Holyoke Public Schools’ 2022 MCAS results show mixed progress

On Monday, October 17, HPS Superintendent Anthony Soto will lead a presentation for the Holyoke School Committee about the district’s most recent MCAS scores, including a review of test score data and next steps Holyoke Public Schools will take to improve student attendance and achievement going forward.

All community members are invited to attend Monday’s meeting to learn more about MCAS scores. The meeting begins at 6 p.m via Zoom or in person in the Fifield Room at the Holyoke High School Dean Campus. Also on Monday’s agenda are discussions about staffing, the proposed new middle school construction project, and the rezoning process.

On September 29, Massachusetts released MCAS test scores for all public school districts, which provided an overview of statewide learning since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Families should have received their children’s individual test scores soon after. If you have questions about your child’s scores or academic achievement in general, please contact your school’s main office to schedule an appointment with your child’s teacher or school counselor.

Holyoke Public Schools’ 2022 MCAS scores reinforce what Holyoke Public School educators already knew: The COVID-19 pandemic significantly disrupted students’ opportunities to learn in our classrooms with the support of their teachers and peers.

“Our students, families, and teachers worked hard throughout the 2021-22 school year to move forward with teaching and learning, but these efforts could not fully overcome the impacts of the pandemic, including interrupted learning and lost instructional time,” said Superintendent Anthony Soto.

At a high level, the district’s 2022 MCAS results showed mixed progress compared with 2021 scores. Holyoke’s results are mostly consistent with state trends. English Language Arts (ELA) scores declined overall, although 5th grade ELA scores remained steady and 7th and 8th grade ELA scores increased slightly. Math scores increased slightly in grades 3-8 and declined slightly in grade 10. Science scores increased in grades 5 and 8. Compared to pre-pandemic levels in 2019, achievement in grade 10 ELA remained steady but achievement fell in all other grade levels and subject areas.

“We have significant ground to make up across all grades and subject areas to fully recover from pandemic learning losses,” said HPS Executive Director of Academics Rebecca Thompson.

Good attendance clearly has an impact on achievement. Students with stronger attendance (above 90%) were at least two times more likely to meet or exceed expectations in every subject than students who were chronically absent (missing 10% or more days of school, which is on average 18+ days per year). 

“As we move beyond the initial stages of the pandemic, Holyoke Public Schools is taking a number of important steps to help our students get back on track academically and to improve overall student attendance when absences aren’t related to illness,” Superintendent Soto said. These district-led initiatives include:

  • Providing families factual information and positive supports to reinforce the importance and benefits of good school attendance.  
  • Working with school-level teams to proactively support consistent student attendance and help families find solutions to potential barriers.
  • Regularly assessing and analyzing students’ unmet learning needs on their journey to meeting grade-level expectations.
  • Supporting teacher teams across the district to analyze data together and plan powerful lessons that accelerate learning for all students.
  • Strengthening our early literacy instruction with the goal of having all students learning to read at grade level by third grade, so they can read to learn in all disciplines for the rest of their lives.