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Traditional fourth grade dip in MCAS math scores a challenge for new administration

December 11, 2011

Because of the shift in intensity of math curriculum from the third to fourth grade and, secondly, because the complexity of the exam questions also increases, incoming graders in Massachusetts face a major transition. The result has traditionally been a 20 percent decline in math scores. But that is the low point, and the scores go back in the fifth grade and beyond. The decline is understandable in a transitional year from elementary-type education to “upper” elementary, but Superintendent Maass isn’t letting that stop him. He has just brought on new Math Coordinator Tracy Crowe to review Marblehead’s math program and to study records, talking to teachers, and consulting focus groups. Even though Marblehead’s math MCAS scores are higher than the state average, she says, “I believe Marblehead students are capable of much higher scores.”  ((Lynn Item, 12/5/11, p. B5) Another measure of how well fourth graders do in math and other subjects is the NAEP tests (National Asssessment of Educational Progress). Massachusetts fourth graders are either first or second in this measuremet, nationwide. But  according to non-teaching administrators, it’s still not good enough.

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