While holding their place across the board for strong academic achievement, Vineyard public schools turned in mixed scores this year on the MCAS exam with some schools showing new areas that need improvement, especially when it comes to improving proficiency among low income, non-English-speaking and special needs students.

Test scores from the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System for individual schools were released by the state department of elementary and secondary education Friday.

All seven public schools on the Island remained high achieving schools. But West Tisbury and Tisbury, which were ranked level one schools last year, fell to level two this year for not meeting targets in closing the proficiency gap for some students. MCAS rankings for what is called the Progress and Performance Index range from one to five, with four and five considered failing schools. Level two schools need improvement in some areas, usually with certain sub-groups of students.

Edgartown, Oak Bluffs and Chilmark remained level one schools and turned in the strongest scores, meeting or exceeding all targets, while the regional high school was ranked as a level two school for the third year in a row. The Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School was also ranked level two.

Vineyard schools superintendent Dr. James H. Weiss said this week that school leaders are just beginning to examine the data. “There is nothing surprising here,” he said, praising the three elementary schools that turned in high scores and noting that the high school in particular needs to focus on improvements in writing and math.

Students in third through eighth grades took the test last spring in the subject areas of English, math and science. In addition, tenth graders must pass the mathematics, English and biology tests in order to graduate.

But in the Island elementary schools the MCAS test is already a thing of the past. Last year Island public schools were chosen to participate in a trial online test that will replace the MCAS test beginning next year, Mr. Weiss said.

He said the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) exam was favored by school leaders for two main reasons: the test is aligned with the common core curriculum which public schools in Massachusetts are adopting; and the test is taken on a computer, which children enjoy. “Our kids love to do things on computers,” Mr. Weiss said. “Kids really enjoyed taking the test [last year in the trial].”

MCAS has been the state’s standardized test since 1998. High school students will still be required to take the MCAS exam because it is required for graduation.

In the MCAS exam, schools are graded on two major scales: how well test scores compare to other schools in the state, and how well the schools are progressing toward narrowing the gap between underperforming and proficient students. The second scale is an accountability measure adopted under the federal No Child Left Behind act, which sets high expectations for students, even those who require extra supports in the classroom.

Vineyard students generally outperformed their state peers in most areas, but especially in language arts in the upper grades. Needed areas of improvement are mostly in mathematics and trend toward low income, special needs students and students for whom English is not their first language. In these areas the Tisbury and West Tisbury school did not meet their targets.

Mr. Weiss said assistant superintendent Matt D’Andrea will lead an in-depth examination of the data in the weeks and months ahead. “What we do with all of this is we spend probably three weeks to a month looking

at all this information. We look first for general trends. We get individual data about each kind of question. We also look at individual kids,” he said.

He pointed out that because Vineyard schools are already high achieving, it becomes harder to meet ambitious targets for improvement every year.

“In general terms what I would say is we have high performing schools — they do very well and as a result they have difficulty keeping up with the gap closing,” Mr. Weiss said. “It’s a very slow process, the targets that are set for us are high. We have to just keep moving in the right direction. Of course I’m disappointed all our schools aren’t level one. But the tests have given us information and we can use that.”

Statewide, MCAS scores are being called stagnant with some progress shown but still some failing schools.