Episode 17: Accounting for Accountability
Each spring, our students take a set of standardized tests, the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System, or MCAS. Along with individual student scores, schools districts and schools are labeled according to the students’ scores on these tests. Recently, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education released a new “accountability” system rating schools and districts based on the newest iteration of the MCAS tests, MCAS 2.0.
While the accountability system and classification of schools have new labels, the end result is often the same. The new system, however, includes some new criteria; some of these new measures seem to target challenging student populations and in this podcast episode, Mickie talks about some concerns educational professionals have about these new measures.
For clarification the new classifications are:
School of Recognition - the highest rating for schools.
Meeting Targets - a criterion-referenced target percentage of 75% or higher and not otherwise identified as having a low overall performance, low subgroup performances, low graduation rate or low participation rates.
Partially Meeting Targets - a criterion-referenced target percentage below 75%, and not identified as low overall performance, low subgroup performance, low graduation rate or low participation rate.
Focused/targeted Support - a school in the lowest 10% (statewide) as measured by accountability percentile; one or more subgroups with a subgroup percentile of 5 of below, low graduation rate (below 66.7%), and/or has low participation rate (less than 95%) for either all students or one or more subgroups in one or more of the subjects (ELA, Math, Science and eventually Social Studies).
Broad/comprehensive Support - a school or a district with a designation of “underperforming” or “chronically underperforming” from Commissioner of Elementary & Secondary Education.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
DESE accountability webpage contains voluminous sections detailing the new (2018) accountability system.
To view DESE’s suggested format for parent reporting of individual MCAS 2.0 results, link here.
The Lowell Public Schools Profile Page is found here. Switch from District view to individual schools to view how DESE rates our school system.
For our guide to test acronyms, see this document.
Thanks to Mickie for clarifying what is always a complicated and often confusing system for looking at our schools, our districts, and our students. Whether you are an educator, a parent, or concerned community member, we encourage listeners to comment on this website about how the new accountability system impacts you.
As always, we thank you for listening to this week's podcast. We welcome your comments and feedback. If you have suggestions for future podcasts, send us an email at UTLStraightTalk@gmail.com. And if you enjoy our podcasts, be sure to spread the word - or share with a friend (or two).