The percentage of students considered proficient on one of the state's 8th grade math test, either the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) or the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC).
Math skills are critical to a variety of careers and important for life skills ranging from budgeting and smart shopping to understanding the news. The middle school math examination serves as a checkpoint for high school preparation; performance on this exam can help predict high school success in math.
In 2019, 45% of 8th graders were considered proficient in Essex County, a decline from 2018. Among districts, rates were highest in 2019 in Lynnfield (80%), River Valley Charter (75%) and Masconomet (71%), and lowest in Lynn (31%), Salem and Lawrence (both at 33%) and Danvers and Gloucester (both 34%).
In Essex County in 2019, proficiency was lower among economically disadvantaged students (26%), African American (28%) and Hispanic students (29%) compared to those who are not economically disadvantaged (56%) or white students (54%) or Asian students (64%). While slight losses occurred in most groups from 2018 to 2019, proficiency among Asian students decreased 8 points.
Middlesex, MA had a higher proficiency rate in 2019 at 59%. Disparities were similar in both counties.
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. Data from earlier years is not comparable due to changes in the state test.