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|Craig Kelley for Cambridge City Council in 2015|
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. . . the percentage of CRLS 10th graders actually proficient under the MCAS decreased this past year . . .
Cambridge's MCAS Results are not Pass/Fail
As the Chronicle pointed out in its 6 October story, the percentage of Cambridge students actually passing the controversial high stakes MCAS exam has improved slightly over the past few years. The bigger picture, though, is that the percentage of CRLS 10th graders actually proficient under the MCAS decreased this past year. According to the Chronicle, a stunning 54% of CLRS' 10th Graders were not proficient in English/Language Arts while an even greater 58% of those students lacked proficiency in Math, up from 51% and 52% respectively for 2004. Results for the elementary schools were similarly distressing, with lack of proficiency ranging from 30% all the way to 95% depending on the school, grade and subject.
In school, as in life, you are rarely a success simply because you didn't fail. The MCAS, with its many shortcomings, is a basic proficiency test and we can't ignore its results simply because we don't like the MCAS concept.
Looking at our MCAS results, we need to ask, and answer: How did so many students get all the way to 10th Grade without their being academically proficient? What does the lack of proficiency in our elementary schools, up to 95% lacking proficiency, mean for future years? How do such large percentages of non-proficient students impact the educational experience of both proficient and non-proficient students?
Of course, the most important question, and the toughest one to answer, is: how do we get many more students into the proficient/advanced categories? We have the money and the talent in our school system to successfully educate many more of our children, but clearly the way we've done things in the past is not working.
I think successfully educating all of our students will require dramatic changes in Cambridge Public School system's staffing and budgeting priorities. It will require the understanding that simply not failing is not good enough. It will require patience on the part of those of us thinking about leaving the system.
Above all, though, it will require everyone to share the uncompromising insistence that our public school system must be, and can be, good enough for all students to succeed. If we as a City cannot commit to that, then it is we who have failed.