Harford County public school students fared considerably better than their counterparts in the rest of the state on the new Maryland School Assessments test, according to preliminary results released Friday.
County students scored higher in all seven categories of reading and math tests than the state average.
They did particularly well in the reading part of the test, which is part of the federal No Child Left Behind Act, an effort to raise standards in schools nationwide and eliminate the education gap between students from different backgrounds.
Harford fifth-grade pupils scored 12.8 percentage points higher than pupils statewide on their reading test.
Seventy percent of the county's third-graders performed at or above the proficient - or passing - level on the reading test. In the state as a whole, 58.1 percent of the third-grade pupils scored in the proficient or advanced levels.
According to information released by the State Department of Education, four of the county's 32 elementary schools failed to meet progress levels set by the state: Deerfield, Edgewood, Magnolia and William Paca/Old Post Road.
Three of the nine high schools - Aberdeen, Edgewood and Joppatowne - failed to meet the progress level.
Four of eight middle schools - Aberdeen, Edgewood, Magnolia and North Harford - did not achieve the desired grade level.
School system officials said Friday that they would hold back on their evaluation of the test until they have the full results, which, they said, is not likely until Tuesday.
"On first blush, it looks like Harford students did pretty well," said Gerald E. Scarborough, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction, as he looked over charts comparing the county's overall performance with that of the state data.
But Carolyn Wood, supervisor of research and evaluation, said: "It is always hard to interpret test results without comparing them to something else. We haven't seen how the other counties performed."
Wood said the preliminary information indicates that "special education students, students with disabilities, did not fare as well as we had hoped."
"Special education has not reached the level of proficient," said Scarborough. "We are going to have to look at the data to determine which schools and which grade levels need improvement. Maybe the third grade has a problem and the fifth grade is doing fine. As of this time we don't know."
Scarborough said that approximately 12,000 students took the reading test and about 9,000 took the math test. The reading test was administered to students in the third, fifth, eighth and 10th grades. The 10th-graders were not required to take the math test this year.
The federal law requires that the total student population meet annual performance marks. It also requires sub-groups such as students living in poverty, those with limited English proficiency and ethnic groups to meet levels.
The Maryland School Assessment test replaces the 10-year- old Maryland School Performance Assessment Program (MSPAP), which was discontinued last year because it was designed to measure the performance of schools, not individual students.
Schools that fail to meet the state-mandated performance level two years in a row will go into a remediation process that can eventually lead to a state takeover.
This was the first test in a state program to move all students to proficient level in math and reading by 2014.
More information: www.mdreportcard.org.
Here is how the Harford test scores stack up against the state average in the percentage of pupils scoring at or above proficient levels:
....... ..... .. Md. Har.
Grade 3 65.0% 75.5%
Grade 5 55.0% 63.8%
Grade 8 39.7% 49.1%
Grade 3 58.1% 70.0%
Grade 5 65.7% 78.5%
Grade 8 59.9% 71.2%
Grade 10 61.4% 73.1%
HARFORD COUNTY ELEMENTARY
This table shows the reading and math scores for students in tests administered in the spring under the Maryland School Assessment (MSA) program. The number represents the percentage of students who scored at the proficient level or above in that subject. The final column, for "adequate yearly progress," shows whether students in all demographic groups met standards set by the state in each subject area.
..... ..........3rd 3rd 5th 5th Met
School Read. Math Read. Math goal?
Abingdon 75.4 78.9 85.8 70.8 Yes
Bakerfield 52.4 64.3 74.1 62.4 Yes
Bel Air 75.3 82.5 89.8 75.0 Yes
Church Creek 70.8 81.4 63.6 52.5 Yes
Churchville 79.4 79.4 81.4 61.0 Yes
Darlington 75.0 60.0 85.0 45.0 Yes
Deerfield 50.9 62.9 60.6 51.9 No
Dublin 58.7 67.4 75.0 50.0 Yes
Edgewood 52.7 63.5 68.0 50.7 No
Emmorton 83.2 89.1 83.8 59.0 Yes
Forest Hill 79.0 89.5 80.0 77.3 Yes
Forest Lakes 82.4 87.4 92.7 69.9 Yes
Fountain Green 82.3 91.1 90.6 74.5 Yes
George D. Lisby 57.4 63.2 78.6 58.9 Yes
Hall's Cross Roads 46.8 63.8 59.3 42.4 Yes
Havre de Grace 51.1 58.5 66.7 52.0 Yes
Hickory 71.7 81.8 81.2 67.0 Yes
Homestead/Wakefield 82.2 84.1 85.3 72.3 Yes
Jarrettsville 75.9 79.5 86.6 66.0 Yes
Joppatowne 59.5 69.4 59.8 47.4 Yes
Magnolia 52.1 50.5 49.4 45.8 No