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Kindergarten Reading Data Set Record, Achievement Gap Closes

January 29, 2008
Performance of African American and Hispanic Kindergarteners Closes Achievement Gap

MCPS International Baccalaureate Enrollment Soars 541 Percent in Seven Years

The percentage of kindergarten students in Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) who can read a simple story has grown from just 59 percent in 2002 to 93 percent in 2007.

The greatest gains in reading scores were among African American and Hispanic students, virtually closing the achievement gap among various student subgroups. In 2007, 87 percent of Hispanic kindergartners and 90 percent of African American kindergartners were reading.

“These steady improvements over time are a direct result of the changes we have made in kindergarten instruction through the Early Success Performance Plan,” said Dr. Jerry D. Weast, superintendent of schools.

The early success plan has concentrated on closing the achievement gap by race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status using a full-day kindergarten program, reduced class size in the early grades, and a curriculum with clear standards taught by well-prepared teachers.

“This excellent performance of kindergartners is an important first step in their successful academic career,” said Board of Education President Nancy Navarro. “There is no better investment we could have made than developing a solid reading foundation among our youngest students.”

Student reading achievement was measured using the MCPS Assessment Program—Primary Reading (MCPS AP-PR), designed to assess foundational reading skills and reading proficiency, including reading accuracy, oral reading fluency, and comprehension. The measure is a combination of local and nationally norm-referenced assessments. The results for students in 2007 were published in a report from the MCPS Department of Shared Accountability, available at the link below. The report also shows consistent gains in the number of Grade 1 students meeting or exceeding the benchmarks. Similar increases are seen for Grade 2 students when comparing 2007 results to 2006. The Grade 2 benchmark was reset in spring 2006 to make it more rigorous, so the same longitudinal data are unavailable for this grade level.

For the 2008–2009 school year, the benchmark for kindergarten reading achievement will be moved to a higher level, in response to the increasingly high level of student performance.

Summary of Major Findings

The percentage of kindergarten children at or above the text benchmark level increased continuously each year, from 59 percent in 2002 to 93 percent in 2007.

African American and Hispanic students have made the greatest gains in the six-year period. In 2002, 42 percent of Hispanic kindergartners were reading; 87 percent are reading in 2007. In 2002, 52 percent of African American kindergartners were reading; 90 percent are reading in 2007.

Five-year gains among students impacted by poverty, who receive special education services, or are English language learners were 29, 32, and 40 percentage points, respectively.

Growth in International Baccalaureate Program

Over the last seven years, enrollment in the rigorous International Baccalaureate (IB) program in Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) has jumped 541 percent to nearly 7,000 students.

MCPS is one of only a handful of school districts in North America to offer IB courses at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. In the Richard Montgomery Cluster, College Gardens Elementary School offers the IB Primary Years Programme (PYP). It is the first school in Maryland—and one of only two in the state—to offer the PYP. Students can continue their IB studies at Julius West Middle School and Richard Montgomery High School.

MCPS currently offers the only Middle Years Programme authorized in the state of Maryland.
The program is available to students in Grades 6–8 at Newport Mill, Silver Spring International, Julius West, and Westland middle schools. The program is available to students in grades 9–10 at Bethesda-Chevy Chase and Richard Montgomery high schools. Francis Scott Key Middle School and Springbrook High School are currently in the application phase of authorization.

MCPS offers the IB Diploma Programme for students in Grades 11–12 at Bethesda-Chevy Chase, Albert Einstein, Richard Montgomery, Springbrook and Watkins Mill high schools. Rockville High School has been authorized to begin offering the IB Diploma Programme beginning in 2008–09. John F. Kennedy and Seneca Valley high schools will begin the application process this school year in anticipation of being authorized by 2010–2011.

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