In wake of pandemic, MCAS scores drop in Dartmouth, state

Sep 21, 2021

In a trend that mirrors districts across the state, Dartmouth’s 2021 MCAS standardized testing results dropped from previous years, which education officials attribute to learning loss during the pandemic.

“Our growth appears to be hovering in the low average,’’ Superintendent of Schools Dr. Bonny Gifford said soon after the results were publicly announced Tuesday, Sept. 21. But, she noted, “there are so many districts scoring in the low growth area.’’

State level results show that many more students had “gaps in their knowledge of math and, to a lesser extent, English language arts,’’ compared to students in the same grades before the Covid-19 pandemic, and fewer students met or exceeded grade level expectations, state education officials said. 

The results overall “clearly illustrate how the disrupted school year of remote and hybrid learning impacted students’ academic achievement,” said Secretary of Education James Peyser. “We will continue to work with districts to support efforts to regain learning that did not happen and promote student success and educational equity.”

Strong support systems are in place in Dartmouth, Gifford said.

Dartmouth’s scores generally surpassed the state averages, Gifford said, which she credited to “the incredible effort our district made to offer enrichment and office hour sessions for students during remote days, create an elementary virtual academy, implement synchronous learning’’ and other services.

In Dartmouth, while English language arts scores were generally closer to 2019 results, math and science scores showed the most decreases. The state did not administer MCAS tests in spring 2020, so 2019 is the most recent year for comparison. 

In third grade math in Dartmouth, for example, in 2021, 37% met or exceeded expectations, 48% partially met expectations and 15% did not meet expectations.

In 2019, those figures were: 49% met or exceeded expectations, 43% partially met expectations and 8% did not meet expectations. 

The state figures in that category for 2021 were: 33% met or exceeded expectations, 40% partially met expectations and 26% did not meet expectations.

In 2021 grade 5 science, in Dartmouth, 47% met or exceeded expectations, 41% partially met expectations and 13% did not meet expectations.

In 2019 in Dartmouth in fifth grade science, 54% met or exceeded expectations, 41% partially met expectations and 6% did not meet expectations. 

On the state level for grade 5 science, 42% met or exceeded expectations, 39% partially met expectations and 19% did not meet expectations. 

In grade 10 mathematics for 2021 in Dartmouth, 60% met or exceeded expectations, 32% partially met expectations, and 7% did not meet expectations.

On the state level for grade 10 mathematics, 52% met or exceeded expectations, 36% partially met expectations and 12% did not meet expectations. 

The 2019 Dartmouth numbers for grade 10 mathematics showed that 69% exceeded or met expectations, 25% partially met expectations and 6% did not meet expectations. 

On the state level, math and science scores also reflected a greater drop than in English language arts, state education officials reported. 

Forty-six percent of students in grades 3-8 scored meeting expectations or higher in English language arts in 2021, and 33% did so in math. Both of these represent a drop compared to 2019, when 52% scored at that level in English language arts and 49% did so in math.

 For grade 10 English language arts across the state, 64% of students scored met or exceeded expectations compared to 61% in 2019.

In math, 52 % of 10th grade students met or exceeded expectations, compared to 59% in 2019.

For a comprehensive look at Dartmouth results, visit

For a full list of statewide MCAS results, visit