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Maryland School Assessment Results
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July 11, 2012
The Maryland School Assessment, or MSA, standardized test scores were released by officials yesterday. Students in third through eighth grades are required to take standardized reading and math tests annually. The test score news was good on the state level, but mixed for the city. WYPR’s Gwendolyn Glenn reports.
Lillian Lowery: Good morning, I love walking into good news.
Gwendolyn Glenn: Maryland’s new superintendent, Lillian Lowery’s good news concerned elementary students in the state increasing their proficiency in math and reading to nearly 90 percent. Middle school students’ reading scores dropped by more than one percentage point, but their proficiency in math rose by nearly three percentage points. School Superintendent Lowery.
Lowery: Middle school mathematics has had the most dramatic gain, jumping from under 40 percent proficient in 2003 to 76.2 percent proficient this year.”
Glenn: But even with the gains, Lowery says more work needs to be done.
Lowery: Asian and white students score well above 90 percent in reading and math. While African American students scored below 80 percent in reading and Hispanic students scored at 85 percent proficient, this is a gap we need to close.
Glenn: In West Baltimore at Gilmor Elementary School, city schools CEO Andres Alonso released local MSA test score results yesterday as well. He says 70 percent of the district’s schools met state-mandated achievement goals in math and reading.
Andres Alonso: One-hundred twenty made their goals in math. One-hundred ten made their goals in reading, but 100 made it in both subjects.
Glenn: But still, only 67 percent of the district’s students’ are proficient in reading, a nearly two percentage point decline from last year’s MSA results. City school students’ proficiency in math increased by two percentage points. But at 63 percent, that’s still far below state test scores. However, considering last year’s MSA scores declined in both subjects, Alonso says any gains are celebrated.
Alonso: We took a step back in math last year. We are now taking the first step forward in math again. Summer school last year was all about math because we knew math was the subject we need progress and that effort has paid off.
Glenn: Other gains Alonso cited include fewer students are performing below grade level and those with advanced skills have increased significantly. He singled out Gilmor Elementary as an example of how some poor performing schools are being turned around. Principal Felipe Jackson says his student test scores increased by nearly 20 percent in math and reading this year.
Felipe Jackson: Gilmore was the lowest performing school last year. There was a principal’s meeting where someone said this building was full of lemons and I guess we made lemonade.
Glenn: At the state education officials’ press conference and the city’s, the issue of cheating on MSA exams was raised. In previous years, cheating has occurred in the district during the tests, which prompted school officials to develop stricter guidelines and bring in monitors on test day to ensure the integrity of the exams. Superintendent Alonso.
Alonso: We’re the only district in the state that puts external monitors in the schools and secure the materials so that materials are not touched by one person… so, there is no question that these results are legitimate.
Glenn: Alonso says the gains the district has made in math are real and that the task now is to build on those gains. One step that he’s taking to improve the district’s dismal reading scores is to place the focus on reading in summer school programs this year. I’m Gwendolyn Glenn, reporting in Baltimore for 88-1, WYPR.
You can reach the WYPR Newsroom at firstname.lastname@example.org
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