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County students' scores rise on assessment tests

June 16, 2004|by SCOTT BUTKI

WASHINGTON COUNTY

scottb@herald-mail.com

Washington County Public Schools students performed better on the Maryland School Assessment during the just-completed school year than in the previous school year in every tested grade level, according to results released Tuesday.

"Needless to say, I'm very pleased with the scores," Washington County Board of Education President Edward Forrest said.

"The scores are but one kind of indicator that our kids are learning at higher and higher levels," Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan said. She attributed the improvements in part to the system's excellent teachers.

Hard work by students and teachers is paying dividends, Morgan said at Tuesday night's school board meeting.

Students in grades three, five and eight had higher scores in the 2003-04 school year than in 2002-03 in the reported categories of reading and math.

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While 10th-grade students also did better than they did the previous year on the reading test, the results of the math test they took will not be released until late summer, said Robert Brown, coordinator of testing and accountability for the school system.

The scores reflect the percentage of students who met levels deemed proficient or advanced as opposed to those classified as basic, Brown said.

The higher reading scores reflect improvements the Board of Education made in elementary schools, including putting all schools on the same reading curriculum, Forrest said.

Maryland created the Maryland School Assessments as the main tool for measuring student achievement and school accountability. The assessments, given in March, replaced the Maryland School Performance Assessment Program.

The federal No Child Left Behind Act requires all schools, school systems and states to reach a designation, known as Adequate Yearly Progress, in reading and math.

The legislation forces school systems to measure the achievement of all student populations, such as racial groups, special education students and low-income students.

When last year's results were made public in August 2003, no school system met all of the proficiency standards required to achieve Adequate Yearly Progress in reading and math.

Since then, the Maryland State Department of Education has asked the U.S. Department of Education to consider two proposals that would affect how Adequate Yearly Progress is calculated for Maryland schools and school systems.

For example, when the designation was calculated last year, a special education student who received free and reduced-price meals would have been counted twice because the student fit two areas the governments want to track, Brown said. Under the proposed changes, that student would be counted once, he said.

While test scores were released Monday for schools and school systems, the Adequate Yearly Progress results won't be released until the federal government, working with the state Education Department, resolves some issues, Brown said.

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