County scores well on MSA

July 16, 2008|By John-John Williams IV | John-John Williams IV,Sun reporter

Howard County students continued to outpace the state average at every grade level in reading and mathematics for the Maryland State Assessments.

All 39 elementary schools achieved the more stringent local standard of 70 percent scoring at proficient or advanced in reading and mathematics, according to scores released Monday by the Maryland State Department of Education.

At the middle school level, every school achieved the local standard of 70 percent of students scoring at the proficient or advanced levels in reading. The local standarsd is a self-imposed goal set by the county school system. Fifteen of 18 schools achieved the local standard in mathematics.

"We work very hard in Howard County to use data to identify needs, to provide resources to support our classroom teachers, and to meet the learning needs of each child," Deputy Superintendent Sandra Erickson said in a statement. "These results indicate that our approach is working."

The MSA is used in part to determine "adequate yearly progress," the yardstick under the federal No Child Left Behind Act. AYP is used to determine whether children can transfer to higher-performing schools, and it can also affect federal funding to schools. The test results released Monday are open to appeals from schools and school systems.

Whether schools and systems made adequate yearly progress under the federal guidelines, as well as final MSA scores, will be released this summer, MSDE officials said.

Worthington Elementary achieved a first in Howard County, as 100 percent of the students performed at the proficient or advanced level in reading. It is the first time that a school has reached that mark in either assessment test, Erickson said.

"Worthington's performance is remarkable," she said.

Every elementary school in the county had at least 80 percent of students scoring proficient or advanced in reading. While every middle school had at least 78 percent of students scoring at the proficient or advanced levels.

In mathematics, 83.6 percent of middle school students scored proficient or above, compared with 81 percent last year.

At the elementary level, every grade except fifth achieved gains. Fifth-graders dropped off slightly, from 88.1 to 87.9 percent achieving proficient or advanced. Overall, almost 90 percent of elementary students scored at proficient or advanced levels.

"I don't think it was significant enough to require any change from what we are doing," spokeswoman Patti Caplan said about the fifth-grade slip. "We are seeing increases across the board. We don't just look at one year. We look at our progress over a number of years."

At the elementary level, all racial and ethnic groups met the local standard of 70 percent in mathematics. ESOL students at the elementary level made the greatest gains with 72.6 percent scoring proficient or advanced. Last year, 66 percent achieved the mark.

African-American middle schoolers increased by 5.7 percentage points, reaching proficiency with 62.7 percent. Hispanic students increased 7.1 percentage points, to 66.1 percent reaching proficiency.

School breakdown

For a school-by-school look at how Howard County students scored on the Maryland School Assessments, see the A section of today's Sun.

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