You can now read 5 articles in a month for free on BostonGlobe.com. Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.

Red Sox Live

0

0

Game starts at 7:10 PM

editorial

MCAS scores suggest that tool is working

Continue reading below

Amid the current consternation over union contracts and the state of American schools, it’s nice to see good news in the realm of public education. And in Massachusetts, the most recent MCAS scores should bring cheer to both educators and parents. Released this week, the test results show that 88 percent of Massachusetts high school sophomores are proficient in English, a figure that bodes well for graduation rates and future employment. Over the past five years, the percentage of proficiency scores has risen in math and science, as well. Also heartening is the fact that the achievement gap, between suburban white students and minority students, appears to be shrinking — and that minority students’ test scores are rising as they progress through school.

State officials attribute the gains to hard-fought education reform: Schools are now better able to identify the areas where students need the most help, they say, and to deploy resources more effectively. This was certainly the promise of the law. In some corners, MCAS is reviled as a one-size-fits-all benchmark that requires rote memorization and discourages creativity. But in an ideal world, an assessment test is just that: a way to measure challenges as well as progress, a tool that schools and teachers can use to find the kids who are falling behind, and help them succeed, instead.

The MCAS scores don’t paint a fully sunny picture of student progress. They show disturbing declines in third-grade math and fifth-grade English scores, and a stagnation in third-grade English proficiency. It’s especially troubling that 39 percent of Massachusetts third graders are not proficient readers, since studies show that early literacy is a predictor of future success. In public education, there is clearly much work to be done. But the gains Massachusetts has made thus far suggest that early struggles don’t have to be permanent ones.

Loading comments...
Subscriber Log In

We hope you've enjoyed your 5 free articles'

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Already a subscriber?
Your city. Your stories. Your Globe.
Yours FREE for two weeks.
Enjoy free unlimited access to Globe.com for the next two weeks.
Limited time only - No credit card required!
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.
Thanks & Welcome to Globe.com
You now have unlimited access for the next two weeks.
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.