Kent County posts mid­dling PARCC re­sults

Kent County News - - FRONT PAGE - By DANIEL DIVILIO ddivilio@thekent­coun­tynews.com

CHESTERTOWN — Kent County Pub­lic Schools posted a slight slide in the per­cent­age of stu­dents who met stan­dards on state as­sess­ments for the 2016-17 aca­demic year.

The Mary­land Report Card for the 2016-17 Part­ner­ship for As­sess­ment of Readi­ness for Col­lege and Ca­reers ex­ams were posted on­line last month at re­port­card. msde. mar yland. gov. The PARCC ex­ams in­clude English lan­guage arts for third through eighth grades and 10th grade, math for third through eighth grade, al­ge­bra I and al­ge­bra II.

All told, there were 15 dif­fer­ent ex­ams. Out of the nine coun­ties on the Shore, Kent av­er­aged sev­enth on the ex­ams, most fre­quently jostling for po­si­tion with Dorch­ester and Som­er­set coun­ties. A first-blush re­view of the num­bers shows Bal­ti­more City schools at the bot­tom of the scor­ing while Worces­ter County stu­dents led the state on a num­ber of tests.

“We know there’s still work to be done,” said Su­per­in­ten­dent Karen Couch. “I be­lieve our lead­er­ship team is well poised to ad­dress the ur­gency of stu­dent per­for­mance.”

Kent County Board of Ed­u­ca­tion Pres­i­dent Tr­ish McGee, who also is as­so­ciate edi­tor of the Kent County

News, was dis­heart­ened by the district’s PARCC scores, though she main­tained high es­teem for stu­dents, teach­ers and ad­min­is­tra­tors, in- clud­ing Couch.

“I think we have an in­cred­i­bly hard-work­ing staff. I mean, I feel like our teach­ers are re­ally in­vested in the suc­cess of our stu­dents,” McGee said, adding that she is not point­ing fin­gers at the ad­min­is­tra­tion, teach­ers or sup­port staff.

Still, she said the district needs to turn the scores around.

“There had been talk of mak­ing us one of the top five dis­tricts in the state. We’re not even one of the top five dis­tricts on the Shore,” McGee said.

McGee said Kent’s small stu­dent pop­u­la­tion heav­ily in­flu­ences the scores and rank­ings. She said it does not look like it went to Kent’s ad­van­tage this year.

Just a few stu­dents scor­ing bet­ter or worse can swing per­cent­ages with Kent’s av­er­age of about 135 chil­dren tak­ing one of the ex­ams ver­sus an av­er­age of about 1,819 stu­dents on each exam in Car­roll County or 8,509 stu­dents in Mont­gomery County. In Queen Anne’s County, the av­er­age was about 531 stu­dents tak­ing each exam.

McGee ques­tioned why, though, when the stu­dent pop­u­la­tion is so small, the district did not im­prove. She

said the district tracks stu­dent progress through­out the year.

“I’d like to see how that’s work­ing, be­cause it didn’t show up on the test scores,” McGee said.

Couch said the district be­gins as­sess­ing stu­dents in September, to see where they are show­ing de­fi­cien­cies. The district con­sol­i­dated five el­e­men­tary schools to three at the start of the cur­rent school year, which Couch hopes will pro­vide greater op­por­tu­ni­ties for grade-level col­lab­o­ra­tion among teach­ers.

She agreed that the district’s size presents a chal­lenge, as one or two stu­dents can be the dif­fer­ence be­tween show­ing im­prove­ment on over­all scores or post­ing a de­crease.

“It’s not an ex­cuse. We have to be cog­nizant and mind­ful that all of us want to see every child suc­ceed,” Couch said.

She said the district also faces bud­getary chal­lenges that do not af­ford it the cur­ricu­lum sup­port larger dis­tricts have, mak­ing teacher col­lab­o­ra­tion all the more im­por­tant for suc­cess.

“I’m con­fi­dent that we’re on the right path to dra­mat­i­cally im­prove stu­dent per­for­mance,” Couch said. “We def­i­nitely have room to grow.”

El­e­men­tary Scores

The PARCC scores are based on whether stu­dents ex­ceeded stan­dards, met stan­dards, ap­proached stan­dards, par­tially met stan­dards or do not meet stan­dards. Our district rank­ings are based on the per­cent­ages of stu­dents who met or ex­ceeded stan­dards.

The Mary­land Report Card made it im­pos­si­ble to de­ter­mine some num­bers be­cause it did not report hard data when the to­tal was less than or equal to 5 per­cent of stu­dents. If less than or equal to 5 per­cent of stu­dents ex­ceeded stan­dards and an­other less than or equal to 5 per­cent did not meet stan­dards, such as Kent County’s al­ge­bra II scores, we could only make an es­ti­mate based on the other scores given.

