Significant Increases Shown in Middle School Algebra 1 Participation and Performance for Black, Hispanic and Special Education Students
Data released by the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) show that Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) students continue to make gains in performance and continue to outperform their peers across the state on the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC) assessments.
MCPS student performance was consistent with state data trends where English Language Arts (ELA) gains were noted except in grade eight and where results were mixed for mathematics.
“We are pleased to see continued gains in student participation and performance,” stated Jack R. Smith, Superintendent of Schools. PARCC is one of multiple internal and external measurement that help us ensure our students are learning. MCPS cannot and will not be satisfied until we have reduced, and ultimately eliminated, all of the disparities in performance among our student populations.”
Student performance in ELA Grades 3-5 has shown continued gains over the last two years. MCPS students also outperformed the state. Other notable points:
• More than 50 percent of students in grades 3-5 scored at a performance level of 4 and 5 (41.0 percent state average), posting a 4.9 percentage point increase since 2015.
• More than 49.5 percent of students in grades 6-8 scored at a performance level of 4 and 5 (40.1 percent state average).
Student performance in mathematics Grade 3-5 showed no significant progress in the past year maintaining 49.4 percent of students scoring at a performance level of 4 or 5, still outperforming their state peers by more than 10 percentage points (38.7 percent state average).
Results were mixed in mathematics for Grades 6-8. While there were slight decreases in Grades 6 and 7, middle school Algebra 1 participation and performance increased as more students were provided the opportunity to take the Algebra 1 course before high school.
• Middle school Algebra 1 PARCC participation reached a historic high as the number of test takers climbed to 9,095, a 38.2 percent increase (2,513 more test takers) over the number in 2015. Increases were greatest in Grade 8, particularly among Black/African American and Hispanic students, and students who received Free and Reduced-price Meals System (FARMS) services.
• In 2017, there were 7,003 Grade 8 PARCC Algebra 1 test takers, compared with 4,286 in 2015, a 63.4 percent increase. Algebra 1 PARCC participation among Grade 8 African American and Hispanic students increased 78.9 percent and 94.1 percent, respectively, between 2015 and 2017. Among Grade 8 students who received FARMS services, Algebra 1 PARCC participation increased 88.4 percent between 2015 and 2017. For special education students, Algebra 1 PARCC participation increased by 127.5 percent.
• The slight decrease in the percentage of middle school test takers who earned PARCC Algebra 1 scores at proficiency level (PL) 3 or higher in 2017 was offset by an increase of 31.6 percent in the number of PL scores of 3 or higher. Increases were greatest in Grade 8, particularly among African American and Hispanic students, special education and students who received FARMS services. In 2017, the number of Grade 8 PARCC Algebra 1 PL scores of 3 or higher increased more than 55 percent. The number of PARCC Algebra 1 PL scores of 3 or higher earned by Grade 8 Black or African American and Hispanic students increased 77.6 percent and 73.7 percent, respectively, between 2015 and 2017. The number of PARCC Algebra 1 PL scores of 3 or higher earned by Grade 8 students who received FARMS services and special education services increased 72.7 percent and 128.6 percent, respectively, between 2015 and 2017.
“The PARCC results provide valuable information that help MCPS monitor student achievement and ensure that we are preparing all MCPS students for lifelong success,” said Montgomery County Board of Education President Michael Durso. “While the data show progress, we continue to see significant achievement gaps that require critical action.”
For the first time since the implementation of PARCC in Algebra 1 and ELA/Literacy 10, students needed to meet a passing minimum score to meet the Maryland High School Assessment graduation requirement. Of the students taking ELA/Literacy 10, 79 percent of the students received a PL of 3 or higher and earned their graduation requirement, while more than 68 percent of middle and high school students taking Algebra 1 earned their graduation requirement.
MCPS will include this data in its school and district improvement efforts and will use them, along with other information, to help improve teaching and learning.