SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

October 23, 2013

Officials: Danvers students are making strides

DANVERS — Students made some MCAS gains, especially in elementary math, even while falling short of ambitious improvement goals, the School Committee learned Monday night during a presentation of student achievement gleaned from standardized tests given last spring.

In the last school year, as part of the district’s strategic plan, the schools set a “success measure” of improving MCAS scores by 10 percent or more in English language arts, math and science in one year.

When asked if the goal was ambitious, Superintendent Lisa Dana said yesterday: “It is, but we did say we wanted to have higher expectations.”

The schools managed to increase English and math scores across the board by 3 percent from 2012 to 2013, according to a presentation given by K-12 curriculum director Mary Wermers.

The district saw a 7 percent jump in science scores in all grades during the same time period.

“I feel like we are making progress toward that goal,” Wermers said, even though the goal was “lofty.” One of the things that proved difficult was a change to what is called common core standards, Wermers said. These are new state standards with different content that needs to be worked into the curriculum.

Taking a closer look at the scores, administrators found a 10 percent jump in math scores in grades 3, 4 and 5.

“What we are most proud of is our 10 percent increase in elementary math,” Dana said yesterday.

Individual schools also set goals.

For example, Great Oak Elementary School set a goal of a 10 percent increase in English and a 7 percent decrease in the achievement gap between regular education students and those with disabilities. The school met its MCAS goal, with a 15 percent increase, but the achievement gap increased, instead of decreasing. Wermers said that was due to the fact that the number of students with disabilities is a small group and their scores tend to vary.

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