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 2022, 34% of 8th graders were considered proficient in Essex County, an increase of 5 percentage points from 2021, and slightly lower than the state passing rate of 36%. Among districts, rates were highest in 2022 in Lynnfield (79%), Andover (66%) and Marblehead (64%), and lowest in Lynn (16%), and Salem and Lawrence (both at 19%).
In Essex County in 2022, proficiency was lower among Hispanic (18%), economically disadvantaged (19%), and African American (22%) students compared to those who are Asian (58%), not economically disadvantaged (48%), or white (43%). While gains occurred among most groups from 2021 to 2022, proficiency among economically disadvantaged students decreased 10 points.
Middlesex, MA had a higher proficiency rate in 2022 at 49%. 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.
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.