The first round of MCAS scores have come in since the state rolled out a new, redesigned test earlier this year — and they're not great.

Statewide, students in grades 3-8 performed less well this year than they have in previous years. In a dramatic example, only 49 percent of students in eighth grade English met or exceeded expectations, compared to 79 percent of eighth grade students who achieved an equivalent designation on the old test in 2014.

But Harvard Graduate School of Education professor and former state Secretary of Education Paul Revillesays comparing the old and new exams is like comparing apples and oranges — and that lower scores, at least at first, shouldn't come as a surprise.

"It's a new yardstick," he said. "We've set a higher standard."

Reville said the new test was designed to address the problem of students who had succeeded on the old MCAS finding themselves unprepared for college-level math and English, requiring remedial classes before they could move ahead. 

"It suggested the standards in the K-12 system were not high enough — even though our standards were admired around the nation," Reville explained. "We're raising the standard for what we say is proficient and advanced work."

It's a similar position to one Gov. Charlie Baker has taken on the first round of new MCAS scores. He told Boston Public Radio last week, "I think it's important for people to realize that it's a new test. You can't really benchmark it against the old one."

Click on the audio player above to listen to the entire interview with Paul Reville.