Haverhill MCAS Results Better Than They First Appear; State Changes Ranking Methods

Bonnie Antkowiak, chief of Teaching, Learning and Leading. (WHAV News file photograph.)

Tilton Principal Bonnie Antkowiak told haverhill School Committee members her school has risen 20 points since 2015. (WHAV News photograph.)

Chief Academic Officer Darshan Thakkar. (WHAV News photograph.)

Student test score improvements at Haverhill High and Tilton Schools are better than they first appear, educators told the Haverhill School Committee Thursday night.

That’s because the state has moved on to new federal MCAS standards. If the older standards still applied, Haverhill’s results would have been even better, explained Chief Academic Officer Darshan Thakkar. Superintendent Margaret Marotta summarized the results.

“On the whole as a district, out scores were strong enough that we are not considered to need assistance or monitoring from the Department of Education so that’s a real positive,” she said.

In the area of special education, however, Marotta said that program still requires intervention.

Tilton Principal Bonnie Antkowiak told committee members Tilton’s 2015 found the elementary school meeting only 1 out of six targets—or 1 percentile rank, improving in 2016 by meeting half the targets, to 2017, where it met all of the targets. “This year the scores came out and we were at the percentile rank of 21. So, since 2015, we raised 20 points in our percentile rank,” she said.

Mayor James J. Fiorentini looked at the results from a competitive point of view.

“Not only did you do well, but you leapfrogged over schools throughout the state that were trying just as hard as you were, and doing everything they could and you went above them,” the mayor said.

Former Haverhill High Principal Beth Kitsos, now a chief academic officer, said the school was once among the lowest performing 20 percent of schools with a low graduation rate compared to other high schools in the state. Haverhill High now meeting or exceeding most targets. While improving, it still falls short meeting the needs of students with disabilities.

The mayor credited former Superintendent James F. Scully, in part, for the success, noting the scores are from Scully’s last year.