Marlborough schools deal with lower MCAS scores, absenteeism

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Marlborough schools deal with lower MCAS scores, absenteeism
Jaworek stands on Hosmer Street.

MARLBOROUGH – While the COVID-19 pandemic has abated, its aftereffects continue to be felt.

For Marlborough Public Schools, as in school systems across the state, extensive absences caused by the pandemic have led to lower MCAS scores.

During the School Committee meeting on Nov. 22, R.J. Skaza, assistant superintendent of teaching and learning, presented the results of the 2022 MCAS – the first time students in grades 3-8 had been tested since 2019.

Statewide, math MCAS scores rose, while English language arts scores declined, as did writing scores.

For Marlborough, students scored 30.1% proficient in ELA on the MCAS – 4% lower than the previous year, and 11% below the state average.

“There’s certainly a lot of work to be done there,” said Skaza. “It’s something we cannot ignore.”

He said MPS will implement a series of programs to help bolster literary and writing skills. As part of their efforts, there will be dedicated writing blocks in kindergarten through fifth grade along with introducing an English learner model where first to fifth grade are pushing-in to classrooms for writing blocks.

Additionally, Marlborough will be introducing the Reading Ways Program, which staff said gets all disciplines involved in reading and writing, and using NoRedink and Quill in conjunction with the pilot programs.

For secondary school students, the schools are planning “acceleration academies” in December, and possibly in February and April, to help students wishing to retake the MCAS.

Skaza reported some good news from the latest round of MCAS – higher math scores for grades 3-5 overall; higher math scores for grade 3 at Jaworek Elementary School; higher ELA scores for grade 4 at Kane Elementary School and Marlborough High School.

Absenteeism

Over the past two school years, a lot of students lost a lot of instructional time.

According to the state’s Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, the average student missed 11 days in 2021 and 15 days in 2022.

For Marlborough Public Schools, missed instructional time becomes even more apparent.

For the 2021-22 school year:

  • Whitcomb: 246 students with 18+ days absent out of 1,162 enrolled (21.2%) 
  • Jaworek: 119 students with 18+ days absent out of 674 enrolled (17.7%) 
  • Kane: 106 students with 18+ days absent out of 513 enrolled (20.7%)
  • Richer: 143 students with 18+ days absent out of 553 enrolled (25.9%)
  • 21-22 Goodnow: 179 students with 18+ days absent out of 753 enrolled (23.8%)
  • 21-22 MHS: 351 students with 18+ days absent out of 1,091 enrolled (32.2%) 

“The numbers are very alarming,” said School Committee member Heidi Matthews. 

She added that not having remote learning options available “kills me.”

MPS Superintendent Mary Murphy said COVID hit the state hard in January and February, leading to much of the increase in absenteeism among students and staff.

Skaza said the schools are reaching out to students with 15 or more days absent to work out plans to make up for lost instruction.

Correction: An earlier version of this article misspelled R.J. Skaza name. The Community Advocate regrets the error. 

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