State re­leases dis­trictwide scores for 2016 PARCC tests

Baltimore Sun - - FROM PAGE ONE - Liz.bowie@balt­ egreen@balt­

tragic when some 85 per­cent of Bal­ti­more City’s eighth-graders are not pro­fi­cient in read­ing, even if that re­sult is a lit­tle higher than last year’s re­sults,” said David Steiner, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Johns Hop­kins Univer­sity In­sti­tute for Ed­u­ca­tion Pol­icy.

In com­par­i­son, Bal­ti­more County had a pass rate about dou­ble that of the city’s, with about a third of all stu­dents pass­ing the tests. The county’s scores went up sig­nif­i­cantly in math. In third grade, for in­stance, the pass rate for math went from 32 per­cent to 46 per­cent. But on av­er­age, scores in English went down — in some grades sig­nif­i­cantly.

In Anne Arun­del County, math and English scores dipped in some grades and rose slightly in oth­ers, with about 40 per­cent of stu­dents in most grades pass­ing both sub­jects. In a state­ment, county of­fi­cials noted that twice as many high school stu­dents earned a pass­ing score of 4 or 5 this year com­pared to the pre­vi­ous year.

In gen­eral, Har­ford County saw de­clines in English and in­creases in math scores. Just over half the stu­dents in the county — 52 per­cent — are pass­ing the English test, while 40 per­cent are pass­ing math on av­er­age.

Howard stu­dents had pass rates greater than 50 per­cent, and Car­roll’s had pass rates of up to 66 per­cent, de­pend­ing on the grade.

“We had been hop­ing that scores would go up a bit more this year,” said Greg Bricca, Car­roll County’s di­rec­tor of re­search and ac­count­abil­ity. He said that com­pared to the rest of the state, “I think we have got to be fairly sat­is­fied with how we did.”

But both Car­roll and Howard showed much lower scores than the year be­fore in sev­enth- and eighth-grade math, when many top stu­dents take al­ge­bra I and ge­om­e­try. Only 13 per­cent of eighth-graders in Howard passed the math por­tion of the exam.

Pass rates have dropped sig­nif­i­cantly since the state switched two years ago from the Mary­land State As­sess­ments to the PARCC, a more dif­fi­cult test. State ed­u­ca­tion of­fi­cials say they have raised the bar for what is be­ing taught in schools with the goal that stu­dents will be bet­ter pre­pared for col­lege or a job that pays a wage that can sup­port a fam­ily. Cur­rently, large num­bers of high school grad­u­ates must take re­me­dial classes in com­mu­nity col­lege be­fore they can go on to other stud­ies.

State school Su­per­in­ten­dent Karen Salmon said the re­sults are sim­i­lar to when the state in­tro­duced other new as­sess­ments in the past 30 years.

“It is dif­fi­cult to ex­pect stu­dents who have not had the in­struc­tion to be tested on it and then be ex­pected to do well,” she said.

This year’s scores do not carry ram­i­fi­ca­tions for stu­dents, schools or school sys­tems. Mary­land has not set what it will con­sider a pass­ing score. The PARCC grades stu­dents on a scale of one to five, with five be­ing ad­vanced. A four or five on the test is con­sid­ered pass­ing na­tion­ally.

Bal­ti­more County schools Su­per­in­ten­dent Dal­las Dance said the in­creases show that el­e­men­tary school teach­ers are more com­fort­able with a new Com­mon Core cur­ricu­lum that was in­tro­duced three years ago. But he said he is con­cerned about the math scores.

Just as in Car­roll and Howard, ad­vanced sev­enth- and eighth-grade math stu­dents in

County scores

The per­cent­age of stu­dents in grades three through eight who passed the PARCC test with a score of four or five. For com­plete statewide re­sults go to bal­ti­more­ Math English Bal­ti­more County can take al­ge­bra I at the end of mid­dle school. As a re­sult, they take the al­ge­bra I PARCC test, but their scores aren’t in­cluded in the re­sults for their grade level.

One of the bright spots in the test re­sults, state board mem­bers said, is how well the high­est-per­form­ing mid­dle school stu­dents did on the al­ge­bra test. Two-thirds of the 20,000 mid­dle school stu­dents tak­ing the al­ge­bra I exam are pass­ing.

Both Dance and San­telises said they be­lieve some of the de­cline in test scores is the re­sult of dif­fer­ences be­tween the pa­per and on­line ver­sions of the test. Dance called the test “flawed.” The state is study­ing the is­sue.

In Bal­ti­more, San­telises said, the most trou­bling re­sult was a steep drop in third-grade read­ing scores, which had pre­vi­ously been a grade with some of the sys­tem’s strong­est re­sults. This year, about 12 per­cent of third-grade stu­dents passed the exam, com­pared to 19 per­cent last year.

The high­est per­for­mance in the city was in third-grade math, where 19 per­cent of stu­dents met or ex­ceeded ex­pec­ta­tions.

Statewide, of­fi­cials found the re­sults par­tic­u­larly trou­bling for some groups of stu­dents. For in­stance, only 9 per­cent of stu­dents whose first lan­guage is not English and only 17 per­cent of low-in­come stu­dents in grades three through eight are pass­ing the math test.

Third-grade lit­er­acy — a key in­di­ca­tor for aca­demic suc­cess — had been a fo­cus of city schools CEO An­drés Alonso, un­der whom San­telises served as chief aca­demic of­fi­cer for three years un­til she left in 2013.

Dur­ing her ten­ure as aca­demic chief, San­telises was cred­ited for read­ing scores climb­ing af­ter she in­tro­duced a new cur­ricu­lum and be­gan im­ple­ment­ing the Com­mon Core in early grades ahead of other dis­tricts.

In the last two years, how­ever, San­telises said, it is un­clear whether the cur­ricu­lum has been taught con­sis­tently. She said there are a num­ber of schools that still were not sure how much read­ing and writ­ing should be tak­ing place, and how com­plex texts should be. Some even thought phon­ics was op­tional, ac­cord­ing to a cur­ricu­lum au­dit done by the pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tion.

“In the ab­sence of clar­ity, the ab­sence of fol­low-through, they just did what they had to do,” said San­telises, who started as CEO on July 1.

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