Somerville Public Schools In Top 15% of Massachusetts School Districts For Combined ELA and Math Growth

District maintains upward trajectory on 2014 MCAS as state’s leading urban district in growth; West Somerville Neighborhood School advances to Level 1 state accountability designation

Somerville, MA – Somerville Public Schools maintained its phenomenal upward trajectory as the leading urban district in the state for student growth, breaking into the top 15% of all Massachusetts districts in combined growth in English-Language Arts (ELA) and Math, according to Spring 2014 MCAS results released today by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Somerville’s continuing improvement in student growth was coupled with more students scoring higher on English-Language Arts, Math and Science MCAS tests, and those results have catapulted nearly every school in the District to either the highest or second highest levels on the state’s accountability scale, showing that Somerville is making significant progress in addressing the needs of students at every level.

Somerville firmly positioned itself among the top 15% of Massachusetts school districts in Student Growth Percentile (SGP) with District-wide SGPs of 59 and 60 in English-Language Arts and Math, respectively. Somerville, the only urban district to rank among the Commonwealth’s top 15% in growth, far surpassed every other urban district in the Commonwealth with a combined SGP of 119 and a ranking of 58. The next closest urban district had a ranking of 117.

As measured by SGP, which offers a clear measure of a school’s ability to accelerate learning for students at every proficiency level by comparing them to their “academic peers” from across the state, Somerville moved up to an 85th percentile rank in the state, meaning Somerville students performed as well as or better than students in 334 (of 392) districts. Once again, Somerville showed improvement by every measure–Student Growth Percentile, School Accountability ratings, Composite Performance index (CPI), and percentage of students scoring Proficient and Advanced.

“Our focus has been on long-term, consistent progress in meeting the educational needs of our students,” stated Superintendent of Schools, Tony Pierantozzi. “We made phenomenal gains last year, and improved on that rate of progress this year. More importantly, the latest MCAS results indicate we’re meeting the needs of students at every level of proficiency. Every school made progress, and for the first time since the state’s current 5-level accountability ranking system has been in place, we have three of our schools ranked as Level 1 schools, and four ranked Level 2, the top two ratings. We will continue to address those areas where we identify gaps, keeping in mind the need to continue implementing strategies and systems that will result in long-term success for our students.”

“Student Growth Percentile is a better measure for the work that schools actually do with students, increasing their funds of knowledge and depth of understanding. This kind of growth reflects phenomenal education happening in Somerville,” added School Committee Chair, Christine Rafal.

Somerville High School continued to show outstanding SGP improvement that included a jump in the median ELA SGP from 68 to 75, and a rise in the median Math SGP from 55 to 65. From 2012 to 2014, 70% of SHS students grew more than their academic peers in ELA, while 64% of SHS students grew more than their academic peers in Math. Meanwhile, Somerville High’s drop-out rate continues to fall, to a 5-year low of 2.5 in 2013. The high school maintained its Level 1 accountability designation after making a 2-level leap last year to the highest ranking on the state’s five-level Accountability scale.

The West Somerville Neighborhood School moved up to a Level 1 rating from Level 2 last year, while the Winter Hill Community Innovation School moved up to a Level 2 rating from Level 3. The John F. Kennedy School maintained its Level 1 status.

“The 2014 MCAS results reflect two important aspects of our schools. The first is the focus and dedication of our teachers, whose impact on our students is the continuing story of Somerville’s ongoing improvements,” said Assistant Superintendent Dr. Vince McKay. “Secondly, the results show that Somerville’s long-term school improvement strategy, a strategy that avoids test-prep but stresses critical thinking skills, focused support and the needs of the whole child, is working.”

Somerville’s student growth was combined with District-wide improvement in the number of students progressing toward proficiency, with a greater percentage of students scoring higher on MCAS exams:

• The number of students District-wide scoring Advanced in ELA and Math improved to 15% from 13% and 22% from 19%, respectively.
• In Science, 16% of Somerville students scored in the Advanced range, an improvement of 4 percentage points over 2013 and just one percentage point shy of the state average.
• 29% of Grade 10 students scored Advanced on the Science test.
• Since 2011, the percentage of students scoring Advanced has increased from 8% to 15% in ELA, 14% to 22% in Math, and 7% to 16% in Science.
• Students have shown phenomenal progress in Science. Since 2011, the percentage of students scoring Proficient or Advanced has increased from 37% to 49%.

“This year’s MCAS results solidify Somerville Public Schools’ standing as one of the best urban school districts in the state, educating every student regardless of where they start academically,” said Mayor Joseph A. Curtatone. “Studies show that the strongest predictor of student test scores is socioeconomic status. Somerville’s student growth scores show that our schools educate our students just as well as communities with students that predominantly come from higher income households, while the increase in students scoring proficient or advanced show that Somerville Schools are not only lifting up students—we’re helping them excel.”

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