Mining the MCAS- Statistics


The Problem

Today schools have access to a myriad of data about their students from demographic information to scores on standardized tests. Many schools are trying to incorporate students performance on standardized tests into the course selection process. However, the problem is that schools have too much data and are uncertain how exactly to analyze and incorporate it into their curriculum programming. Compass High School, a large Massachusetts public school, is conducting an analysis of the grade 10 Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) results using data from the 2002 and 2003 MCAS administrations. In addition, Compass High School has included the grade 7 Metropolitan Achievement Test (MAT-7) Basic Battery scores in their analysis. The Basic Battery was selected by Compass High School as one of the indicators to be used for grade 9 course selections. The Basic Battery includes academic skills in Reading, Math and Language thought to be important for academic success and MCAS performance. The school would like to use the data collected from both tests to analyze their results and establish some guidelines for predicting future performance based on previous information. The school has previously used the MAT-7 Basic Battery Score as part of its grade 9 course enrollment process. It would like to assess how predictive the MAT-7 Basic Battery score is of future MCAS performance.

Background Information

In 1993, Massachusetts lawmakers passed a bill called the Education Reform Law. It initiated a series of changes that completely altered education in Massachusetts. The Education Reform Law set up requirements for accountability in individual students, schools and districts, reflecting on the state as a whole. As a further step of education reform, the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessmet System, or the MCAS, was implemented. The test was required for all public school students in Massachusetts to measure performance basd on the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks learning standards. It was designed to serve as one basis of accountability for students, school, and districts. Starting with the class of 2003, all public school students would have to pass the Grade 10 MCAS in order to graduate.

Sources for More Background Information:

Massachusetts Dept. of Education – About the MCAS
MCAS Score Data
Eye on Education – About the MCAS
MCAS on Boston Online

Materials Included

Information about each project is provided in a Word file, which includes:

  • A project overview
  • Background information
  • Project Goals
  • Student worksheets
  • Extensions
  • Tutorials for statistical techniques (Statistics unit only)

A second Word file contains suggested solutions for each project.

Two Excel files contain standardized test data for students who were in grade 10 during 2003. Individual student scores on the MAT-7 in Grade 7, the MCAS in Grade 8, and the MCAS in Grade 10 are provided. Note that the data reflect actual student scores. Findings based on your analyses will reflect real student performance.

MAT-7 and MCAS 10.xls
MCAS 8 and MCAS 10.xls

The data files include:

In both files:

  • School
  • Gender
  • Grade 10 MCAS English Language Arts (ELA) Scale Score
  • Grade 10 MCAS ELA Proficiency Index
    • Measures the extent to which students have attained or are progressing toward proficiency in ELA
  • Grade 10 MCAS ELA Performance Level
    • Failed, Needs Improvement, Proficient, Advanced Proficient
  • Grade 10 MCAS Math Scale Score
  • Grade 10 MCAS Math Proficiency Index
    • Measures the extent to which students have attained or are progressing toward proficiency in mathematics
  • Grade 10 MCAS Math Performance Level
    • Failed, Needs Improvement, Proficient, Advanced Proficient
  • Grade 7 MAT-7 Basic Battery Normal Curve Equivalence (NCE)

In “MAT-7 and MCAS 10.xls”:

  • Grade 7 MAT-7 Basic Battery Normal Curve Equivalent (NCE)

In “MCAS 8 and MCAS 10.xls”

  • Grade 8 MCAS Scale Score, Proficiency Index, and Performance Level for both ELA and Math