What are the CPS Benchmarks of Student Achievement?
The Cambridge Public Schools (CPS) Benchmarks were developed by principals and central office administrators from standards derived through state testing programs, TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study), the use of standards in other states, and accepted research from experts in the field of education. The benchmark documents are a result of a review of this body of knowledge tempered by the experience of CPS administrators, teachers, and school councils. They will serve as an accountability tool for schools and the district. In addition, the benchmarks will help the community to understand overall student achievement and progress in closing the achievement gap in our city’s schools.
The CPS Benchmarks are comprehensive including primary and secondary indicators of achievement. Primary indicators are those set by the federal government’s No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). Primary indicators include a standard of proficiency in English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics as measured by MCAS, the Massachusetts state testing program. Secondary indicators include additional academic assessments as well as measures of school climate, family participation / satisfaction, assessments of English Language Learners, Cambridge Rindge and Latin (CRLS) graduation indicators, and competencies for Rindge School of Technical Arts (RSTA).
Benchmarks are determined for individual schools and the district and are organized by grade levels K-5, 6-8 and 9-12. They are also determined for subgroups of students in order to measure the extent to which the school/ district has addressed the achievement gap. Students are categorized into subgroups as defined by the NCLB legislation.
There are four major changes in the 2005-2006 Benchmark report from prior years. The first is that the gap analysis has been changed to compare groups of students to standards, not one ethnic/racial group versus another, (eg not white students in Cambridge compared to African American students in Cambridge). Each group of students is compared to a standard of proficiency. This change responds to the concerns expressed by some members of the community (in particular concerns expressed by the NAACP as well as others), and makes the Benchmarks easier to read and interpret.
The second change is that the MCAS data is reported using the Composite Performance Index (CPI). The CPI is used by the state to determine Adequate Yearly Progress. It is a comprehensive indicator of progress, and it is the indicator used in the CPS Goal Statements. A third change is that we are comparing our MCAS results to the state results. Finally, we have added additional statistics to the document by including two different measures of reading at 3rd grade level, also a part of the CPS Goals.
The reports included in this document represent three years of benchmark data. Benchmark reports will be used in assessing student outcomes in each school and overall progress of the school district. Individual school benchmarks will be used by the school in annual school improvement planning and by the superintendent as one piece of the evaluation of principals. The district will use district benchmarks to measure: progress in overall student achievement, the extent to which progress is made in closing the achievement gap among subgroups of students, the efficacy of existing programs, and the need for revisions in the district improvement plan.