Haverhill Student MCAS Scores Echo Post-Pandemic State Results, Losing Ground in English

John C. Tilton School celebrated MCAS test scores during a ceremony in 2019. (Courtesy photograph.)

Haverhill school officials aren’t relishing the latest MCAS scores, but appear to largely agree with the state that much was lost during the pandemic and, as uttered by the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, “show continued need for improvement.”

State education officials Thursday released 2022 Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System results, providing the second overview of statewide learning since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Haverhill improved overall in math and science, but like many communities across the state, lost ground in English language arts in the category of “meeting or exceeding expectations.”

Haverhill School Committee member Richard J. Rosa. (Courtesy photograph.)

“The latest MCAS results demonstrate that Haverhill students and students statewide are struggling to recover from pandemic learning loss. Given the interruptions in learning over nearly three years, it’s so important that students attend school every day unless they’re sick. It’s also why I will continue to fight for every penny of the Student Opportunity Act received from the state to be used to support students and close the achievement gap,” said Haverhill School Committee member Richard J. Rosa.

According to state figures, roughly a quarter of Haverhill students met or exceeded expectations in English compared with almost a third last year.

In an email to parents, Haverhill school Superintendent Margaret Marotta wrote, “Not surprisingly, our scores and those across the state have dropped after three years of interrupted schooling. Massachusetts Department of Education has stated that statewide trends include significantly depressed scores in districts with high numbers of low-income students and those with high numbers of multi-language learners. Haverhill, as a Gateway City, falls into both of these groups.”

The superintendent added, “student absenteeism remains a challenge across Massachusetts. Each of these statewide challenges exists in Haverhill and is magnified by the needs of our community.” She said parents can expect their student’s Spring 2022 Individual Parent/Guardian Report within the next two weeks.

Education Secretary James Peyser said the state has committed approximately $130 million in federal and state money to increase instructional time and implement other strategies for improving student outcomes.

“These results show that it may take a few years for students to recover academically from the COVID-19 pandemic. Many students need more time learning, whether it is in the form of tutoring, acceleration academies, early literacy, after school programs or summer learning,” he said.

Since spring 2020, students statewide lost in-person class time both when their school buildings were closed at the start of the pandemic and, later, if they themselves had COVID-19. The state introduced the test-and-stay program in August 2021 to keep kids in school after they were exposed to COVID-19. More than 90% of schools participated in the test-and-stay program at some point during the 2021-22 school year, which saved more than a million days of school.

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