March is right around the corner, and for grades 3 through 5 here at Peirce, it means the start of MCAS season. Our students will partake in the ELA (English Language Arts) MCAS beginning March 20th.
Many of you will have questions about the test, such as “How do I talk to my child about it?” and “What does it mean?”. While there are no simple answers to either question, it does bring up a lot of discussion.
As for talking to your child about it, it may be best to ask your child’s teacher, and your child, what the discussion has been in the classroom. The students have been preparing for this since Kindergarten, they should not feel the test is something they have to start studying for now.
As for “What does it mean?”, the best I can offer is this; it is one way to measure your child’s learning, but it is certainly not the only way. Many children express their understanding in ways that can not be reflected in a standardized test.
A new piece to MCAS last year was the addition of SGP (Student Growth Percentile). Many of you have asked what this is, and I’ve found this description from the Department of Education:
“For K-12 education in Massachusetts, the phrase “growth model” describes a method of measuring individual student progress on statewide assessments (the MCAS) by tracking student scores from one year to the next. Each student with at least two consecutive years of MCAS scores will receive a student growth percentile, which measures how much the student changed relative to other students statewide with similar scores in previous years. Student growth percentiles range from 1 to 99, where higher numbers represent higher growth and lower numbers represent lower growth. This method works independently of MCAS performance levels. Therefore, all students, no matter the scores they earned on past MCAS tests, have an equal chance to demonstrate growth at any of the 99 percentiles on the next year’s test. Growth percentiles are calculated in ELA and mathematics for students in grades 4 through 8 and for grade 10.”
If you have further questions, you can visit the Massachusetts Department of Education’s website at www.doe.mass.edu/mcas.
Their website also contains previous MCAS questions if you want to take a look. I personally love to take a shot at the question of the day.
I hope you have found this information helpful, and again, don’t hesitate to ask your child’s teacher for any advice on how to get through it. We do great as a school, and I have confidence that we will do well again this year!