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Schools improve test scores

June 23, 2004|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

Although Washington County Public Schools showed improvement on the Maryland School Assessment, so did all of the other 23 school systems in the state, according to results published on the Internet.

As a result, the Washington County school system's ranking dropped in some categories, Robert Brown, coordinator of testing and accountability for the school system, said Monday.

The percentage of Washington County students who met levels considered proficient or advanced as opposed to those classified as basic increased in each category in the 2003-04 school year compared to the 2002-03 school year.

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Every other school system in the state also experienced increases in at least some categories in the percentage of students reaching proficient and advanced levels, Brown said.

The school system's biggest change in ranking came in the fifth-grade math scores.

In that category, the system's ranking dropped from 11th for the 2003-03 school year to 16th for the school year that just ended, Brown said.

The school system plans to look into why that "considerable drop" occurred, he said.

Twelve of the 24 school systems in the state, including Washington County, listed improvements in all categories, Brown said.

The other 12 systems also had some improvements but not in every category, he said.

Maryland developed 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.

Since this year was the second time the test was administered, teachers had a better idea of what to expect, Brown said.

"Does that translate to automatically higher scores? In some cases it did not," he said.

Brown said he thinks it is more significant to compare Washington County's scores from last school year to those for this school year than to compare how it ranks against other school systems since the differences are often just minor.

"Are we headed in the right direction? Yes," Brown said.

The fact that Washington County ranked lower in some categories does not reduce the enthusiasm over the system's overall improvements on the tests, he said.

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.

It is unknown when the Adequate Yearly Progress levels for this year will be released because 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, Brown said.

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