Monfredo: Helpful Information About the Worcester Public Schools

Saturday, July 28, 2018
John Monfredo, GoLocalWorcester MINDSETTERâ„¢

This issue I’d like our readers to be informed about data on the Worcester Public Schools.  Let’s start with student enrollment.  During the 2018 year, over 29,000 children resided in Worcester and close to 83% of these children were enrolled in the Worcester Public Schools.  In addition, 6.57% were in private or parochial schools and 7.3% were enrolled in charter schools. The rest were enrolled in out of district public schools or homeschooled.

The highest percentage of the students enrolled in the Worcester Public Schools are in the early grades.  Starting with 88% in the kindergarten and in the high schools, grade nine, 80.43%. The overall enrollment in 2018 was 25,291 and it is projected to be 25,449 for this coming year.

The highest enrollment of the 33 elementary schools is Quinsigamond School with 745 followed by Roosevelt with 645 students and Woodland Academy with 606 students.  The smallest numbers are at Wawecus with 150 students followed by Midland Street with 227 students.

On the secondary schools, Doherty High has 1478 students followed by Worcester Technical High School with 1408 students. On the Middle School level, Forest Grove leads the way with 999 students followed by Sullivan Middle with 985 students.

An examination of demographic data over time demonstrates that the profile of students attending the Worcester Public Schools has changed during the last decade.   A decade ago, only 17 % of students were classified as English Language Learners.  In 2017-18, 34% of students across the district are ELL students.    In addition, there are eight schools in the district where the majority of students are English Language Learners:  Belmont Community School (52%), Chandler Elementary (58%), Chandler Magnet School (71%), Clark Street School (58%), Elm Park (56%), Goddard School of Science and Technology ( 56%), Lincoln Street (55%), and Woodland Academy at (60%).

Let’s now turn to the data on student outcomes starting with the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment system know as (MCAS)… (State Testing). The Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) was designed to meet the requirements of the Education Reform Act of 1993.  In accordance with the law, state assessments in English Language Arts (ELA) and mathematics are administered to students in grades 3 through 9 and in high school.  Science and Technology/ Engineering tests are administered to students in grades 5 through 8 and in high school.

These assessments measure performance based on the Massachusetts Curriculum Framework learning standards.  Results are reported for individual students, schools, and districts according to four performance levels defined by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) and they are Advanced, Proficient, Needs Improvement, and Warning/Failing.

In 2017-18, the state revised the reporting of the Next Generation MCAS (Grades 3-8) and the new scoring categories inform families what students’ strengths are and where there is more work to be done.  The new categories are Exceeding Expectations, Meeting Expectations,  Partially Meeting Expectations, Partially Meeting Expectations, and Not Meeting Expectations.  The students in the Worcester Public Schools have continued to show improvement on the MCAS testing.

Moving on to Advanced Placement (AP) at the High School level… Advanced Placement is an established nationally recognized program offering students the opportunity to undertake more complex and challenging college-level coursework while still in high school.  All seven  High Schools in the Worcester Public Schools offer a variety of AP course options.  Thus, this is consistent with the district’s goal to have students successfully complete high school coursework that prepares them for both college and career.

Students who take an AP course are given a test at the end of the program and they receive a grade from 1 to 5. The qualifying score is 3 or above on the AP tests.  Looking at the data there has been a surge in the number of students taking the AP courses for in 2011, 885 took the test and in 2017 1422 were involved in AP coursework.

Another test given to our high school students is the SAT.  The SAT is a paper-based standardized college entrance test generally administered to 11th and 12th graders to help colleges and universities identify students who could succeed at their institutions.  The students are tested in critical reading, mathematics, and writing.  There has been a significant increase in the number of students taking the test in 2011, test takers were 953 and in 2017 there were 1782 testers.

A most important statistic is the graduation rate for in 2017 for the eighth consecutive year, the four-year graduation rate of high school students in the Worcester Public Schools increased for 83.3% graduated within four years.  The graduation rate has increased by 11.9% since 2010 from 71 to 83.3%.  Statewide the graduating rate is 88.3 %.  In addition, the drop-out rate in the Worcester Public Schools is 2.2% and statewide is 1.8%.

Other information of interest – Physical Education… All students in K to 8 must have physical education and in the high schools students are able to fulfill the requirement for PE in whole or in part through participation in traditional physical education courses or participate in on campus, team sports, or off campus PE options.

On a positive note about our schools, Superintendent Binienda stated in the annual Budget book for year 2019, “ Every day in the Worcester Public Schools there is great teaching and exceptional student learning taking place.  When I visit schools, I see high levels of engagement by our students with extraordinary work by our classroom teachers, specialists, paraprofessionals and support staff.  While we continuously strive to improve every day we see students that are excelling academically, athletically, and through our fine arts program.  From here, students can go anywhere.”

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