County's school assessment scores increase

June 14, 2007|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

Student scores on Maryland School Assessment exams largely increased this year, marking the fifth consecutive year of improvement, Washington County Public Schools officials said.

Gains were seen in reading and math for fourth- through eighth-graders, according to state data. Third-graders scored below last year's results in both categories, but still were above 2005 scores.

"I feel good about our momentum," Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan said. "We're going in the right direction. It's a good thing."

The MSA exams are given to third- through eighth-grade students in reading and math. The scores are used to meet federal No Child Left Behind Act requirements. Under that mandate, all students must score at the proficient level or higher on state tests by 2014.

"As we get closer to 100 percent, it becomes more difficult," said JoEtta Palkovitz-Brown, assistant superintendent for elementary instruction.

Of Washington County's third-graders, 80.8 percent were proficient (61.6 percent) or advanced (19.2 percent) in reading, according to state data. MSA tests in reading and math were taken by 1,608 third-graders.


The school system ranked 15th out of the 24 school systems in the number of third-graders meeting or exceeding the state standard in reading.

In 2006, 83.3 percent of third-graders were proficient or advanced in reading - 2.5 percentage points more than in 2007.

Third-grade results also dipped on the math exams, with 83 percent of students described as proficient or advanced. The county's students rank seventh in the state in that category.

Last year, 85.4 percent of third-graders performed at a proficient or advanced level on that exam.

Schools officials said staff carefully will analyze the third-grade results to determine why scores dropped.

Nine of Washington County Public Schools' 12 reading and math testing results equal or exceed 80 percent, including the fourth-grade math result of 92 percent, which is the fifth-best result in the state.

MSA exams in math were taken by 1,620 fourth-graders.

School system officials said this is the first time more than 90 percent of Washington County students in a single grade have scored at a proficient or advanced level.

And 89.2 percent (1,442 students) of the county's fourth-graders (1,617) met or exceeded state standards in reading this year - an increase of 4.3 percentage points over 2006. Washington County is ranked 11th in Maryland in fourth-grade reading achievement.

Reading scores on the MSA exams for the county's fifth-graders (1,592) rose slightly over last year's scores to 81.7 percent proficient or advanced. The county ranks ninth in the state in this category, according to data at the Maryland Department of Education Web site.

Math scores among 1,596 fifth-graders rose from 74.8 percent last year to 81.5 percent scoring at proficient or advanced in 2007' an increase of 3.9 percentage points, according to state data - ranking Washington County 12th in the state.

Fifth-grade MSA math scores are up 22.5 percentage points since 2003. At that time, 41 percent of fifth-graders were performing at a basic level, according to state data.

Reading and math scores for the county's sixth-graders also are up slightly. Students meeting or exceeding state standards in reading increased to 81.3 percent, up from 79.5 percent in 2006. That is based on scores from 1,537 students and is the seventh-greatest percentage in the state, according to state data.

Sixth-grade students succeeding in math increased by less than 1 percentage point to 80.6 percent, according to state data. Washington County ranks sixth in the state in that category. That is based on results from 1,543 students.

Students in seventh and eighth grades showed similar gains in both subjects. Eighty percent of seventh-graders (1,308 out of 1,634) scored at a proficient or advanced level in reading, the seventh-greatest percentage in Maryland, according to state data.

And 78.6 percent met the same standards in math, according to state data, ranking Washington County third in the state in that category. Those results are based on tests from 1,641 students.

Eighth-graders scoring well on the reading MSAs increased 3.1 percent over last year to 79 percent, seventh in the state. Reading tests were calculated for 1,602 eighth-graders, according to state records.

The number of students meeting or exceeding the same state standard in math increased to 75.3 percent in 2007 - third in Maryland - from 74.6 percent in 2006. Math tests were calculated for 1,606 students.

While scores overall are up this year, the school system also had the largest number of schools boasting all students in a grade level scoring at a proficient or advanced level.

Five elementary schools recorded 100 percent scores, including Cascade (third-grade math), Boonsboro (fourth-grade reading), Clear Spring (fourth-grade math), Hancock (fourth-grade math) and Old Forge (fourth-grade reading and math), school officials said.

The MSA includes 10th-grade testing, but those scores will not be available until later this year.

An Adequate Yearly Progress report also will be available from the Maryland State Department of Education in August.

The Herald-Mail Articles