Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System test results released yesterday show that Danvers 10th-graders chalked up huge gains in English, as 91 percent of them scored "proficient or higher" in exams administered in the spring.
It's a jump of 10 percentage points over last year. A mere 2 percent failed, according to results released yesterday by Gov. Deval Patrick and state education officials.
"To see the results at the high school level is very energizing for the work we are doing," Superintendent Lisa Dana said.
Most North Shore districts beat the state when it came to scoring proficient or higher, with Peabody and Salem the laggards.
In Salem, 16 percent of 10th-graders failed the math test, well above the state rate of 7 percent. For two years in a row, 55 percent of Salem 10th-graders scored proficient or higher in MCAS math.
Locally, the state commended three local high schools for their work to improve MCAS scores for low-income students or showing a high academic growth rate over the past two years.
Beverly High and North Shore Technical High in Middleton were commended for "narrowing proficiency gaps for high-needs students," while Salem Academy Charter School was singled out for high growth rates in scores in English and math.
A total of 127 schools were commended statewide.
"We are really proud," said Rachel Hunt, head of school for Salem Academy Charter School, which has 308 students and is in Shetland Park. She said the school has been focusing on English and math, noting the school scored 11 percentage points higher in math than the state, and 30 percentage points higher than Salem schools.
"None of the 10th-graders fell into 'failing' in English and math," Hunt said.
Beverly Assistant Superintendent Maryellen Duffy said the state commended Beverly High for making strides in math with low-income students. Schools that were commended by the state had to meet certain improvement targets for low-income students for the past two years in math.
"We have always met it in English/language arts," Duffy said.
The school also met its target in special education this year.
"We are really thrilled," Duffy said.
Duffy credited Principal Sean Gallagher and his staff, which has been looking at data and addressing the issue of the achievement gaps through instructional programs and professional development.
Beverly High has won a federal "small learning community" grant, almost $2 million over five years, with the goal of increasing student achievement and closing achievement gaps for low-income and special education students.
"We are seeing the results of the work we have done," Duffy said.
Earlier this month, statewide results showed 84 percent, 74 percent and 67 percent of 10th-graders across the commonwealth scored proficient or higher in English, math and science, respectively.
While the state also released MCAS scores for middle and elementary schools, the grade 10 tests in English, math and science are key because students must score above the "needs improvement" level to graduate.
In Danvers, 10th-graders slid four percentage points in math to 76 percent when it came to those scoring proficient or higher, but fewer failed, with 4 percent failing this year and 7 percent failing last year.
Danvers 10th-graders also took a leap forward in science and technology, which became a graduation requirement last year. This year, 83 percent of Danvers students scored proficient or higher, compared with 73 percent last year.
Though Peabody lagged state scores, the number of 10th-grade students scoring proficient or higher in English this year jumped five percentage points from 71 percent in 2010.
Ipswich sophomores showed significant gains in English, as 93 percent scored proficient or advanced, up from 88 percent last year. In math, 90 percent of Ipswich 10th-graders scored proficient or higher, up from 87 percent last year.
Marblehead students showed an improvement in English, as 96 percent of 10th-graders scored proficient and advanced, up from 93 percent last year. In math, while fewer Marblehead 10th-graders scored advanced, 66 percent this year and 77 percent last year, 91 percent of 10th-graders scored proficient or higher this year, up from 90 percent last year.
The area's vocational and technical schools also made significant gains on the MCAS over the past few years.
At North Shore Technical High, a regional, 16-community vocational and technical school commended by the state, 90 percent of 10th-graders scored proficient or higher in English, up from 70 percent in 2008. Last year, just 3 percent of North Shore Tech students scored advanced in English, but this year, 36 percent did so.
This year, 96 percent of 10th-graders at Essex Agricultural and Technical High in Danvers scored proficient or higher in English, up from 62 percent in 2008.
The Aggie Class of 2013 also showed large gains in math, with 81 percent scoring proficient or advanced, up from 54 percent in 2008. In science and technology, 89 percent of the Aggie 10th-graders scored proficient or higher in 2011, up from 79 percent last year.
Swampscott also beat state averages and showed improvement over last year, with 91 percent scoring proficient or higher in English, up from 88 percent last year.
Last year, 29 percent of students scored advanced in English, but this year 46 percent scored in the top advanced tier. Math scores declined from 61 percent advanced last year to 49 percent advanced this year.
Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @DanverSalemNews.