Yes, students in affluent areas do better on tests

November 17, 1992|By Sherrie Ruhl | Sherrie Ruhl,Staff Writer

Harford schools are moving steadily toward meeting statewide requirements by 1995, but there is still a wide disparity in scores between students in wealthier areas and students who live in poorer areas.

"Students who live in areas where there are higher socio-economic standards are going to do better than students who live in poorer areas," said county Superintendent Ray R. Keech.

Schools along the route 40 corridor might have a harder time attaining excellent or satisfactory standards because of the high number of transient pupils, Mr. Keech said. "There are more students transferring in and out of Havre de Grace and Edgewood and Aberdeen and the schools those children may not be as focused on passing these kind of tests," he said.

At Edgewood High School the number of students transferring in was nearly 13 percent and at Aberdeen High School the number was 12 percent.

Edgewood High 11th-grade students received a satisfactory rating in reading but did not meet satisfactory levels in mathematics, writing or citizenship.

Mr. Keech said it was possible that some scores at Edgewood High were incorrectly coded and therefore lower than they should have been.

For the county as a whole, ninth-grade students taking the test for the first time, dropped from excellent to satisfactory in reading and from satisfactory to unsatisfactory in writing.

Scores in citizenship climbed from unsatisfactory last year to satisfactory this year.

The county did not receive a grade in mathematics this year because it participated in a pilot program where students took the test as eighth-graders instead of ninth-graders. Last year, students received a satisfactory in mathematics.

Results for students in the 11th grade did not change, students received an excellent in reading and satisfactory in math, writing and citizenship -- the same as last year.

Following is a look at how other area school systems fared:

Anne Arundel County

Anne Arundel County schools gained ground this year in 10 categories in the state testing program, but still fell below standards in four of 13 categories.

The greatest improvements came in the number of first-time test takers passing the reading, math, writing and citizenship tests.

But even with the improvement, the percentage of students passing the citizenship and writing tests did not meet state standards. And Anne Arundel's dropout rate got worse, falling short of the standards.

Despite some low marks, Kenneth E. Nichols, assistant superintendent for instruction, said school officials are generally pleased with the scores and believe the county will meet all statewide test requirements by 1995.

Carroll County

Carroll school officials were beaming yesterday about their county being one of only two in the state to meet all 13 standards on the school report card.

Howard schools also met all the standards -- and did better than schools in Carroll. But Superintendent R. Edward Shilling noted that the amount spent per pupil is much lower in Carroll.

Although it ranks 12th in the state in wealth, Carroll County ranks 17th in per-pupil spending, at $5,076. Carroll would have to add $36 million to its $112 million budget to spend as much per pupil as Howard does.

Carroll again showed a low percentage of graduates who took a course load satisfying entrance requirements to the University of Maryland. Only 39.2 percent of Carroll students met those requirements, compared with 42.5 percent statewide.

Officials said they were not worried, however, because the county came in third in percentage of students who go on to four-year colleges -- 39.7 percent.

Howard County

Howard County schools ranked at the top again on the state's report card, passing all categories and earning a satisfactory mark for the first time for attendance among seventh- to 12th-graders.

It was the third consecutive time the school system came out on top in the state. "I'm especially pleased we met all the standards," said Michael E. Hickey, schools superintendent.

But "there's room for improvement in every one of the categories.

For the first time, the report card broke down test scores by race and gender. White high school students ranked highest in passing state functional tests, at 98.3 percent for males and females. Black male students ranked lowest, at 87.6 percent.

Mr. Hickey said he will study in detail the race and gender statistics to see how to implement programs in schools to improve student performance.

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