State Releases 2018 Assessment and Accountability Results


MALDEN — The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education today released 2018 MCAS and school and district accountability and assistance levels. The release is the second year of next-generation MCAS results for grades 3-8 and the debut of the state’s new accountability system, which is designed to measure how a school or district is doing and what kind of support it may need. The new accountability system is more comprehensive than the previous system and complies with the 2015 federal Every Student Succeeds Act.

MCAS Results

Next-generation MCAS scores fall into four categories: Exceeding Expectations, Meeting Expectations, Partially Meeting Expectations and Not Meeting Expectations.

The state results of the 2018 next-generation MCAS in grades 3-8 English language arts and math were similar to those from 2017 in that approximately 50 percent of the students who took the test scored Meeting Expectations or above. The achievement categories were established in 2017 by a comprehensive group of Massachusetts educators in collaboration with DESE and are designed to reflect what students need to know to be successful in the next grade.

In grades 3-8 English language arts, approximately half of all students scored Meeting Expectations or above, with the exception of grade 7, where statewide results showed only 46 percent of students at Meeting Expectations or above. The percentage of students who scored Meeting Expectations or above in English language arts increased, however, in four of the six grades.

In math, three grades (4, 6 and 7) showed slight declines in the percentage of students scoring Meeting Expectations or above, one remained flat (grade 5), and two showed slight increases (grades 3 and 8). Middle grades math continues to be a focus for DESE, and the agency is grateful to the educators who are working with the department in that area.

“This year’s MCAS results reflect continued hard work by teachers, students and families, and we recognize that more work remains to be done,” Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeffrey C. Riley said. “We will continue to support schools and districts as they work to improve student achievement on MCAS and overall.”

“The changes in this year’s MCAS results for grades 3 through 8 varied by grade level when compared to 2017,” Education Secretary James Peyser said. “This is still a new assessment, based on recently revised curriculum frameworks, and as such, it will take time for the results to stabilize into a reliable baseline against which real improvement can be measured.”

In 2018, high school students took the legacy MCAS tests. Compared to 2017, the percentage of students statewide who scored Proficient or higher dipped 1 percentage point each in English language arts (91 to 90 percent), math (79 to 78 percent) and science and technology/engineering (74 to 73 percent). The next-generation tests will be introduced at the high school level in English language arts and math in spring 2019, but the minimum passing level will not change until at least the class of 2023. Parents of students who were in grade 10 in spring 2018 should receive their child’s scores from their school district in the coming weeks.

Parents of students in grades 3-8 should also receive their child’s scores from their school district in the coming weeks. When reviewing students’ scores, students, parents and educators should keep in mind that:

  • In general, the standards for Meeting Expectations are more rigorous than the standards for reaching the Proficient level on the legacy MCAS.
  • Next-generation MCAS scores should not be compared to legacy MCAS scores.
  • The approximately 50 percent of grades 3-8 students who scored in the Meeting or Exceeding Expectations categories is not the result of a grading curve; it is where the scores fell according to the standards that educators established. The educators who set the scoring standards in 2017 valued both readiness for the next grade level and consistent expectations across grades.

Assessment results will be posted at and For more information on the next-generation MCAS, visit

Accountability and Assistance Levels

The new accountability system is designed to measure how a school or district is doing and what kind of support it may need, is more comprehensive than the previous system and complies with the 2015 federal Every Student Succeeds Act. Given that this is the first year under a new accountability system, Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeffrey C. Riley is not designating any new schools as underperforming this year.

“I will continue to do a thoughtful review of the accountability results statewide and monitor how well the new system is providing useful information to districts, schools, parents, and the public about how well a school or district is serving its students and where it might need help,” Commissioner Riley said.

“The new accountability system is a complex measure of how schools and districts are improving, and I am glad that the commissioner and DESE are taking a year to analyze this new system before making any new designations of underperformance,” said Thomas Scott, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of School Superintendents.

Under the new accountability system, the Commissioner commended 52 schools of recognition for high achievement, high growth, or significantly exceeding their targets. The schools are from across the Commonwealth and include urban, suburban and rural schools.

“I’m happy to recognize the work of the teachers, students, staff, and families at these schools,” Commissioner Riley said.

Commissioner Riley also announced today that four schools that were designated underperforming under the old accountability system will exit that status. That change will place the three schools in the Partially Meeting Expectations category of the new accountability system. The four schools exiting underperforming status are Chestnut Accelerated Middle School and Milton Bradley Elementary School in Springfield, Elm Park Community School in Worcester and John Winthrop Elementary School in Boston.


With the data being run through a new accountability system, there are no new schools designated underperforming this year. Schools that have not exited underperforming status will be placed in the Focused/Targeted Support category under the new accountability system and will continue to receive targeted assistance from DESE.

The new accountability system designated the vast majority of schools and districts as not requiring assistance or intervention (they fell in the Meeting Targets or Partially Meeting Targets categories), while other schools and districts were designated as in need of Focused/Targeted Support or Broad/Comprehensive Support. The accountability system considers:

  • Student achievement,
  • Student growth,
  • High school completion,
  • English proficiency,
  • Chronic absenteeism, and
  • Advanced coursework.

Accountability data will be included in school and district profiles ( and at

The accountability results released today will be among the information included on redesigned school and district report cards that will be available in December. In response to feedback from parents, educators and other stakeholders, those report cards will also include student discipline rates, students’ access to the arts, educator qualifications, students’ course passing rates, and per-pupil spending.


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