Island students generally excelled in English language arts and saw lower scores in mathematics, results from the latest round of state standardized tests show.

Tisbury School was a standout on MCAS this year. — Mark Alan Lovewell

This was the second year all Island public elementary and middle school students took the newest version of the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) test in reading, English and math, so schools can now begin to compare scores with last year and identify areas of improvement.

Schools are using the data to focus on improvement and growth, Vineyard schools superintendent Dr. Matthew D’Andrea said.

The Tisbury School received the highest test scores, and the Edgartown School got the highest score for progress toward improvement targets under the new accountability report system.

No schools under Mr. D’Andrea’s purview were designated by the state as requiring assistance or intervention, and half of them met targets for improvement, results show. The Chilmark School, Oak Bluffs School and Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School were found to be partially meeting targets.

The new MCAS test, also called the Next Generation test, is taken in grades three through eight for mathematics and English language arts. Tenth graders took the previous version of the MCAS, also called the Legacy MCAS. Fifth and eighth graders took the legacy test for science and technology.

Mr. D’Andrea said he likes both the online format of the new test and the way the state Department of Education interprets the data to track progress, but he said data will become more useful with more years of testing. An accountability report that accompanies raw scores and achievement data considers additional indicators including improvement, progress toward English language proficiency, and rates of chronic absenteeism

“We use this information to help us make decisions, and we really drill down into the data to see specifically where we can do better,” Mr. D’Andrea said.

The Tisbury School performed especially well, with 74 per cent of students meeting or exceeding expectations in English language arts, compared to a state average of 51 per cent. In mathematics, 65 per cent of Tisbury students met or exceeded expectations, 17 percentage points higher than the state average.

“I’m pleased,” Tisbury School principal John Custer told the Gazette. “There is a line I use ad nauseum with my staff, so much they have told me to patent it: we try to create the most favorable conditions for kids to be successful. And it seems to be working pretty well.”

The Oak Bluffs School was above the state average in English but fell short in math. — Mark Alan Lovewell

The West Tisbury School also exceeded state averages by at least 14 per cent in both math and English language arts. Both schools far outperformed the state in science and technology/engineering too, but with 80 per cent of their grade at a “proficient or higher” level in science and technology, Edgartown fifth graders secured the title of Island science stars.

The Edgartown School received a higher accountability report score for progress toward improvement targets than any school on the Island at 83 per cent. The school exceeded targets for improvement among students who are hispanic or latino and the lowest performing students among several other evaluation areas.

Both Oak Bluffs and Edgartown were above state averages in English language arts, but fell slightly behind in mathematics.

Forty per cent of Edgartown third graders met or exceeded expectations in math compared with the 50 per cent state average. Fourth and seventh graders also fell behind in math by several percentage points.

Edgartown principal John Stevens said the school has adopted a new math program called GO Math! starting this school year.

“I’m hoping that’s going to address that deficit,” he said.

Oak Bluffs fourth, fifth, sixth and eighth grades also fell below the state average in math. The school’s accountability report shows little improvement in math and science and an increase in the rate of chronic absenteeism from 3.9 per cent to 9.4 per cent.

Regional high school outperformed the state in both English and science. — Mark Alan Lovewell

Mr. D’Andrea said percentages are not statistically significant at the Chilmark School due to its small enrollment, but students there achieved at the state level or above in both English language arts and math. The school serves kindergarten through fifth grade, and enrollment hovers around 60 students.

The high school outperformed the state in both English and science, with at least 80 per cent of students scoring at proficient or higher in both subjects. In math, 76 per cent of tenth graders were proficient or higher, compared to the 78 per cent state average. The high school received a low accountability profile score of 26 per cent, a score high school principal Sara Dingledy said was due to incremental downward fluctuations in scores that are generally high, but the data is still helpful for identifying areas of improvement.

“I think it’s a good place to look and evaluate and see where we can push kids,” she said. “I embrace the challenge, especially in areas like math and science.”

The low accountability score was due in part to an apparent increase in rates of chronic absenteeism from 16.6 to 23.8 per cent between 2017 and 2018, according to the report. Ms. Dingledy said she is not surprised by the 2018 attendance numbers, and thinks the change may be due to more thorough reporting of absences. She said she expects that number to go down next year.

The Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter school received a designation of requiring assistance or intervention. Head of school Pete Steedman, who is new to the job this year, attributed the rating to small numbers and low attendance during testing.

“We received that designation due to low participation, not achievement,” Mr. Steedman said. “We are such a small school and one or two students opting out can really affect the numbers.”

The school had 92 per cent participation in English language arts, 94 per cent participation in mathematics, and 88 per cent participation in science. Mr. Steedman said he will continue to work with parents and families to promote attendance during testing.

“We will do everything in our power to make sure our rate is above 95 per cent,” he said.