OUR STUDENTS CONSISTENTLY OUTPERFORM STATE AND DISTRICT STUDENT PERFORMANCE STANDARDS FOR ELA , MATH AND SCIENCE PROFICIENCY.
Four Rivers embraces the importance of making sure our students master knowledge and skills sometimes measured by standardized tests, though we are not a test-driven school.
- In 2016, Four Rivers Charter Public School tenth grade students achieved 100% proficiency on the English Language Arts MCAS test for the fourth year in a row.
- Only two students in seven years have scored less than proficient.
- Four Rivers outperformed an index of sending schools in every category for grades 7, 8, and 10 in 2016 and other years.
Four Rivers enrolls a wide range of students from several school districts, as well as some home school networks. While the middle school MCAS scores reflect a diversity of experience and readiness, nearly all of those students, from those who struggle to those who excel, show impressive growth over their years in the school, leading to strong 10th grade results.
An analysis completed by the Massachusetts Charter Public School Association in 2014 showed that Four Rivers outperformed all of the sending districts from which its students come, with the exception of 8th grade science.
- On the ELA tests, Four Rivers was six points ahead of sending districts for 10th grade, ten points ahead for 8th grade, and eight points ahead for 7th grade.
- On the Math tests, Four Rivers was two points ahead of sending districts for 10th grade, five points ahead for 8th grade, and eighteen points ahead for 7th grade.
- On the Science tests, Four Rivers was nine points ahead of sending districts for 10th grade Biology, and ten points behind for 8th grade.
Several critical elements of the school’s program may contribute to this ongoing success:
- Teachers in all subjects, especially English, Social Studies, and Science, emphasize literacy skills related to writing, close reading, and using evidence to support claims.
- EL Education practices match well with Common Core Standards incorporated in state frameworks, especially those emphasizing higher order thinking.
- Standards-based grading and assessment for learning practices emphasize revision, growth mindset, and academic behaviors that encourage students to learn and improve skills.
Four Rivers continues to outperform sending districts in almost all categories. To compare our results to the state and to our sending districts, we look at the percent of students who scored proficient or advanced on MCAS (or who scored a 4 or 5 on PARCC). Nearly all our students come from the six public districts in Franklin County, so it is those districts to which we compare our results.
ENGLISH LANGUAGE ARTS
We have been working on our math program this past charter term, with improved results this past year. We completed a program review, explored new resources and textbook options, and our math teachers have worked with a math instructional coach for the past two years. We have strengthened the vertical alignment of this program in terms of curriculum and have adopted similar approaches to differentiate instruction at all grade levels. Last, we have worked on helping students adopt a “growth mindset” related to math. With the exception of one year in 10th grade, two years in 8th grade, and one year in 7th grade, our students outperformed the state and our sending districts, all during what we consider “rebuilding” years. We’ll need to see performance from this year and ahead to see whether improvements persist.
Our science program is inquiry-driven, extensively involving fieldwork, labs, and experiments to help students learn to think like scientists. This emphasis matches well with the newly adopted Next Generation Science Standards, though the MCAS does not yet reflect emphasis on inquiry. Our 10th grade scores have been strong, as we emphasize overarching inquiry skills while covering essential content. Our 8th grade scores have been stronger than the state and most of our sending districts, while the test still asks for broader content coverage than our emphasis on depth allows.
FOUR RIVERS GRADUATES