The percentage of students considered proficient on of the state's 10th grade English Language Arts test, the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS).
Students must pass the 10th grade MCAS math and English tests in order to graduate high school. Mastery of communication skills, including reading, writing, speaking and listening, is critical for success at college and in the workplace.
In 2022, 54% of 10th graders passed the state's language arts exam, down 6 points from 2021 and lower than the state 2022 passing rate of 58%. Passing rates were highest in Manchester (86%) and Masconomet (81%), and lowest in Lawrence (23%) and Lynn (33%).
In Essex County in 2022, proficiency was lower among Hispanic (35%), economically disadvantaged (37%), and African American (41%) students compared to those who are Asian (74%), not economically disadvantaged (69%), or white (65%). While proficiency increased among Asian and African American students from 2021 to 2022, proficiency decreased among economically disadvantaged students by 23 points.
Essex County's passing rate was below the 67% passing rate of Middlesex, MA.
Studies point to a variety of factors believed to contribute to disparities in test scores and other measures of student achievement. School systems in the United States are highly segregated, and students of color disproportionately attend schools with high proportions of low-income students who may not have benefited from early learning opportunities at the same rate as other students. Schools also have different levels of resources ranging from qualified/experienced teachers to advanced courses to facilities and technology, and schools with large Black and Latino populations often have lower levels. In addition, teachers across all school systems tend to be disproportionately white, and teaching practices and curriculum may not be culturally relevant to students of color.
As assessments vary among states, it is not possible to include comparable data for the nation or other areas in this indicator.
The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education did not administer Spring 2020 MCAS for the 2019-2020 school year due to the cancellation of state assessments and school closures related to COVID-19.
Data prior to 2017 is not comparable due to changes in the state test.
In 2019, next-generation MCAS tests were administered. These next-generation achievement levels differ from the legacy MCAS achievement levels and are reported using a different scale. The next-generation achievement levels are designed to provide an indication of whether a student is on track to succeed in the subject matter and whether extra academic assistance may be needed for the student. Results from the next-generation grade 10 ELA and math tests, which were first administered in 2019, are not comparable to results from prior years.