Kent placed eighth on the Shore for English 3 with 24.8 per­cent of test-tak­ers meet­ing or ex­ceed­ing stan­dards. An­other 22 per­cent of Kent test-tak­ers ap­proached stan­dards. Worces­ter County topped the Shore and the state with 59.6 per­cent of test­tak­ers meet­ing or ex­ceed­ing stan­dards. Queen Anne’s was sec­ond on the Shore with 44.9 per­cent. Other high scor­ers in the state were Howard County at 55.9 per­cent and Anne Arun­del County at 55.8.

In English 4, Kent placed sev­enth on the Shore with 34.7 per­cent. An­other 21.8 per­cent ap­proached stan­dards. Worces­ter again topped the Shore and the state at 59 per­cent, with Queen Anne’s com­ing in sec­ond on the Shore with 53.2 per­cent. Howard tied Worces­ter for the top state score with 59, fol­lowed by Car­roll County at 56.5 per­cent.

Kent moved up to sixth on the Shore for English 5 with a 34.5 per­cent. An­other 30.9 per­cent ap­proached stan­dards. Worces­ter and Howard con­tin­ued to be tops in the state with 60.2 per­cent and 56 per­cent, re­spec­tively, while Tal­bot took sec­ond on the Shore with 50.5 per­cent.

In Math 3, Kent was sev­enth on the Shore with a 37.2 per­cent. An­other 25.5 per­cent ap­proached stan­dards. Worces­ter topped the state and the Shore with a 66.7 per­cent. Queen Anne’s came in sec­ond on the Shore with 58.1 per­cent. Car­roll with 66.6 per­cent and Calvert County with 64.1 per­cent placed sec­ond and third in the state, re­spec­tively.

It was sev­enth place on the Shore again for Kent in Math 4 with a 30.6 per­cent. An­other 33.1 per­cent ap­proached stan­dards. Car­roll, Howard and Calvert were tops in the state with 62.7 per­cent, 55.8 per­cent and 52.6 per­cent, re­spec­tively. Worces­ter topped the Shore with a 48.5 per­cent fol­lowed by Queen Anne’s at about 45 per­cent.

For Math 5, Kent was sev­enth on the Shore with a 22.1 per­cent. An­other 32.1 per­cent ap­proached stan­dards. Queen Anne’s and Worces­ter topped the Shore with 48.9 per­cent and 48.3 per­cent, re­spec­tively. Car­roll was tops in the state at 61. 3 per­cent, fol­lowed by Howard at 52.5 per­cent and Fred­er­ick County with 50.1 per­cent.

Sec­ondary Scores

Kent came in sec­ond to last on the Shore with 23.8 per­cent of stu­dents meet­ing or ex­ceed­ing ex­pec­ta­tions for English 6 and an­other 37 per­cent ap­proach­ing stan­dards. Queen Anne’s topped the Shore and the state with 54.1 per­cent. Howard came in sec­ond in the state at 53.4 per­cent. Worces­ter was sec­ond on the Shore with 52.6 per­cent.

For English 7, Kent was sev­enth on the Shore with 33.3 per­cent. An­other 28.3 per­cent ap­proached stan­dards. Queen Anne’s was on top with a 69 per­cent and Worces­ter came in sec­ond in the state and on the Shore with a 61.8 per­cent. Howard was the third-top scor­ing district with 58.7 per­cent.

Kent slipped down to eighth for English 8 with a 28.8 per­cent. An­other 21.2 per­cent ap­proached stan­dards. Queen Anne’s, Worces­ter and Howard were the top three at 58.9 per­cent, 55.9 per­cent and 54.5 per­cent, re­spec­tively.

In Math 6, Kent placed sev­enth on the Shore with a 22.1 per­cent. An­other 27.9 per­cent ap­proached stan­dards. Queen Anne’s topped the Shore with 48.9 per­cent, fol­lowed by Worces­ter with 40 per­cent. Queen Anne’s was third in the state be­low Car­roll with a 49.5 per­cent and top-ranked Howard with 50.8 per­cent.

Kent was sixth for Math 7 with a 21.1 per­cent. An­other 36.2 per­cent ap­proached stan­dards. Car­roll, Fred­er­ick and Caroline County were the top three in the state with 46.6 per­cent, 42.7 per­cent and 42.6 per­cent, re­spec­tively.

Kent’s low­est score was in Math 8, with 4.3 per­cent of test-tak­ers meet­ing or ex­ceed­ing stan­dards. An­other 26.9 per­cent of test-tak­ers ap­proached stan­dards. Worces­ter topped the Shore and the state with a 45.7 per­cent. Caroline came in sec­ond on the Shore with a 34.8 per­cent. Sec­ond and third in the state went to Car­roll with 41.7 per­cent and Fred­er­ick with 37.2 per­cent.

