Success in early years

Several area elementary schools recorded highest-recordable scores on the tests last spring.

Hillcrest Elementary School's third-, fourth- and fifth-grade classes each scored at 95 in both reading and math.

The third-grade class at Westchester Elementary also had at least 95 percent pass the math test.

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Scores higher than 95 are no longer released. Bill Reinhard, a spokesman for the Maryland Department of Education, said that federal privacy laws do not allow scores higher than 95 percent to be reported.

Percentages above 95 would make it easy to identify the very small number of students in that particular grade at that specific school who did not pass, he said.

In mathematics, 90.8 percent of the county's public elementary school students scored as passing, compared with 88.8 percent last year.

In reading, 90.7 percent of county public elementary school students scored as passing, compared with 88.2 percent last year.

"We have a lot to celebrate in Baltimore County," said county schools SuperintendentS. Dallas Dancein a news release. "Our overall student performance continues to be strong, and when we examine subgroup performance we see healthy growth in the percentage of students scoring at proficient and advanced levels."

Baltimore County outperformed Montgomery County in the percent of elementary students scoring proficient or advanced in mathematics but trailed Anne Arundel, Howard and Montgomery counties in elementary school reading and middle-school mathematics and reading.

But Schaffer said several factors must be considered when looking at the scores.

"One of the things you have to look at is the stability of the population. That's one of the things that impacts schools," he said.

The second thing, which is less acknowledged, is how often teachers change," Schaffer said. "Secondarily, you have to look at how often they're absent. You also have to look at student absenteeism." .

State, county and local school MSA data are available on the Maryland State Department of Education's website at