The Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment Exam results are out and although arlington did better than the rest of the state, fewer students are getting high scores. School officials say not to worry though because the nearly 20 year-old exam is more challenging now.
The state and Arlington administered what’s known as the next generation MCAS for the first time last spring for grades 3 through 8. Tenth graders who need to pass the exam in order to graduate received the legacy MCAS.
Assistant Superintendent Roderick MacNeal told the school committee at its October 26th meeting that the test is meant to measure critical thinking skills and that work is already underway to teach to the higher standards set by the state’s curriculum frameworks.
Speaking to Arlington Public News before the school committee meeting, member Cindy Starks said she’s glad the test is being updated. That as a teacher, measuring students abilities and skills is more valuable than simply testing knowledge. Another major difference with the new MCAS is that it is computer based as opposed to paper based with a complete phase-in of taking it online by 2019. Link to Arlington DOE MCAS Report
The school committee also concluded their review of teaching assistants for kindergartners. Parents pushed the school committee to look at making part time teaching assistants full day. The majority of kindergarten classrooms have grown to more than 20 students with several at or nearing twenty-six.
Committee members spoke in support of looking at setting guidelines for next year noting that the curriculum for kindergartners has become more challenging. When it comes to making teaching assistants full time for this year, Superintendent Kathleen Bodie said they are looking at it on a case by case basis.
The school committee also looked at how buffer zones for the town’s seven elementary schools are doing in keeping schools and classes balanced. Superintendent Bodie concluded the zones are not working as well as years past and they may need updating in the next couple of years. For a full discussion of these stories you can view the school committee meeting on our government channel and on www.acmi.tv. For a look at reports to the school committee on these topics you may click the agenda here.