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Assessment/Accountability MCAS
Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System

For Immediate Release
Monday, October 15, 2007
Contact:Heidi Guarino 781-338-3106 or JC Considine 781-338-3112

MCAS STE Results: More Than Two-Thirds Of Tenth Graders Passed

High Stakes Kicks in This Year For Class of 2010

MALDEN - More than two-thirds of all 10th graders passed one of the four Science and Technology/Engineering (STE) MCAS exams administered in 2007.

The 2007 administration was the first time the Biology, Chemistry, Introductory Physics and Technology/Engineering exams were introduced fully to students in grades 9 and 10. More than 100,000 students participated, including 38,741 ninth graders and 63,068 10th graders.

Overall, 81 percent of ninth graders who took an STE test passed and 53 percent scored Proficient or higher. Among 10th graders, 69 percent passed and 35 percent scored Proficient or higher.

"The 2007 results show that we are still a ways from our goal of all students performing proficiently in science and technology/engineering," said Acting Education Commissioner Jeffrey Nellhaus. "But as we learned in 2001, once high stakes are attached to an exam, educators, parents and students take them much more seriously, do more to prepare in advance, and ultimately rise to the occasion."

Board of Education Chairman Paul Reville agreed. "The high school science results, while encouraging, suggest that we have more work to do especially in light of sub-par 8th grade MCAS science scores," said Reville. "We have to significantly improve the quality of science education if we are to achieve our goal of proficiency and provide teachers and students with the support they need to meet the new graduation requirement."

In 2000, the year before passing the English and Math exams became a requirement for graduation, fewer than 50 percent of 10th graders passed both exams on their first try. When high stakes went into effect in 2001, the 10th grade passing rate rose to 68 percent. By the time the class of 2003 graduated, more than 95 percent of the class had passed both exams.

Among 9th graders, 84 percent of the 20,734 students who took the Biology test passed, as did 47 percent of the 556 students who took the Chemistry test, 79 percent of the 16,007 students who took the Introductory Physics test and 83 percent of the 1,444 students who took the Technology/Engineering exam.

Among 10th graders, 72 percent of the 45,196 students who took the Biology test passed, as did 62 percent of the 15,089 students who took the Chemistry test, 72 percent of the 2,193 students who took the Introductory Physics test and 58 percent of the 590 students who took the Technology/Engineering exam.

Officials said they are especially concerned about the performance in the state's large, urban communities. Statewide there were 39 schools where more than 95 percent of students scored below Proficient, and 60 high schools with passing rates of less than 50 percent on at least one of the STE exams.

"This requirement impacts all students, not just those in our suburban communities," Nellhaus said. "It is our job as educators to ensure that all of our students - regardless of ethnicity or hometown - get the tools they need to succeed after high school. And in today's global economy, that also means proficiency in science and technology/engineering."

Other results include:

  • At the school level, 100 percent of students passed an STE exam at 19 high schools.
  • Ninety-five percent of students tested scored in Proficient or Advanced at six schools - Arlington High School, Wayland High School, Boston Latin, Acton-Boxborough Regional High School, Dover-Sherborn Regional High School and Concord Carlisle High.
  • Across regional vocational technical schools, an average of 65 percent of students tested passed the STE exams and 21 percent of students scored Proficient or higher.

Beginning with the class of 2010 - this year's 10th graders - all students must pass the high school STE exams that corresponds with a class in which they are currently enrolled, in addition to the English and Math MCAS exams, to earn a high school diploma. The 31,553 students in the class of 2010 who took and passed an STE exam as 9th graders in 2007 have already met the STE requirement and will only participate in English and Math exams in 2008. All other students in the class of 2010 will participate in English, Math, and STE exams next spring.

Students in the class of 2009 - last year's 10th graders - are not required to pass the STE exam to graduate. This means that students who are juniors this year who did not pass the exams in 2007 will not have to participate in an STE retest.

STE exams were piloted in grades 9 and 10 in 2004 and 2005, and a full test administration was done in 2006 that resulted in item analysis reports but no individual student results. The 2007 administration was open to ninth graders enrolled in a corresponding course, and those who passed will not have to participate in the 2008 administration.

For more information on the MCAS STE exams, look online at

Download PDF Document Download MS WORD Document View Spring 2007 MCAS High School Science and Technology/Engineering Report

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