Friday, July 18, 2008

Garrett County Reading, Math Test Scores Continue To Rise

Jul. 17, 2008

Significant improvement in reading and mathematics scores was recorded on the Maryland School Assessment (MSA) for 2008, building on the consistent progress made over the past five years, according to data released this week by the Maryland State Department of Education.

Garrett County schools showed improvement in both reading and math across the board - from the third through the eighth grade - with the single exception of fifth grade math.

The 2008 scores for Garrett County when compared to those of 2007 were as follows:

Third grade: reading, 80% proficiency in 2007, 84.5% in 2008; math, 79.4% in 2007, 85.1% in 2008.

Fourth grade: reading, 87.6% to 93.7%; math, 89.7% to 93.1%.

Fifth grade: reading, 82.8% to 89.5%; math, 82.5% to 79.9%.

Sixth grade: reading, 78.6% to 87%; math, 72.6% to 84.9%.

Seventh grade: reading, 75.7% to 91.1%; math, 76.4% to 77.3%.

Eighth grade: reading, 72.6% to 76.4%; math, 70.8% to 76.1%.

All of Garrett County’s scores, with the exception of fifth grade math, also exceeded the averages for the entire state. The state score average for fifth grade math is 80.5%, with Garrett County’s score (79.9%) less than one percentage point behind.

Garrett County’s eighth grade math average score (76.1%) is nearly 15 points above the state average (61.8%).

The complete list for the state is as follows: third grade, reading, 83.0, math, 82.6; fourth grade, reading, 88.4, math, 88.5; fifth grade, reading, 86.7, math, 80.5; sixth grade, reading, 81.7, math, 75.8; seventh grade, reading, 81.1, math, 68.2; and eighth grade, reading, 72.8, math, 61.8.

Assessment scores across the state show marked improvement in the performance of students across racial categories and for students receiving special services. Scores are being expressed as the percentage of students in each system who scored at or above the proficiency levels set when the exams launched in 2003.

Composite MSA reading proficiency at the elementary grades has risen more than 24 percentage points in Maryland since 2003, while composite elementary mathematics proficiency has increased by nearly 24 points as well. Composite middle school reading proficiency has increased 18.6 percentage points since 2003, while composite middle school math proficiency has risen nearly 29 points.

State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick praised the continued dedication to educational excellence.

“Hard work in the classroom and strong grade-by-grade standards are really paying off for Maryland students, thanks to their efforts, as well as those of principals and teachers,” said Grasmick. “Our vibrant Voluntary State Curriculum has given birth to creative and consistent instructional programs. These scores tell us that schools are improving in every corner of the state.”

In addition to developing the highly regarded Voluntary State Curriculum, MSDE has bolstered school improvement through the Principals Academy leadership initiative, strong professional development, and a variety of teacher support programs for local school systems, according to a release from the department.

The percentage of students statewide scoring at the proficient or advanced levels for reading in grade three, for example, rose from 58.1 percent in 2003 to 83 percent this year. The percentage of students scoring in the proficient range for grade five mathematics rose from 55 percent five years ago in 2003 to 80.5 percent this year.

Results from recent assessments also prove that progress made in the early grades is being sustained as students progress through school. Reading and mathematics scores for third grade students have increased every year since the assessments were introduced. Middle school reading and mathematics scores have mirrored those improvements. Data show each class cohort scoring better than those in the previous years.

The results, according to a department spokesperson, also point to the importance of Maryland’s strong, centralized system of early childhood development, which has given many students “a leg up” on their studies.

“An increasing number of students are entering schools ready to learn, which has contributed to the consistently positive results in the early grades,” the spokesperson said.

Under the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) requirements, all students must score at proficient levels by 2014.

NCLB charts the progress of the overall student population in the grades tested, as well as that of students receiving any of three categories of special services: Free and/or Reduced-Price Meals (FARMs), Special Education, and Limited English Proficient. It also follows the success of students in five racial subgroups: American Indian/Alaskan Native, Asian/Pacific Islander, African American, White, and Hispanic.

“These test results show conclusively that our efforts have paid off for all Maryland students and their families,” Dr. Grasmick said. “Our goals remain in sight, and the data prove that great principals and teachers - providing focused, compelling instruction - are the best recipe for reaching them.”

There has been strong, consistent improvement among students receiving special services. For example:

•The proportion of Maryland students receiving Free and Reduced-Price Meals (FARMs) scoring in the proficient range in elementary school reading jumped from 40.9 percent in 2003 to 76.6 percent in 2008.

•The proportion of students receiving special education services scoring in the proficient range in elementary school mathematics increased from 30.5 percent in 2003 to 66.7 percent in 2008.

The test results are open to appeals from schools and school systems. Whether schools and systems made Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) under the federal guidelines, as well as final MSA scores, will be released later this summer.

Also scheduled for release at a later date are the 2008 High School Assessment scores, graduation rates, and attendance figures.

Statewide, system, and local school MSA data is available on the Maryland State Department of Education’s improved report card Web site:


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