State sets passing scores for PARCC tests
— Starting next school year, Maryland will begin to incrementally raise the passing score on the new English and math tests high school students need to graduate.
Last week, the Maryland State Board of Education voted to raise the passing score needed for the new Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC) tests every year for the next four years. Maryland students have been taking the new PARCC tests for the last two school years, though the tests have not been a graduation requirement. The tests are scored a scale of one to five, with a score of four or five indicating college and career readiness.
But while a four or five indicates readiness, this differs from a passing score, something the state has waited to determine until now.
Starting with the 20162017 school year, students will need to score at least a 725 or a three, on the one to five scale, to pass the Algebra I and English 10 tests. By the 2019-2020 school year, the passing score will
be raised to 750, or a four on the scale.
On the first round of PARCC test results, which were released last fall, about 70 percent of county students scored at least a three on the Algebra I test while about 58 percent hit that mark on the English 10 test. Conversely, only 34 percent scored a four or a five on the Algebra I test and only 37.4 percent did so on the English 10 test.
On Monday night, Superintendent D’Ett Devine updated the Cecil County Public Schools Board of Education on the state board’s recent decision. Devine noted that the state board reserves the right to slow down the process depending on how the various school systems around the state respond to gradual increase.
“This is not set in stone,” she said. “But they felt they had to set the highest mark. They want everyone to be reaching that college and career ready four score by the end of their high school careers. That’s the goal.”
Unlike past state-mandated tests though, Devine said students who do poorly on PARCC still have other options to fulfill the graduation requirement.
These options include hitting certain scores on other tests such as the SAT, the ACT or Advanced Placement tests, completing a Bridge project or achieving a certain combined score on the English 10 and Algebra I PARCC tests. The combined passing score will continue to rise over the next four years as well, she noted.
Several board members expressed concerns about whether funding is available to help students pay for tests such as the SAT and AP tests, which now might be needed for graduation. Devine said the system has “language” about offering financial assistance to students and the board noted this may need to be monitored to make sure all students have equal access.
But in general, most of the board members said they liked the many different paths set up for students to demonstrate college and career readiness.
“What I appreciate most is the thoughtfulness to the one size does not fit all,” Board Vice President Wendy Wintersgill said. “That is more real world thinking anyway — to have a diverse system of opportunities for all students.”
Students will be required to score higher each of the next four years in order to be deemed proficient on the new PARCC assessments.