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.

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