CCPS stu­dents trail state PARCC av­er­ages

Re­sults show mod­est gains over last year

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE - By JES­SICA IANNETTA

jian­netta@ce­cil­whig.com

— County stu­dents made mod­est gains across al­most all grade lev­els dur­ing the sec­ond year of the new state-man­dated tests but con­tin­ued to fall be­hind state pass­ing rates, ac­cord­ing to re­sults re­leased this week.

While there were some bright spots in the data, Ce­cil County

CE­CIL COUNTY

Pub­lic Schools Su­per­in­ten­dent D’Ette Devine ac­knowl­edged on Thurs­day that the county still needs to make some changes to ad­just to the new, more rig­or­ous tests. But over­all, the school sys­tem is “bet­ter than where we rank,” she said.

“We have some work to do, we un­der­stand that. But it’s not atyp­i­cal of chang­ing sys­tem­at­i­cally into a dif­fer­ent realm — and it’s a good change. The stan­dards are strong. We just have to de­velop some more sup­ports for our folks,” she said.

Mary­land re­leased dis­trictlevel re­sults for the new Part­ner­ship for As­sess­ment of Readi­ness for Col­lege and Ca­reer (PARCC) on Tues­day fol­low­ing the re­lease of statewide re­sults last month. The re­sults cover read­ing and math for stu­dents in grades three through eight as well as the Al­ge­bra I, Al­ge­bra II and English 10 tests taken by high school­ers. PARCC, which was ad­min­is­tered for the first time in 2015 and is a com­po­nent of the state’s version of the fed­eral Com­mon Core ini­tia­tive, re­placed the former Mary­land School As­sess­ment (MSA) and High School

As­sess­ment (HSA).

In this year’s re­sults, 31 per­cent of elementary and mid­dle school stu­dents hit stan­dards in read­ing and 26.6 per­cent did so in math, an in­crease over the pass­ing rates of 29.3 per­cent and 24.7 per­cent from last year. While mid­dle school­ers fared bet­ter than elementary school stu­dents, ev­ery grade con­tin­ued to lag be­hind state pass­ing rates, rang­ing from as lit­tle as 1.8 per­cent­age points to as much as 13.5 per­cent­age points.

The county’s high school stu­dents came much closer to the state pass­ing rates but didn’t show the same im­prove­ment as elementary and mid­dle school stu­dents. While the county’s Al­ge­bra I pass­ing rate essentially stayed flat — fall­ing less than 1 per­cent­age point to 32.8 per­cent — its English 10 pass­ing rate fell by 4.1 per­cent­age points to 33.3 per­cent.

Though the county’s Al­ge­bra I pass­ing rate was less than 3 per­cent­age points be­hind the state av­er­age of 35.6 per­cent, its English 10 pass­ing rate was 11.1 per­cent­age points be­hind the state pass­ing rate of 44.4 per­cent af­ter trail­ing by only about 2 per­cent­age points last year.

The PARCC tests, which don’t yet count for grad­u­a­tion

or teacher eval­u­a­tions, have five per­for­mance lev­els. Though a score of a four or five in­di­cates col­lege and ca­reer readi­ness, the state has not yet set the pass­ing score, mean­ing some stu­dents who score a three could still end up pass­ing in fu­ture years.

While county stu­dents were be­hind the state av­er­ages in most cases, Devine and Jeff Law­son, as­so­ci­ate su­per­in­ten­dent of ed­u­ca­tion ser­vices, pointed out that CCPS faced many chal­lenges when it came to the sec­ond round of PARCC tests. Chief among those was the nar­row win­dow of time the sys­tem had to an­a­lyze the re­sults of the first round of test­ing and then ad­just cur­ricu­lum, Law­son said.

With this year’s re­sults avail­able much ear­lier than be­fore and more re­sources catch­ing up to the new Com­mon Core cur­ricu­lum, CCPS is im­ple­ment­ing some new math and read­ing pro­grams as well as ad­di­tional train­ing for teach­ers, Law­son said.

“We’re con­fi­dent that we’ve got a plan in place that we’re go­ing to see some im­prove­ments pretty soon,” he said.

High school The county’s high school level re­sults were a mixed bag with many schools that had the low­est scores last year post­ing dou­ble-digit gains while some of the higher-per­form­ing schools

saw big drops.

High school read­ing pass­ing rates dropped coun­ty­wide by about 4 per­cent­age points but among the five high schools, Elk­ton and Per­ryville both saw in­creases. Elk­ton posted a mod­est gain of about 2 per­cent­age points for a 26.8 per­cent pass­ing rate while Per­ryville saw a nearly 20 per­cent­age point in­crease to 45.3 per­cent, the high­est pass­ing rate in the county.

Ris­ing Sun, which had the high­est pass­ing rate last year, dropped from 47.6 per­cent down to 38.1 per­cent, while Bohemia Manor dropped from 43.4 per­cent to 29.9 per­cent and North East fell from 37.7 per­cent down to 28.7.

