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Elementary, Middle School Students Get High Marks on State Tests
Elementary and middle school students at Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) once again performed very well on the reading and mathematics Maryland School Assessments (MSAs). In elementary schools, 88.4 percent of students scored proficient or higher on the mathematics MSA and 90.5 percent on the reading test. In middle schools, 78.8 percent scored proficient or higher on the mathematics MSA and 89 percent on the reading test.
MCPS students scored well above the state average in all areas.
“Our students continue to score at a high level on state tests, an indication they are on a path to college and work readiness,” said Patricia B. O’Neill, president of the Montgomery County Board of Education. “We must remain focused on the needs of all MCPS students so they are well-prepared for the demands of the 21st century.”
The achievement gap also continues to narrow at MCPS. Since 2003, the achievement gap between African American and white students, and Hispanic and white students has closed 13 percentage points or more in every grade level for both mathematics and reading.
“Thanks to the hard work of our outstanding staff and students, Montgomery County is making steady progress in narrowing the achievement gap,” said Superintendent of Schools Jerry D. Weast. “We still have work to do, but we are moving toward a day when race and economics will no longer be predictors of academic success.”
The MSA scores were released as part of the Maryland 2010 Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) report, which uses the assessment data to determine if schools have met federal testing targets.
ADEQUATE YEARLY PROGRESS
Overall, 103 of 131 MCPS elementary schools and 22 of the district’s 38 middle schools met testing targets and ‘made AYP.’
Schools that did not meet every one of the overall or subgroup targets in mathematics or reading for two or more consecutive years are identified for School Improvement. Schools exit School Improvement if they meet every one of the area and subgroup targets for two consecutive years.
For the sixth year in a row, none of MCPS’ Title 1 schools have been identified for School Improvement and one MCPS school, Parkland Middle, exited improvement status. There are currently 10 MCPS schools in School Improvement and two of those schools – Banneker Middle and Neelsville Middle – made AYP this year and will leave improvement status if they make it again next year. There are no MCPS schools in the “priority” stage, which is the most severe level of School Improvement. (Click here to learn more about Maryland’s AYP formula and the consequences).
The targets that all students and subgroups had to meet went up this year, causing more MCPS schools to miss making AYP. However, of the 44 schools that did not make AYP, half missed it in only one subgroup.
“The majority of MCPS schools made AYP and those that didn’t are not failing schools, but simply have areas where the teachers, staff and students must put some focused effort,” said Dr. Weast. “We will work closely and collaboratively with these schools to address these areas in the coming year.”
Many of MCPS’ student subgroups showed solid gains in MSA performance from last year. Among the highlights:
- The percentage of African American students scoring at proficient or higher in mathematics jumped 1.5 percentage points in elementary schools and 2 percentage points in middle schools.
- The percentage of Hispanic students scoring proficient or higher in reading jumped 6.1 percentage points in grade 6 and 2.6 percentage points overall in middle school.
- The percentage of middle school students that receive free and reduced-price meals (FARMS) that scored proficient or higher jumped 2.1 percentage points in mathematics and 2.7 percentage points in reading.
- The percentage of special education students scoring at proficient or higher jumped 4.2 percentage points in grade 3 mathematics and 5.5 percentage points in grade 6 reading.
- The percentage of Limited English Proficient students scoring proficient or higher in reading increased 2.6 percentage points in middle school, including a 5.2 point increase in grade 6.
Dr. Weast emphasized that since 2003, the achievement gap among racial subgroups has narrowed dramatically in all grades, in all subgroups, based on the percentage of students who scored at proficient levels or higher. For instance, since 2003:
- The gap between African American and White students has narrowed more than 14 percentage points in both reading and math for all MSA grades. The gap has narrowed 19 points in grade 5 mathematics and 20 points in grade 8 reading.
- The gap between Hispanic and White students has narrowed 13 points or more in all grades for reading and mathematics. The gap has narrowed 26.4 percentage points in grade 3 reading and 17.6 percentage points in grade 5 mathematics.
- The gap is also narrowed dramatically between all students and those receiving FARMS, special education services or those for whom English is not their primary language.
The success of MCPS in narrowing the achievement gap was cited as a major reason that MCPS was named a finalist for the 2010 Broad Prize for Urban Education.
“We should be proud of the progress we have made in narrowing the achievement gap and giving all students access to a world-class education,” Dr. Weast said. “However our work is not done and we remain committed to providing a rigorous and relevant education to every student at MCPS.”
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