PARCC scores show overall progress, school officials say
Individual results mailed to parents this week
Charles County Public Schools’ test scores show improvement, but more work needs to be done to ensure that students are college and career ready, school officials said this week.
“This is a positive year for us,” said Cliff Eichel, CCPS director of accountability. “We’re moving in a direction that we want to move. Do we want to be at the top? Yes, but we want to also make sure our students are getting the instructional program that they need and that we’re doing everything in the right way, and I think we’ve made some nice
District and school results for the second year of the Partnership in Assessment for Readiness in College and Careers, or PARCC, were released Tuesday by the Maryland State Department of Education. The test was administered in the spring of the prior school year.
Results show general improvement over last year’s scores, although the percentage of students whose scores meet or exceed expectations is still lower than state averages.
Scores are ranked in a five-scale system, with the lowest — Level 1 — indicating that expectations have not yet been met. Level 3 indicates the student is approaching expectations, while Levels 4 and 5 indicate the student has met or exceeded expectations, respectively.
Eichel said the scores indicate gradual improvement.
“What we’re continuing to do is reduce the numbers below proficiency. What we need to do is move our [Level] ones and twos to threes and fours,” Eichel said. “One of the big things that we did this year was to reduce the percent[age] of students at [Level] 1 and 2.”
Deputy Superintendent Amy Hollstein said the overarching goal is to move students up one proficiency level over last year. PARCC results show a general decrease in the lowest levels and an increase in higher levels, particularly in the elementary reading scores.
“You can’t expect in one year’s growth for a student to go from Proficiency 1 to Proficiency 5, but what you can expect is for them to make steady growth if your instruction is strong,” Hollstein said.
She said that last year’s scores served as a baseline for future progress.
“We were confident that with the changes that we’ve made in the curriculum and with the way that we’re instructing children, that we were going to improve from baseline, and we did that in most areas, and we’re expecting to do that further this [school] year,” Hollstein said.
She said that while test scores are an important indicator, they are also used to improve the instructional program.
“Our goal is to make sure that we are getting kids college and career ready. These scores help us know how we’re doing, but the classroom is the most important piece here,” Hollstein said.
This school year, the PARCC scores will be used as a graduation requirement, with students having to score a minimum of 725, or Level 3, in both English 10 and Algebra I. The requirements gradually increase until 2020, when students will have to score a minimum of 750 — Level 4 — on both tests to meet the graduation requirements.
Those standards would only apply to students taking the tests for the first time this year, and not students who had already taken the tests, Eichel said.
Had this year’s requirements been applied to last school year’s results, 34.1 percent of students would not have met the graduation requirement in English 10 and 43.6 percent of students would not have met the graduation requirement in Algebra I.
There will be alternate options for students who don’t pass the tests, Hollstein said, including the possibility of retaking the exams or completing a project-based assessment, the details of which are currently being determined by the state.
Eichel said he expects scores will be higher once the tests have actual implications for students.
“If this had counted last year, our scores would have been higher,” Eichel said. “This year, when they take the assessment, they’ll have some skin in the game, because this is their graduation [requirement].”
Individual PARCC results are being mailed out to parents this week. If parents have questions regarding the results, they should contact their school principal or teacher, Hollstein said.
Each school website also has additional information on PARCC scores, said school system spokeswoman Katie O’Malley-Simpson.
District and school PARCC scores can be found online at www. mdreportcard.org.