MCAS 2014: Belchertown Students Beat the Odds
Belchertown students are more likely than other Massachusetts students to be proficient in Math, Science, and English, according to the most recent results of the MCAS exam. This is only the second time since 2009 that they have beaten the state average in all three disciplines.
Their achievement is particularly impressive given the district’s level of funding – 92% of districts spend more per student than Belchertown, yet Belchertown students outperform their peers on these key measures of achievement.
But achievement is not enough: most of the district’s schools are now flagged as being at Accountability Level 2, a sign that they have not raised scores quickly enough to meet goals set by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Should any school fall to Level 3, state authorities will become “highly engaged” in the management of the town’s schools.
“Students and teachers should be proud of this achievement,” said Interim Superintendent Dr. Robert Gazda. “It is remarkable that they have managed another year of impressive results at a time when schools are under great fiscal strain.”
Recent cuts to extracurricular programs have been unable to offset higher expenses. Despite the cancellation of freshman sports at Belchertown High School, and the transition to fee-based afterschool activities at Jabish Brook Middle School, the district has still needed to reduce its faculty.
Yet despite these challenges, Belchertown Public Schools managed to excel in several distinct areas. In science, only 55% of Massachusetts students were judged to be proficient, but this number was far higher in Belchertown, where 66% of students are proficient. And in English, the 8th graders showed more academic growth in the past year than at any other public school district in the state.
“Our excellent performance in some areas proves that Belchertown students have amazing potential,” said Dr. Gazda. “Going forward, it is our job to equip them with the tools and teachers they need to realize that potential, while working within the constraints of a budget that is falling further and further behind those of other districts.”