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Merrimack Valley

September 22, 2013

Methuen credits prep program for 10th grade MCAS gains

METHUEN — MCAS scores in the city’s schools improved in most categories last year, including large gains in passing the crucial 10th grade test required for graduation.

The percentage of Methuen students passing in English and math jumped by double digits compared with last year, and those passing the science and engineering portion improved by 8 percent, according to data the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education released Friday.

“We are very happy to see increases in the our 10th grade MCAS performance in ELA, Math and Science,” said Superintendent Judith Scannell.

Compared with last year, the percentage of Methuen high sophomores passing the math portion of the MCAS this past spring, which is a score in the proficient or advanced categories, jumped by 14 points, from 59 to 73 percent, according to the data. The percentage passing the English portion rose 10 points, from 79 to 89 percent, and the percentage passing the new science and engineering portion rose 8 points, from 59 to 67 percent, according to data released on the state education department’s website.

Brandi Kwong, assistant superintendent of curriculum, instruction and assessment, said the state database she has access to shows 74 percent of students passing the math section and 68 percent passing the science section. A different page on the state’s website also shows those slightly higher proportions.

Scannell credited a new MCAS prep program at the high school for the improvement. “Associate Principal Rich Barden worked tirelessly putting together an after-school MCAS prep program for our high school students that sometimes spilled over into Saturday mornings,” she said. “This was highly successful as you can see by the growth in our high school scores.”

Students are required to score at least in the proficient category in each section in 10th grade in order to graduate from high school. Those who do not make it can retake portions of the test to improve their scores.

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