In English 10, Kent ranked fourth on the Shore with a 52.6 per­cent. An­other 19.5 per­cent ap­proached stan­dards. Queen Anne’s topped the Shore and was sec­ond in the state with 66.5 per­cent. Worces­ter was sec­ond on the Shore with 55.9 per­cent. Car­roll was first in the state with 67.2 per­cent, while Calvert rounded out the top three with 66.3 per­cent.

It was back down to eighth place in al­ge­bra I for Kent with 25.5 per­cent. An­other 27.9 per­cent ap­proached stan­dards. Queen Anne’s was tops on the Shore with 56.2 per­cent, fol­lowed by Worces­ter with 49.8 per­cent. Howard, Car­roll and Fred­er­ick were the top three in the state with 62.6 per­cent, 62 per­cent and 59.6 per­cent, re­spec­tively.

Kent re­ceived its high­est marks on the al­ge­bra II exam, with about 64.9 per­cent of test-tak­ers meet­ing or ex­ceed­ing ex­pec­ta­tions. An­other 32.5 per­cent ap­proached stan­dards. Kent was sec­ond on the Shore be­hind Ce­cil County, which also ranked third in the state with about 75.1 per­cent. Mont­gomery County topped the state with 80.8 per­cent. Car­roll was sec­ond in the state with 78.4 per­cent.

Ups and Downs

This is the third year Mary­land stu­dents have taken the PARCC ex­ams. Kent stu­dents have shown growth over the first-year scores, but there were de­creases on a num­ber of ex­ams from last year in terms of the per­cent­age of stu­dents who met stan­dards.

The per­cent­age of stu­dents who met stan­dards in­creased from the 2015-16 PARCC ex­ams on four ex­ams.

On the English 4 exam, 28.2 per­cent of test-tak­ers in Kent County met stan­dards, an in­crease of 3.2 per­cent from the pre­vi­ous year. For English 5, the district posted 32.1 per­cent, a .9 per­cent in­crease. Of Kent’s English 8 test-tak­ers, 24.8 per­cent met stan­dards, a 6.6 per­cent in­crease over the pre­vi­ous year’s scores.

On Math 4, 29.8 per­cent of stu­dents met stan­dards, a 3 per­cent in­crease over the pre­vi­ous year. In al­ge­bra I, 24.8 per­cent of Kent test-tak­ers met stan­dards, a 2.1 per­cent in­crease.

Over all cat­e­gories, the district posted an av­er­age de­crease of 1.7 per­cent of Kent test-tak­ers meet­ing stan­dards on the 2016-17 PARCC ex­ams against those who scored at the same level the prior year. With an av­er­age of 135 stu­dents sit­ting on each exam, if about three more chil­dren had met stan­dards on every test, the district would have posted in­creases.

Kent showed de­creases in the per­cent of test-tak­ers meet­ing stan­dards on 10 of the 15 ex­ams. Queen Anne’s posted de­creases on four ex­ams, like­wise with Car­roll, a district that ranked high in the state. Som­er­set, fre­quently ranked on the Shore be­low Kent, posted de­creases on nine ex­ams.

The last aca­demic year was tu­mul­tuous for the district, no­tably as it worked through bud­get woes and clos­ing two el­e­men­tary schools.

McGee could not say whether such ten­sions may have played out in the class­room. She said those is­sues were on­go­ing from the prior year, but did not re­flect in the 2015-16 PARCC re­sults.

“I feel like that’s fall­ing into a trap of an ex­cuse,” McGee said. “There re­ally is al­ways go­ing to be some­thing. This year, it was the per­fect storm. I feel like ev­ery­thing was con­spir­ing against us. How much of that af­fected our test scores, the learn­ing that was go­ing on in our class­rooms, I couldn’t say.”

McGee is re­quest­ing the PARCC re­sults be on the Board of Ed­u­ca­tion’s agenda Sept. 11. She does not ex­pect to be pre­sented with a plan on how to im­prove scores at the meet­ing, but said she will want to hear one in the fu­ture.

“I just want to reaf­firm that I have a lot of faith in our su­per­in­ten­dent,” McGee said. “There are lots of ex­cep­tional stu­dents in our schools. I think our staff is great. But ob­vi­ously there’s some­thing that we’re miss­ing.”

PHOTO BY TR­ISH MCGEE

Kent County Mid­dle School Prin­ci­pal Mary He­len Spiri talks to twin brothers Sean Gallo, left, and Liam Gallo, on Tues­day, which was the first day of school for the sixth-graders. At far left is eighth-grade math teacher Tyler Moore.

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