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Washington County students' MSA scores up overall, eighth-grade reading down

July 15, 2008|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- Student scores on Maryland School Assessments rose this year, marking the sixth consecutive year of overall improvement by Washington County Public Schools students, officials said Monday.

Gains were seen in reading and math by third- through seventh-graders, according to state data.

Washington County eighth-graders showed improvements in math scores this year, but scored lower than last year in reading.

"Once again, Washington County Public Schools' Maryland School Assessment results are promising and demonstrate our system's commitment to provide all students with a quality education," Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan said.

The MSA exams were given to third- through eighth-grade students in reading and math in April.

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.

"These results reflect the hard work and efforts of students, staff and parents," Board of Education President Roxanne R. Ober said.

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Elementary scores

Among Washington County third-graders, 85.8 percent were proficient (68.6) or advanced (17.2) in reading, according to state data. That is an increase from last year when 80.8 percent of students scored proficient (61.6) or advanced (19.2).

The percentage of third-grade students statewide scoring at the proficient or advanced levels for reading was 83 percent this year, according to the Maryland State Department of Education.

The percentage of Washington County third-graders scoring proficient or advanced on the state math exams also increased to 85.6 percent this year from 83 percent in 2007.

Of the county's fourth-graders, 90 percent were proficient (61.1) or advanced (28.9) in reading this year - an increase from 89.2 percent the year before, according to state data. Fourth-graders had similar gains in math, with 92.4 percent scoring proficient (45.7) or advanced (46.7) on those exams. That was an increase from 92 percent the year before.

Washington County fifth-graders made a large gain in reading scores, with 88.4 percent scoring proficient (38.9) or advanced (49.5) in 2008 - up 6.7 percentage points from the year before. Fifth-graders also showed increases in math scores, with 83.4 percent scoring proficient (58.9) or advanced (24.5) - up 2 percentage points from the year before.

Four elementary schools achieved 100 percent proficiency in math and/or reading. They were Cascade Elementary (fourth-grade reading and math), Hancock Elementary (third-grade reading), Hickory Elementary (third-grade math) and Pleasant Valley Elementary (fourth-grade reading and math, and fifth-grade reading), according to state data.

Salem Avenue Elementary increased student proficiency in every grade for both reading and math, and Sharpsburg Elementary exceeded 90 percent proficiency in every grade for both reading and math, school system officials said Monday.

Middle school scores

Sixth-grade reading scores rose slightly in 2008 to 81.6 percent scoring proficient or advanced - up from 2007 when 81.3 percent of students had scores in those catgoeries, according to state data. A larger gain was seen among sixth-graders on the math exams, with 83.2 percent scoring proficient (41.8) or advanced (41.4) in 2008. That is up 2.6 percentage points from 2007, when 80.6 percent of students scored in those categories.

Reading scores were up 3.1 percentage points in 2008 among Washington County seventh-graders, according to state data, with 83.1 percent scoring proficient or advanced. Math scores also rose, and 81.2 percent scored proficient (52.5) or advaned (28.7) in that subject in 2008 - up from 78.6 percent the year before.

Eighth-graders who took the state reading exam in 2008 were the only group of Washington County students whose scores did not improve. Of the county's eighth-graders, 77.8 percent scored proficient (39.6) or advanced (38.2) in reading - down 1.2 percentage points since 2007, according to state data.

Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Instruction Donna Hanlin said officials are reviewing the state data and will be conducting additional research to determine what caused those scores to decline.

Eighth-graders improved their math scores, with 76.2 percent scoring proficient or advanced in that category - up nine-tenths of a percentage point from the year before, according to state data.

E. Russell Hicks Middle School increased student proficiency in every grade for both reading and math, according to school system officials. Smithsburg Middle had a 90 percent proficiency rate in five MSA areas in sixth through eighth grades.

"We all know that test results are but one indicator of quantitative improvement," Morgan said. "Nonetheless, our goal is to reach the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) standard of 100 percent proficiency by 2014."

High school test scores are expected to be released later this summer.

To access Washington County Public Schools overall Maryland School Assessment data, or view results for individual schools, to to http://mdreportcard.org.

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