How Suburban Counties' Students Performed

July 22, 2009

Here's a look at how schools in the suburban counties performed on the Maryland State Assessment tests.

Anne Arundel County

Anne Arundel County schools made modest improvements in meeting the federal benchmark known as adequate yearly progress. Four middle schools that had been on a school improvement program list - Annapolis, George Fox, Southern and Old Mill - met targets for the second year in a row and will be removed from the list.

However, five of the county's 19 middle schools (Marley, Magothy River, Corkran, Brooklyn Park and Wiley H. Bates), one elementary school (Germantown) and an alternative school (J. Albert Adams Academy) failed to meet the goal and remain in the school improvement program.

A particularly frustrating case for school system officials is Brooklyn Park, which missed the standard by just one student. The school, which met AYP targets in 2007-2008, would have exited the school improvement process had it met the targets for a second consecutive year. The school must submit a plan for improvement to the Maryland State Board of Education.

"It is certainly disappointing that we came so close to meeting the targets," said Brooklyn Park Principal Maisha Gillins. "But deeper than our disappointment is our collective resolve to do what is necessary to see that we address the needs of every student at our school so that every single one of them achieves their potential."

One of the school system's successes: closing the so-called "achievement gap." In the past five years, the performance difference on standardized tests has decreased between African-American students and their white counterparts, shrinking from 13.4 to 7.6 points in elementary reading, 12.8 to 9 points in elementary math, 18.5 to 10.9 points in middle school reading, and 21.5 to 19.4 points in middle school math. For Hispanic students over the same period, the gap has shrunk from 9.7 to 8.6 points in elementary reading, 10.2 to 5.3 points in elementary math, 16.8 to 10.6 points in middle school reading, and 15.1 to 8.1 points in middle school math.

"While I have been very clear that the ultimate goal continues to be the elimination, not the closing, of the achievement gap, I am very pleased at these results," Superintendent Kevin M. Maxwell said.

Anne Arundel students overall continued to improve on the MSAs. In middle school, 85.4 percent of students scored proficient or advanced in reading, a 4.5 percentage-point increase from the previous year.

The increase was 1.3 percentage points for math. The increases were more modest among elementary school students, with 91.4 percent of third-, fourth- and fifth-graders passing the reading exam, compared to 90.8 percent last year. Ninety percent of students passed the math exam, compared to 89.6 percent the previous year.

- Nicole Fuller

Baltimore County

While elementary and middle schools in Baltimore County saw gains overall, several stood out with major increases, while others experienced significant drops.

At Elmwood Elementary, for example, third-graders saw a nearly 21 percentage-point jump in math, while fourth-graders had an almost 12 point drop in the same subject. Similarly, at Mars Estates Elementary, third-grade students climbed about 17 points in math and reading, but saw decline of nearly 19 points in fifth-grade math.

Summit Park Elementary students had perfect pass rates for every level and test except fifth-grade math. Third-graders at Cromwell Valley and Jacksonville elementaries posted a 100 percent passing rate in reading and math.

While two elementaries - Halstead Academy and Riverview - were added to the state school-improvement list this year, two middle schools - Arbutus and Woodlawn - have come off that list.

As Title I schools, which serve large numbers of poor children, the two elementaries are now required to give parents the option of transferring their children to another school, according to district officials. Eligible Riverview students could transfer to Hebbville or Woodmoor, while those from Halstead could go to Carroll Manor or Jacksonville.

This year also marked the first of assessments for students at the new Vincent Farm Elementary, and for third- and fourth-graders at Imagine Discovery, the county's public charter school.

More than 90 percent of Vincent Farm students passed both subject tests at every level - except in fifth-grade math, where 84.2 percent did.

At Imagine, 64.5 percent of third-graders passed the reading and math tests, while 86.4 and 84.1 percent of fourth-graders passed the math and reading assessments, respectively.

- Arin Gencer

Carroll County

Overall, MSA scores in Carroll County remained flat. The school system's numbers were still high enough to remain among the top in the state.

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