The new Monomoy Regional School District and the Dennis-Yarmouth Regional School District are perhaps the Cape’s two most vulnerable school systems.
Monomoy lost the school choice battle to Nauset long ago and today struggles with academic and enrollment issues. Dennis-Yarmouth suffers academic challenges, an itinerant population and huge losses to school choice, charter choice and from the Cape’s declining population of young people.
Perhaps Monomoy’s best chance to recover enrollment is to attract school choice students from Dennis-Yarmouth. Monomoy is attractive to a D-Y family for its smaller enrollment and rural feel, along with its new, state-of-the-art high school. Monomoy generally scores better than Dennis-Yarmouth on the MCAS but still languishes among the Cape’s lower-ranked school districts.
On the chart on the right and the larger version below, we have compared year-over-year percentages of students who scored advanced/proficient on MCAS. For example, the chart shows that Monomoy’s 2013 class of fourth graders ranked 43% advanced/proficient and the same group (as fifth graders) scored 67% advanced/proficient in 2014.
At Monomoy the biggest year-to-year drop was 15 percentage points in mathematics between 2013’s sixth graders and 2014’s seventh graders. Monomoy’s biggest gain was a 14 percentage point jump in English Language Arts between 2013’s fourth graders and 2014’s fifth graders.
Dennis-Yarmouth’s biggest drop was 23 percentage points between third and fourth grade mathematics. Its biggest gain was between fourth and fifth grade English Language Arts – the same grade level where Monomoy’s kids showed the biggest increase.
Monomoy had six sets of scores that went down, while D-Y had five.
What a difference five years makes
The difference in a single year between third grade scores and eighth grade scores in a single year is striking. At Monomoy 60% of third graders were advanced/proficient at reading while 70% of eight graders were advanced/proficient in ELA. 63% of Monomoy’s third graders were advanced/proficient at math while only 39% of eighth graders held that distinction in 2014.
At Dennis-Yarmouth the 2014 third grade reading advanced/proficient percentage was 54% and the eighth grade ELA percentage was 71.
Same grade level from 2013 to 2014
Monomoy’s same grade level scores from 2013 to 2014 fell except in three groups. Grade 4 ELA and Grade 4 mathematics both improved from percentages in the 50s to percentages in the 60s. Grade 7 ELA remained even at 74% advanced/proficient between 2013 and 2014.
By the same metric, Dennis-Yarmouth saw percentage drops in six grade level skill domains between the two years. D-Y marked improvement in the other six score groups.
Not that different
At the third grade level there is a six point difference between D-Y’s percentage advanced/proficient versus Monomoy’s in both Reading and Math. At the eighth grade level there’s a 1% difference in ELA and Monomoy has a 9 point advantage in mathematics.
By the time the kids reach the tenth grade MCAS, Monomoy has 93% of its students scoring proficient or advanced in ELA while Dennis-Yarmouth has 92% at the same level. In the grade 10 math MCAS Monomoy ranks 85% of its students advanced/proficient while D-Y has 82% at that level.
Monomoy likes to call itself the Cape’s “school of choice”, yet Dennis Yarmouth’s finished product by tenth grade doesn’t look that different from Monomoy’s.
If MCAS is the “Consumer Reports” ranking of school choice options, the scores don’t compel anyone concerned with academics to choose one of these districts over the other.
This reality is reflected in Monomoy’s new (grade 8-12) high school enrolling only 630 students (according to their website) versus the 700 students they were required to enroll to receive Massachusetts School Building Authority funding for the new school.
Can Monomoy be saved by a D-Y students' "Edifice Complex"?
By the time a student reaches tenth grade, there just isn’t that much difference between the two school district’s MCAS scores. In our experience studying the Cape’s school choice market, most families are unlikely to uproot their child for a couple of percentage points unless they are smitten with Monomoy's new building and they suffer from an "Edifice Complex".