SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

September 21, 2013

Salem 2013 MCAS scores 'flat'

Changes may be coming at Level 4 Bentley

SALEM — There were mixed results on the 2013 MCAS exam for the Salem public schools, the only area school system designated Level 4 by the state for consistently low scores on the high-stakes test.

“This year’s results show us that some of our turnaround efforts are starting to work although we still have a long way to go,” Superintendent Stephen Russell wrote in an email.

Salem was given Level 4 status by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education late in 2011 and given three years to show improvement. This is the second year of the turnaround effort.

Russell pointed to signs of progress at Salem High, where more 10th-graders scored proficient or above in the English, math and science/technology tests, to better math scores at the lower grades and to overall improvements at several elementary schools.

The Bates School, for example, raised its scores enough to become the city’s only Level 1 school, the state’s highest ranking. And Saltonstall School rose from Level 3 to Level 2.

The superintendent said it was encouraging to see that none of the district’s Level 3 schools slipped to Level 4.

Overall, however, Russell said the district’s performance was “flat.”

The biggest concern remains the Bentley School, which was given a Level 4 designation two years ago and has shown few signs of improvement on the statewide test despite making a number of changes and hiring new personnel with funds from an annual $500,000 turnaround grant.

“Despite all of the work we’ve been doing related to that school . . . we’re still not making the impact on improving student learning that we need to make,” the superintendent said. “In fact, it looks, from this data anyway, that we’re sliding back a bit, so this is of significant concern to me and it should be of concern to the community.”

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