Middle schools lag on state tests

February 17, 1994|By Carol L. Bowers | Carol L. Bowers,Maryland Department of EducationSun Staff Writer

None of the 17 Anne Arundel County middle schools met the 1993 Maryland School Performance Assessment Program standards, and more than half the 76 elementary schools are far from meeting those skill levels, test results released yesterday showed.

Anne Arundel's experience was hardly unique, as few schools in the Baltimore metropolitan area even came close to a "satisfactory" showing in the tests, which are designed to measure how well students can apply their knowledge and how well schools are delivering the skills students will need in the next century.

Yet Anne Arundel school administrators were encouraged that even a small number of elementary schools are either close to meeting the state standards or, in a few cases, have already met them in one or more subjects.

"This is part of a plan to overhaul our curriculum -- to change what we teach and how. It's a slow process," said school spokeswoman Nancy Jane Adams.

"You can't just say to a teacher, 'Here's the goal, now do it.'

"We're planning to provide in-service [staff development] over the next three years" to help improve the test scores, she said.

A list of the county schools that were far from reaching the minimum standards for the revised state test was not available, although school officials provided a list of schools that met or were approaching the standards.

In Baltimore County, nine of 94 elementary schools reached the state standard for satisfactory performance in at least one subject. None of the county's 25 middle schools got a satisfactory score in any area.

In Baltimore City, scores were not broken down by schools, but by students. In all grades and subjects, the majority of students scored at the two lowest levels. More than 91 percent of third-graders taking the test, for example, earned unsatisfactory scores -- Levels 4 and 5. About 8 percent reached Level 3, one-tenth of 1 percent scored at Level 2, and none reached the highest level.

Among other metropolitan Baltimore counties, more than 50 percent of Carroll County students in more than half the system's 19 elementary schools achieved at least satisfactory scores.

In Harford County, none of the seven middle schools reached the state standard in any subject.

Scores for Howard County were not available.

Anne Arundel County officials said that, rather than dwell on the low scores, they were proud that third-graders at Benfield Elementary met standards in math, science and social studies. Reading test results were not measured for third-graders.

Among third-graders overall, students at three schools met at least one of the state standards.

Fifth-graders at Shipley's Choice also excelled, the only elementary fifth-graders to meet state standards in three of the four tests they were given: math, science and social studies. No fifth-graders met the state standard for reading.

Overall, 11 elementary schools met one or more of the state standards for fifth-graders, and five met two or more.

Among middle schools, only eighth-graders at six schools had test scores approaching the state's minimum standard in math: Bates, Central, Crofton, Old Mill North, Severn River and Severna Park.

No middle school had students approaching state standards in reading or social studies. Science skills were not measured.

The tests, given in 1993, will be used to provide baseline data. More than 13,200 Anne Arundel third-, fourth- and fifth-graders took the tests.

Test results from last year have been thrown out because the test has been revised, making it all but impossible to compare the results, Ms. Adams said.

State standards require that 70 percent of the students in a school perform at the top three proficiency levels for a school to get a satisfactory ranking.

Figures released by the school board yesterday show:

Third grade

* Nine elementary schools have more than 50 percent but less than 70 percent of their students performing in the top three math proficiency levels.

* Fourteen elementaries have more than 50 percent of their students but less than 70 percent performing in the top three levels in social studies.

* In science, 16 elementary schools have more than 50 percent but less than 70 percent of their students performing in the top three levels in science.

Fifth grade

* Six elementary schools have more than 50 percent of students but less than 70 percent performing in the top three levels of math.

* Nine elementary schools have more than 50 percent of students but less than 70 percent performing in the top three levels of social studies.

* Sixteen schools have more than 50 percent of students but less than 70 percent performing in the top three levels of science.

Eighth grade

* Six middle schools have more than 50 percent but less than 70 percent of their students performing in the top three levels in math.

ANNE ARUNDEL SCHOOL PERFORMANCE TESTS

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