More pupils meet achievement goals, but Hispanics, African-Americans lag

Teachers, new curriculum responsible for improvement, superintendent Smith says

Anne Arundel County

June 08, 2005|By Liz F. Kay | Liz F. Kay,SUN STAFF

More children in Anne Arundel County scored well on recent Maryland School Assessments than last year, although African-American and Hispanic pupils still lag behind their white and Asian-American counterparts.

Yesterday, Superintendent Eric J. Smith attributed the success at nearly all grade levels to expert teachers executing a new phonics-based reading curriculum and a new math program, which were established countywide in 2003.

"This represents in reading and math a hard shift in our basic philosophy in how we teach reading and how we teach math," said Smith, the former Charlotte, N.C., schools superintendent who was hired in large part to improve test scores.

He emphasized the achievement of teachers, who "adopted new strategies and really adopted them in a way that works for all kids."

Smith and other officials were particularly pleased that more pupils in all grades reached advanced levels on the tests.

But the county's middle-schoolers show room for improvement, he said. The percentage of seventh-graders reading at advanced or proficient levels declined slightly to 73.5 percent.

The sixth, seventh and eighth grades are going to continue to be a major focus, Smith added.

Smith celebrated the gains of eighth-graders. About 84 percent of African-American pupils left middle school in 2003 performing at basic levels in mathematics, which Smith called "appalling." Now that percentage has been reduced by almost half .

"It's still way too low, but the rate of increase, I think, is very dramatic," he said.

The county school system is also closer to reaching several academic goals earlier than the deadline officials set.

By 2007, the system aims to have 85 percent of pupils reach advanced or proficient levels on the tests. About 86 percent of the county's fourth-graders reached that target on the reading tests, with third- and fifth-graders not far behind.

Third- and fourth-graders surpassed the 85 percent goal on the math exam as well, and 81 percent of fifth-graders scored advanced or proficient.

Not all goals were hit. Another 2007 goal states that no subgroup's performance would vary by more than 10 percentage points from any other.

African-American pupils at every grade posted gains on both tests except seventh-graders on the reading test. In fact, 57.6 percent of black students reached proficient and advanced levels on the math test this year, an increase of nearly 21 percentage points since 2003.

Children who receive free and reduced-priced lunch showed a gain of about 20 percentage points, to 55.6 percent.

In reading, African-American, low-income and special-education pupils each had the largest increase since 2003 - more than 15 percentage points apiece. However, these pupils still lag behind their Asian-American and white peers; more than 80 percent of those groups scored at advanced or proficient levels.

Countywide, more than 60 percent of Hispanic pupils reached advanced or proficient levels this year in reading and math. Reading scores of Hispanic middle-schoolers went down nearly 10 percentage points for sixth-graders and about 7 percentage points for seventh-graders. But the sixth- and seventh-graders' performance on the math exam improved slightly.

Overall, fewer county pupils with limited English ability reached proficient or advanced levels on the tests this year and have posted the smallest gains since 2003.

However, Smith said the figures represent children who are very new to the language, because once they demonstrate English ability they are no longer included in that group.

Anne Arundel Middle Schools

This table shows the total percentage of Anne Arundel County middle school pupils who scored at advanced or proficient levels in tests administered as part of the Maryland School Assessment.

SIXTH GRADE SEVENTH GRADE EIGHTH GRADE

Reading Math Reading Math Reading Math

'05 '04 '05 '04 '05 '04 '05 '04 '05 '04 '03 '05 '04 '03

Anne Arundel 74.5 73.1 68.3 58.0 73.5 74.0 67.7 58.3 73.1 68.1 65.2 65.1 56.2 39.1

Annapolis 54.4 51.5 47.8 34.1 55.9 58.9 46.3 39.6 55.2 49.4 49.4 54.0 47.0 25.2

Arundel 82.2 78.6 75.3 59.5 80.5 77.0 69.1 67.3 78.8 71.5 69.7 69.9 54.2 33.1

Brooklyn Park 63.4 64.2 48.9 36.3 63.5 58.6 46.0 44.8 63.1 53.6 62.0 43.7 39.7 24.1

Central 88.0 81.5 81.3 67.9 80.8 81.4 80.8 66.9 80.3 73.7 75.6 77.8 65.9 51.4

Chesapeake Bay 76.7 67.9 73.5 60.9 74.7 75.2 69.5 58.9 77.0 62.6 67.2 65.7 52.8 36.5

Corkran School 69.7 65.8 64.7 51.2 73.7 67.1 62.7 46.4 66.3 64.1 66.4 51.6 50.4 30.8

Crofton 90.6 90.3 81.7 68.8 91.1 87.6 87.0 74.2 92.4 85.7 78.8 80.7 78.1 50.6

George Fox 69.3 74.4 68.0 59.8 68.1 74.3 59.8 65.3 67.7 66.9 59.9 67.7 48.4 29.9

J. Albert Adams Acad. 38.5 20.0 15.4 13.3 25.0 25.9 15.0 14.8 17.5 28.9 13.1 10.0 10.5 2.1

Lindale 66.0 66.8 57.2 44.8 63.9 68.1 57.8 45.6 63.3 64.3 55.8 51.4 49.1 27.5

MacArthur 68.2 67.7 59.5 48.2 67.3 66.7 58.2 41.7 72.0 70.4 55.5 55.1 46.3 34.3

Magothy River 90.2 90.2 90.2 77.4 85.5 90.9 82.7 84.3 89.7 83.9 82.1 88.1 82.9 76.1

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