Our district is ‘meeting or exceeding targets.’ ”
Parson told the committee that the principals in each of the five school buildings are in the process of diving deep into the data, including student achievement, student growth, cut scores and scores by subject and across grade levels. Parson said that another area that is being closely reviewed is the lowest-performing students, a subgroup that affects a district’s overall accountability score.
“It really forces a high-performing district like ours to dig in and see the areas where we may not be meeting the target,” she said. “We are constantly looking for ways that we can ensure that content is addressed before the MCAS while making sure we are not ‘teaching to the test’ and singularly focused on the MCAS.”
Parson gave a brief overview of the highlights and areas in need of improvement for each school from a preliminary review of the data.
At Elmwood Elementary School, Parson said Grade 3 students earned all of the available points for achievements. English language learner (ELL) students also exceeded their achievement targets in English language arts (ELA) and math and met their target acquiring English proficiency. Finally, most of the subgroups exceeded their achievement targets in math after a new math curriculum was rolled out last year.
Some areas to consider, said Parson, are the students with disabilities subgroup that did not meet its target in ELA and math while the other subgroups met or exceeded their targets.
At Hopkins Elementary School, students also were awarded nearly all available points for achievement and growth overall. The “high needs” subgroup (ELL students, students with disabilities, and economically disadvantaged students) also demonstrated significant improvement and growth.
“The growth towards our targets rose by 7 percent at Hopkins, which is significant,” Parson said.
Things to think about at Hopkins, said Parson, are the economically disadvantaged students and students with disabilities — students on individualized educational plans (IEPs) — subgroups, who did not meet targets in ELA, and the students with disabilities subgroup, which did not meet targets in math.
The most significant improvement and growth was at the middle school, said Parson, who credited the administration team there with spending time evaluating last year’s MCAS data to find areas of growth opportunities.
“The overall progress towards our goals rose 11 percent last year, so they really did reap some rewards from that work,” she said.
The Hopkinton Middle School high needs subgroup also demonstrated “significant” improvement in achievement and growth in ELA this year, and the aggregate and every subgroup exceeded their achievement targets in both math and ELA.
Areas to consider, said Parson, is in the area of science, where both the aggregate and the subgroup “white students” did not meet the achievement target while three other subgroups did. Parson cautioned, however, that this was the first year that the new science standards went into effect for Grade 8, which meant that this was the first time these students have seen the new science MCAS.
Chronic absenteeism continues to be an area of concern for some subgroups at the middle school as well, said Parson.
“This is a category that is a real bone of contention for all districts,” said Parson, who explained that chronic absenteeism includes both excused and unexcused absences.
For Hopkinton High School, the school was ranked in the top 4 percent of high schools statewide (ranked 14 out of 298 high schools for math and ELA scores) for MCAS scores and earned nearly all available points for ELA and math achievement. In terms of subgroups, all exceeded achievement targets in ELA, and nearly all in math and science, said Parson. For Science, Hopkinton High is ranked in the top 5 percent statewide.
Most telling of all is that every Hopkinton High School student who has taken the MCAS (with the exception of one student in ELA and two in math) has earned a score necessary to earn a high school diploma.
“A lot of good things are happening instructionally here,” said Parson.
Parson said administrators will be looking at progress toward their growth targets at the high school and issues with chronic absenteeism.
“While our students are still really making high levels of achievements, some of those growth scores weren’t as high as we would have hoped,” she said.
After fielding questions from the committee, Parson concluded by talking about the next steps for the district, including drilling down into the individual data over the next few months.
“We want to celebrate he things we have done very well, but we also want to dig into and see where we need improvement,” she said.