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Salem superintendent: "Nobody is satisfied" with spring MCAS results

Posted by Ryan Mooney  October 2, 2012 09:40 AM

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Salem Superintendent Dr. Stephen Russell was blunt in his summary to the School Committee on Monday night of the spring MCAS results that show Salem still falling short of state performance averages.

"Nobody is satisfied with these, I don't want to convey the opinion that we are," Russell said. "We've got our work cut out for us."

The data presented by Russell shows that all but one school in Salem performed worse than more than 70 percent of schools statewide. The Witchcraft Heights Elementary was in the 58th percentile in terms of overall scores. Results for the Saltonstall School have not been released yet due to data inconsistencies, according to Russell.

The worst performing schools on this past spring's standardized test were Bentley Elementary, with overall scores in the bottom 4 percent, and Carlton Elementary, which fell in the bottom 8 percent.

The city's only high school had scores in the bottom 11 percent.

"I'm not trying to be pessimistic in reporting out the fact that we're continuing to struggle, and our students are continuing to struggle making progress and being successful with this state exam on a collective basis," Russell said. "There are some bright spots, but there are also overall some very serious challenges that we continue to face."

The bright spots he refers to can be seen when comparing the most recent scores, to scores from the three years prior.

Russell used the state's Progress and Performance Index to demonstrate that five of the city's nine schools - as well as the district as a whole - improved performance over last year, and four of them made three-year improvements. That data can be found here.

The largest improvement since 2009 has come at Bentley. But the obvious improvement at Bentley should be taken in perspective as scores at Bentley were so low the past three years that the school was designated Level 4 and threatened with the type of state takeover seen in Lawrence Public Schools.

Even still, Russell is encouraged by what he sees as an end to the "downward slide" in standardized test scores that the district had been experiencing in recent years.

District-wide MCAS scores can be found here and statewide scores here. Detailed data breaking down Salem's scores compared to the last three years will be posted on the district's website in the coming days.

Russell said parents will be receiving letters outlining general MCAS performance, and that anyone interested in discussing performance in more detail as it relates to their child can contact their child's school and make an appointment to do so.

Ryan Mooney can be reached at globe.mooney@yahoo.com. Follow him on Twitter @mooney_ryan.

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