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Are your child's lower MCAS scores a cause for worry?

Results are in for last spring's MCAS tests and students in grades 3 through 8 are still struggling to meet or exceed expectations in English and Math.

It was the second year these students took a revised test, referred to as the Next-Gen MCAS. Students in upper grades took the traditional, or legacy, MCAS and an overwhelming majority on Cape met state standards for graduation.

The Next-Gen MCAS was intended to focus on critical thinking, application of knowledge and making connections between reading and writing. Scores fell in 2017, and minimal if any improvements were made in the most recent testing, taken in the spring of 2018.

For that test, Cape Cod students achieved between 40 to 50 percent in math and language arts, but some schools performed well above and below that average, according to the Cape Cod Times.

Is your child struggling?

Your student’s results should be analyzed carefully. The overall scores should not reflect a monumental shift. How can you tell if it is a sign your child is seriously struggling? Is an evaluation for special education services really warranted? Consider these questions in making your assessment: Is homework a constant struggle?

Homework is designed for your child to practice what he already learned. If your child is unable to complete homework independently on a regular basis, he may not understand what is being taught in school. Is your child anxious or negative about going to school? Often, children who are falling behind academically become disengaged in going to school and may become sick more frequently or complain about that it is too hard, or he doesn’t get it?

Do you see her trying hard, putting in the time, yet still not achieving?

Watch your child closely when she is completing schoolwork—does she look or act frustrated or hopeless? Does she constantly erase, delete, or start over? If she is working hard to do the work, yet still struggling, it may be time to consider an evaluation.

Is the teacher or other school staff sending signals? Even though it is still early in the year, the teacher has had enough opportunity to determine if your child is falling behind. Review graded papers, weekly folders and e-mail communication with the teacher and look for signs that the teacher or other school staff are having concerns about your child’s progress.

After reviewing these points, it’s time to request a meeting with your child’s teacher. Find out if there have been any special interventions or support provided to the class or your child. Ask how his progress in each subject compares to what is typical in that grade level at his school. Next, consider calling an education advocate such as Cape Cod Advocate. We will subjectively review all of the information and help you determine whether or not an evaluation is warranted. Based on our 20+ years of experience advocating for students in Cape Cod schools systems, we can help you gauge your child’s situation and recommend action. If an evaluation is not appropriate, we can recommend the most effective techniques, tips and tutors to help meet your child’s unique needs. Let’s work together to increase your child’s chances of improving his scores on the next set of standardized tests! Please call us at your earliest convenience.

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