Two Cambridge charter schools, three elementaries come out of MCAS shining
Two charter schools from Cambridge — Benjamin Banneker and the Community Charter School — made the state’s list of 187 “commendation schools” that have raised student MCAS standardized-test scores and narrowed gaps among groups of students taking it.
There were only 14 charter schools on the list, and the only city with more was Boston, with six (and a population more than six times that of Cambridge).
Statewide, student achievement improved on 11 of 17 tests taken across all participating grade levels, according to the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education’s Mitchell D. Chester, and the percentage of students statewide scoring proficient or higher ranged from 54 percent at grade four to 78 percent at grades eight and 10 in English language arts; 48 percent at grade four to 75 percent at grade 10 in math; and 40 percent at grade eight to 65 percent at the high school level in science and technology.
The Boston Globe points out the bad news in the year’s results:
The state also announced that 123 school districts, including 32 independently run public charter schools, failed to meet test score targets under No Child Left Behind, representing about a third of all districts statewide. Last year, 106 districts and charter schools were identified.
While Cambridge Rindge & Latin’s rankings among the roughly 350 high schools in the state (based in testing of 10th-graders) are indifferent — 257th out of 353 in English, 244th out of 351 in math and 256th out of 341 in science — there are some remarkable results from city elementary schools. (Click here to go to tables showing 2009 results from the Globe.)
The bilingual Amigos School’s eighth-graders are the standouts, ranking 146th out of 464 schools in math, 38th in English and an impressive seventh in science.
The third-graders at the Peabody School soared against their peers in English and math. Ranking 55th and 20th respectively out of 980 and 981 schools. In English, the grade dropped to 617th out of 967.
Sixth-graders stood out at the Graham and Parks School, ranking 64th out of 565, and the seventh-graders there ranked 71st out of 466 in math.
Every student at the tuition-free, college preparatory Community Charter School of Cambridge passed the 10th grade MCAS exams. Even more impressive, according to the Kendall Square school’s chief communications officer, Justin T. Martin, is that 92% of 10th-grade students scored proficient or advanced on the English language arts section, and 74% scored proficient or advanced on math.
The school, now in its sixth year, serves 330 students in seventh through 12th grades. Students apply to the school from throughout the commonwealth and are admitted by blind lottery. Cambridge residents have priority, but there are also students from surrounding communities, including Somerville, Arlington, Boston, Brighton, Brookline and Newton. Students from as far away as Belmont, Milton and Waltham are enrolled.
“Success on the MCAS exam is good,” said Paula Evans, head of the school. “But, for us, it is just a barometer along the way. We measure ourselves by how well prepared our students are for college and how well our graduates perform at the collegiate level.”
This post uses some information from a press release. It was updated Sept. 18 after a reader e-mail to identify Globe data as being from 2009.