State gives PVRS high ranking in MCAS scores, graduation rates, more 

  • Pioneer Valley Regional School —FILE PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 10/21/2018 1:23:46 PM

NORTHFIELD — Pioneer Valley Regional School ranked highly in the Department of Education’s recently released “accountability profile.”

Historically the profile has only reflected year-over-year changes in MCAS scores in English, math and science, in which Pioneer continues to rank highly.

This year the state added measurements based on graduation rates, chronic absenteeism and advanced coursework offerings, all categories in which Pioneer improved over its already high ratings from the previous year.

Overall, Pioneer is in the 65th percentile of the state, placing it above similar regional 7th- through 12th-grade schools Frontier Regional School, Mahar Regional School and Mohawk Trail Regional School, as well as above Great Falls Middle School, Greenfield Middle School, Greenfield High School and Turners Falls High School, and making it closely comparable to Four Rivers in Greenfield, which is in the 68th percentile.

Pioneer Principal Jean Bacon attributed those improvements to policy changes the district made last year.

“What we’re working on are things that happen to be valued in this new rating system. It’s a happy coincidence,” Bacon said.

The school now allows for “alternative pathways” to graduation not based on “seat time.” This allows the school to create different methods of evaluating proficiency for students who have interruptions in their education, so that “seat time” is no longer absolutely important. Bacon said that his policy enabled at least a few students to graduate last year who wouldn’t have been able to under the previous policy.

A more aggressive absenteeism policy likely affected the school’s ratings too, Bacon said. The state recommends keeping student absences under 10 days a year. Under the school’s new policy, a student’s parents are contacted after three or four absences to develop a plan for more consistent attendance, whereas previously the school would have applied a “retrospective punishment” after a student has already reached 10 absences, Bacon said.

Contact Max Marcus at or 413-772-0261 ex 261.

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