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Braintree Beats State MCAS Average in All Grades, Categories

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary & Secondary Education released statewide 2012 MCAS scores on Wednesday.

Braintree students in all grades tested significantly better in English, math and science than the state MCAS averages this year, even as results released on Wednesday show that Massachusetts 10th graders performed at their highest level yet.

Statewide, 10th grade students hit the proficient or advanced levels 88 percent of the time in English and 78 percent in math. That compares to 38 percent and 24 percent in 1998 when MCAS was first administered.

"I am proud of the progress we have made, but won't be satisfied until we close the achievement gap and all students have the opportunity to reach their full potential," Gov. Deval Patrick said in a press release on Monday.

Locally, 96 percent of 10th graders at Braintree High School scored proficient or advanced in English and 94 percent in math. Braintree sophomores also did much better in science: 90 percent at those higher levels compared to 69 percent statewide.

Superintendent Dr. Peter Kurzberg said on Wednesday that the school department is "very pleased" with this year's results and noted that East Middle School was again identified as a Commendation School "for progress in narrowing the proficiency gap."

Braintree mainly saw improvements this year. Science in particular was an area for growth among students proficient or higher. At the 10th grade level, scores went from 86 percent to 90 percent in 2012, and from 54 to 60 in eigth grade, though they did drop six points in fifth grade.

"Our overall performance for the district continues to be very favorable and we continue to demonstrate a positive trend for improvement," Dr. Kurzberg said in an email. "We do see some normal variations that can occur from one year to the next, but our performance is still strong."

The School Committee will discuss the results during its Monday, Sept. 24 meeting.

Grades 3 through 8 and grade 10 are tested annually. Students must pass grade 10 English and science tests to receive a high school diploma. The Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System stems from a state law passed in 1993 and is aimed at testing at various levels all students in the Commonwealth and measuring and reporting their performance.

The exams are connected to the federal No Child Left Behind law that requires certain performance levels in each state. Earlier this year, Massachusetts was granted a waiver from the federal government concerning the requirement that virtually every student be proficient in math and reading by 2014.

Massachusetts adopted the Common Core Standards, a program designed to create national English and math standards, in July 2010. They are scheduled to be put in place during the 2012-2013 academic year. Upcoming English testing this year will be entirely Common Core, Dr. Kurzberg said, while math continues to transition.

To sift through the 2012 MCAS data, go to http://profiles.doe.mass.edu/state_report/mcas.aspx.

Correction: A paragraph was removed on drops in results in sixth and third grade math in Braintree. The numbers were reversed and the scores actually went up in 2012.

What do you think about MCAS testing? How about Braintree's performance?

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