One rea­son for the lower scores in read­ing could be the change from writ­ing es­says on pa­per to writ­ing them on a com­puter screen, Law­son said.

“We see a real dis­con­nect with stu­dents when they write an es­say in pa­per and pen­cil and when they are asked to write it on­line,” he said, not­ing that some of this has to do with the abil­ity to con­cen­trate as well as to trans­late the nar­ra­tive from their head to the screen.

To com­bat this, CCPS is en­cour­ag­ing teach­ers to give more of their as­sess­ments on Chrome­books to give stu­dents more prac­tice at this skill, Law­son said.

The county’s Al­ge­bra II pass­ing rates were the fourth high-

est in the state though, with more than 50 per­cent of stu­dents pass­ing, an in­crease over last year’s 19 per­cent. But part of the rea­son for this in­crease is that about 500 fewer stu­dents took the test. That’s be­cause CCPS pol­icy dic­tates that stu­dents take the first PARCC test that they’re ready for. In prac­tice, this meant that dur­ing the first round of PARCC test­ing last year up­per­class­men had to take the Al­ge­bra II test since the Al­ge­bra I test wasn’t around when they were fresh­men, Law­son said.

The sys­tem’s Al­ge­bra I scores were still strong this year though, Law­son noted, only about 3 per­cent­age points be­hind the state av­er­age. Ris­ing Sun con­tin­ued to lead all county high schools with 29.6 per­cent pass­ing, in­creas­ing from 18.3 per­cent last year. No other school came close to hit­ting that pass­ing rate though Elk­ton and Per­ryville again saw big in­creases. Per­ryville had the sec­ond high­est pass­ing rate at 12.2 per­cent, dou­ble its rate of 6.1 in 2015 while Elk­ton’s pass­ing rate rose to 7.7 per­cent af­ter less than 5 per­cent of stu­dents passed last year.

Bo Manor and North East mean­while, both saw their pass­ing rates drop with Bo Manor’s fall­ing from 11.3 to 8.8 and North East’s fall­ing from 14 to 8.7.

Per­ryville’s suc­cess was

one of the high­lights of this year’s re­sults and both Law­son and Devine are hope­ful that had some­thing to do with the school’s new A/B sched­ule, which it adopted last year, a year ahead of the rest of the county as part of a pi­lot pro­gram.

“It’s time on task over a pro­longer pe­riod,” Devine said. “It helps.”

Mid­dle school Mid­dle school re­sults proved more en­cour­ag­ing with the pass­ing rates in many grades im­prov­ing sig­nif­i­cantly over last year.

Sixth graders saw some of the big­gest in­creases with the pass­ing rate in read­ing ris­ing nearly 6 per­cent­age points to 28.4 and the math pass­ing rate ris­ing more than 2 per­cent­age points to 30.8 per­cent. Eighth grade math, which last year had the low­est pass­ing rate of any test in the county at just 10.3 per­cent, im­proved nearly 4 per­cent­age points to 14 per­cent while read­ing rose more than 2 per­cent­age points to 31.9 per­cent.

Sev­enth graders also posted gains with the read­ing pass­ing rate ris­ing from 30.3 to 33.6 per­cent and the math pass­ing rate in­creas­ing from 26.8 to 28.4 per­cent.

Mid­dle school stu­dents were also much closer to the state pass­ing rates, par­tic­u­larly in math where sixth graders were just 1.8 per­cent­age points be­hind while sev­enth and eighth

graders were 4.2 per­cent­age points and 7.9 per­cent­age points be­hind.

Elementary school As was the case last year, elementary school stu­dents over­all did the worst on this year’s PARCC tests. No grade came closer than 7 per­cent­age points to the state pass­ing rate on ei­ther test with some grades more than 10 per­cent­age points be­hind.

Ev­ery in­di­vid­ual grade saw im­prove­ment though with the ex­cep­tion of fourth grade, which saw about a 3 per­cent­age drop in read­ing to 30.4 per­cent and a 2 per­cent­age point drop in math to 24.5 per­cent.

Third graders did the best of the three grades in math with 35 per­cent of stu­dents pass­ing — a 5 per­cent­age point in­crease from last year. Mean­while, 30.5 per­cent passed read­ing, roughly the same amount as last year. These third graders are also the first stu­dents to have started their school ca­reers with the Com­mon Core cur­ricu­lum, which is an en­cour­ag­ing sign, Devine said.

Fifth graders, mean­while, saw about a 2 per­cent­age point jump in read­ing to 31.3 per­cent and stayed about the same in math, ris­ing slightly to 23 per­cent.

De­spite this year’s re­sults, Devine said the sys­tem is hope­ful that next year’s re­sults will be bet­ter.

CE­CIL WHIG FILE PHOTO

Ce­cil County stu­dents fell fur­ther be­hind state av­er­ages dur­ing the sec­ond year of PARCC test­ing, ac­cord­ing to re­sults re­leased re­cently.

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