CPS Test Scores Indicate District Plan is Showing Results

CPS Test Scores Indicate District Plan is Showing Results
Posted on 10/01/2018

September 27, 2018

Media Contact: Rosalie Rippey, Communications Manager
Office: 617.645.2608, Cell: 857.331.4957 | rrippey@cpsd.us

CPS Test Scores Indicate District Plan is Showing Results

MCAS test scores released yesterday by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education show many reasons for optimism in Cambridge Public Schools. One year into a District Plan that aims to increase achievement and expectations for all students, test scores suggest that improvement efforts are making an impact.

Although state officials caution that school districts’ results may show variability over the next few years, due to the recent transition to a new version of MCAS, it is notable that CPS students demonstrated significant improvement in both mathematics and English Language Arts (ELA), in contrast to state averages, which saw average proficiency scores in math declining and more subtle improvements in ELA. In total, CPS students scored higher than the state average in every grade, in both ELA and Math.

ELA test results improved across nearly all grade levels in CPS. Among third graders, Cambridge students achieved a seven percentage point gain in ELA, from 54% meeting/exceeding expectations to 61% meeting/exceeding expectations. This jump positions Cambridge above the average for school districts in the state.

Efforts to close achievement gaps between student demographic groups also showed progress, with academic gains demonstrated across all groups. In third grade ELA, for example, the percentage of Hispanic/Latino students meeting or exceeding expectations more than doubled--from 23% to 49% in just one year.

Cambridge students also showed significant gains in mathematics. In 2017, 43% of CPS eighth graders met or exceeded expectations on the MCAS, whereas 53% met this standard in 2018--an increase of 10 percentage points. In fact, all demographic groups showed improvements over 2017, most notably African-American/Black students, for whom the percentage of students meeting or exceeding expectations tripled in 2018.

“Having witnessed the hard work of our educators, curriculum leaders, Principals, and most importantly our students, it is gratifying to see these academic gains,” said Superintendent of Schools Kenneth Salim. I continued, “I hope this data underlines for all of us that by focusing on issues of equity, all of our students can rise to meet more rigorous standards."

The state’s new accountability system emphasizes improvement and growth, directing increased resources to students and districts that score in the lowest 25% in terms of academic achievement. For 2018, the state is not providing evaluative scoring such as “Level 1,” “Level 2,” as was the case in past years, Instead, in 2018 the state only identified districts that require assistance or intervention--a designation that does not apply to CPS.

Since beginning his tenure as Cambridge's Superintendent in 2016, Salim has led the school district towards developing, and now implementing, a strategic plan. Adopted by the School Committee in 2017, the District Plan for Cambridge Public Schools outlines a vision of rigorous, joyful, and culturally responsive learning leading to post-secondary success and engaged community members. Emphasizing equity, engaging learning, personalized supports, family and community partnerships, and continuous improvement, the plan seeks to “provide all CPS students, in all student groups, with the academic knowledge and skills they need to achieve their goals.” A more detailed report on the MCAS data will be presented to the Cambridge School Committee on November 20, 2018.

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