Framingham High School based on its 2012 MCAS performance may have bene classified as Level 3 status by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, but that doesn’t appear to be a bad thing from the perspective of school administrators.
The state's education department is using a new system to evaluate schools across the Commonwealth and a greater degree of emphasis is placed on how successful a school district or individual school narrows achievement gaps among its students.
Editor's Note: Narrowing the achievement gap means that both high and low income students perform at about the same level or that students in special education programs and non-special education programs perform at the same levels or students where English is not their native language perform at about the same level as students for whom English is their first lanaguage. The State took into account that some students will always perform well, but is looking for districts to have all students perform well, regardless of what issues (or sub group like English Language Learners) the district may have.
Level 1 is the highest classification while Level 5 is the lowest.
Under the state’s classification system, an entire district receives the level classification of its lowest performing school. The overall district score was pegged at Level 3, because five schools fell into that level.
“The new performance and progress index offers us a significant opportunity to target specific areas of improvement,” said Framingham Public Schools Superintendent Stacy Scott. “Just because a school receives a Level 3 does not mean that the teachers are not great or that the students are not working hard.
“What this data tells us is that there is one sub group in the high school that is struggling and we are able to set up and do what it takes to address that,” said Scott. “There is a positive energy among our teachers and we just have to refine our efforts appropriately.”
Despite the level 3 classification, Framingham High’s 2012 MCAS scores were actually well above the state averages in English, math and science.
What brought Framingham High’s score down was attendance by one sub group of students in one area, according to a joint presentation by K-8 math coordinator Sarah Guernsey, K-8 Literacy Coordinator Brett Berkman and Director of Educational Operations Sonia Diaz.
The panel said they and the administration consider Framingham High’s Level 3 ranking was based on a technicality and the school system is having a “conversation” with the Massachusetts Elementary and Secondary Education Department about the classification.
Scott told Framingham Patch, the district is considering appealing the Level 3 classificaton for Framingham High School. He said the attendance issue may not be completely accurate.
The three person panel listed four actions that will be the next step in the process of reducing the performance and achievement gaps in Framingham’s schools:
- Principals complete improvement plans for their schools;
- Establish curriculum management teams;
- Analyze the data at the district and individual school levels;
- Align curricula to the new state standards.
“We are diving into the challenge we face,” said Scott. “We know our students can be excellent and we are moving in that direction.”