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In full transparency, the following is a press release from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE).


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MALDEN – The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) released 2022 Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) results today, providing the state with its second overview of statewide learning since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Results on the spring 2022 MCAS tests were mixed, with math and science scores improving since 2021, and English language arts (ELA) scores declining. Overall results when compared to pre-pandemic levels show continued need for improvement.

“These results show that it may take a few years for students to recover academically from the COVID-19 pandemic. Many students need more time learning, whether it is in the form of tutoring, acceleration academies, early literacy, after school programs or summer learning,” said Education Secretary James Peyser. “We have committed approximately $130 million in federal and state funds to these efforts. We know school districts are using these funds to increase instructional time and implement other proven strategies for improving student outcomes.”

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Since spring 2020, students have lost in-person class time both when their school buildings were closed at the start of the pandemic and, later, if they themselves had COVID-19. The Department introduced the test-and-stay program in August 2021 to keep kids in school after they were exposed to COVID-19. More than 90 percent of schools participated in the test-and-stay program at some point during the 2021-22 school year, which saved more than 1 million days of school.

The Department will continue to use federal Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds to help districts address the effects of the pandemic, and districts can also use their own ESSER funds to do so.

In May 2021, DESE released the Acceleration Roadmap, which maps out student support and academic priorities and can be helpful in planning ESSER-funded efforts.

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The Department has also helped schools carve out additional time for instruction. Acceleration Academies – voluntary intensive programs held during vacation weeks – existed before the pandemic but have grown to include summer sessions, too. The Department has committed approximately $1 million in state funds and $16 million from the state’s share of federal ESSER funds for Acceleration Academies during the current school year and into next summer.

Other grants and supports include those through the Mass Literacy and Growing Literacy Equity across Massachusetts (GLEAM) initiatives, which are designed to encourage and spread the use of evidence-based strategies for literacy instruction. The Governor also dedicated $13.7 million for early literacy tutoring, screening, and evaluation supports from the federal Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) funds.

“We know that with time and the right supports, our students can achieve and exceed their previous successes,” said Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education Jeffrey C. Riley. “We also continue to work with teachers and districts to improve early literacy instruction and, through deeper learning initiatives, make Massachusetts schools more relevant, engaging and creative places to be a student or teacher.”

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Also today, DESE released 2022 accountability information, the first since 2019. However, under federal flexibility granted for one year, DESE will report less accountability data than usual. This year’s information includes data on accountability indicators (download) such as graduation and chronic absenteeism rates, and it also includes school percentiles. It does not include determinations of each district and school’s need for assistance or intervention, nor does it include targets for districts or measures of their progress toward those targets. All schools previously identified by the Commissioner as Underperforming or Chronically Underperforming have maintained that status as part of today’s release, and each school’s status will be evaluated by the Commissioner in the coming weeks. Additionally, the Commissioner will not be designating any new schools as Underperforming or Chronically Underperforming.

Detailed MCAS results:

Math: Compared to 2021, the percentage of students scoring Meeting or Exceeding Expectations in math started to recover and increased by 6 percentage points in grades 3-8. The percentage of students who scored Meeting or Exceeding Expectations in Grade 10 declined by two percentage points, but this was a smaller decline than the previous year.

Grade2021 %M/E2022 %M/EChange M/E 21-22
3-833%39%+6 percentage pts.
1052%50%-2 percentage pts.

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Science: Science scores indicated a small recovery in 2022. This spring was the first administration of the next-generation high school biology and introductory physics tests, and the results are not comparable to prior years (math and ELA transitioned to the next-generation assessments several years ago).

Grade2021 %M/E2022 %M/EChange M/E 21-22
542%43%+1 percentage pt.
841%42%+1 percentage pt.
High School 47% 

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English language arts: ELA scores declined in 2022 as compared to 2021. In particular, writing scores were lower than last year in grades 3-8. In addition, grades 3-5 showed sharper declines than grades 6-8, indicating challenges in early literacy. 

Grade2021 %M/E2022 %M/EChange M/E 21-22
3-846%41%-5 percentage pts.
1064%58%-6 percentage pts.

A note about recent MCAS test administrations: When considering this year’s test results and how to compare them to previous years, it is helpful to remember that, due to the pandemic, there were variations in how MCAS was administered over the last few years:

  • 2019: Full tests in grades 3-8 and high school
  • 2020: No MCAS tests administered
  • 2021: Half tests in grades 3-8, full tests in high school
  • 2022: Full tests in grades 3-8 and high school

By editor

Susan Petroni is the former editor for SOURCE. She is the founder of the former news site, which as of May 1, 2023, is now a self-publishing community bulletin board. The website no longer has a journalist but a webmaster.