Carroll, down for 3rd straight year, slips to 9th in state

Officials note `trend' of declining scores

January 29, 2002|By Jennifer McMenamin | Jennifer McMenamin,SUN STAFF

The MSPAP test scores released yesterday cemented what Carroll County school officials were hesitant to talk about last year.

"This kind of confirmed what we all didn't want to say last year," said Gregory Bricca, supervisor of assessment and accountability. "When we looked at the scores last year, there was not a clear trend but there were indications that we were declining slowly. We do have a trend now of declining [scores] in a large number of areas."

For the third year in a row, Carroll schools dropped in Maryland's annual pupil assessment exams last year, sinking to ninth place in statewide rankings.

With test scores falling in 13 of 18 areas, this marks the second consecutive year and the second overall since the Maryland School Performance Assessment Program began in 1993 that Carroll has placed outside the top four of the state's 24 school systems. Last year, the 28,000-student system ranked seventh.

The most recent MSPAP results also raised questions for Carroll administrators about the test itself. Other assessments - including the Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills, a national standardized test - show Carroll pupils improving in areas where MSPAP scores sagged.

Carroll's reading scores on this years CTBS increased in second, fourth and sixth grades, in contrast to the county's MSPAP reading scores, which declined for third and fifth grades and for the eighth grade remained lower than those of the other two tested grades.

"If you look at our eighth-grade [MSPAP] reading scores, you'd say that only 29 percent of our kids can read," said Steven Johnson, director of curriculum and staff development. "Well, we know that isn't true. Other tests judge things differently."

Countywide, the percentage of pupils who performed satisfactorily on the spring MSPAP tests fell to 50.7 percent this year from 54.1 percent last year, according to results released yesterday.

Across the county, third-graders performed the worst, with test scores dropping 3.9 points to 7.2 points in the six test areas: reading, writing, language, math, science and social studies.

Perhaps most alarming, as educators continue their push to improve reading scores among their youngest pupils, third-graders' reading scores fell 6.7 points.

Fifth-graders' scores dropped in reading, math, science and social studies, while remaining constant in writing and rising 2.3 points in language.

Eighth-graders recorded relatively minor gains in reading, social studies and science while dropping more significantly in writing, language and math.

Despite the drop, Carroll pupils continue to score above the state average, and Carroll ranked in the top 10 statewide in 11 of 18 areas.

Carroll middle schools scored well overall. Eight of nine ranked in the top 40 middle schools in the Baltimore area, with more than 50 percent of pupils scoring satisfactory. At the ninth, Taneytown's Northwest Middle, 40 percent of the pupils scored satisfactory.

Carroll County elementary schools

This table shows composite index scores for Carroll County elementary schools over the past seven years under the Maryland School Performance Assessment Program. The composite is roughly equivalent to the percentage of students who scored at a satisfactory level on the MSPAP tests. The last column shows the percentage point change since 1995.

..................01.....00.....99.....98.....97.....96.....95.....Chg

Maryland...43.7...45.3...43.8...44.1...41.8...40.7...39.6...4.1

County Average...50.7...54.1...55.4...56.4...55.4...55.3...51.1...-0.4

Carrolltowne...51.0...64.0...64.8...66.5...65.6...64.2...58.0...-7.0

Charles Carroll...48.8...60.4...52.5...59.1...49.1...51.9...46.3...2.5

Cranberry Sta....42.0...49.6...NA...NA...NA...NA...NA...NA

Eldersburg...55.7...56.6...64.0...51.6...52.2...54.4...47.6...8.1

Elmer A Wolfe...40.6...48.2...48.0...52.3...48.3...46.5...42.3...-1.7

Freedom District...53.4...58.3...60.7...63.9...61.5...58.1...52.8...0.6

Friendship Valley...51.4...58.0...60.6...68.1...59.3...61.4...49.5...1.9

Hampstead...46.9...50.1...55.0...50.9...56.7...51.9...51.2...-4.3

Linton Springs...50.5...43.0...47.0...NA...NA...NA...NA...NA

Manchester...43.8...48.7...52.5...47.8...49.3...49.3...45.9...-2.1

Mechanicsville...54.8...60.0...56.4...62.7...64.0...61.6...54.9...-0.1

Mt. Airy...58.1...56.4...59.8...53.0...57.4...54.2...50.9...7.2

Piney Ridge...52.9...47.3...51.8...51.7...51.3...54.7...38.0...14.9

Robert Moton...33.4...46.9...53.6...45.8...49.6...45.5...41.6...-8.2

Runnymede...42.1...51.8...45.0...49.0...50.9...42.5...38.3...3.8

Sandymount...45.5...46.8...50.8...56.9...52.4...59.8...55.6...-10.1

Spring Garden...54.3...66.7...65.1...61.5...54.4...56.9...53.0...1.3

Taneytown...32.6...35.6...40.6...44.1...41.4...34.6...45.1...-12.5

Westminster...50.4...50.6...54.8...57.9...53.4...53.9...52.7...-2.3

Wm. Winchester...50.7...48.2...38.3...47.3...45.1...47.8...39.9...10.8

Winfield...53.8...57.9...58.2...54.6...66.6...62.4...52.7...1.1

Source: Maryland State Department of Education

Carroll County middle schools

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