Anne Arundel

Anne Arundel County students in every elementary grade posted marks of at least 90 percent in math and reading on the Maryland School Assessments, according to results released Tuesday.

School officials lauded the districts' gains in three of the four overall assessment categories and the fact that in all four categories, the percentage of Anne Arundel students passing the tests exceeded state scores by at least 4.4 points.

"Overall we're pleased with the growth we're seeing," said Anne Arundel Superintendent Kevin Maxwell. "We believe that our schools are continuing in the right direction. Our teachers and support folks, our principals, our parents and our students are all working very hard, and we believe the progress is a result of their work and an indicator that they're going to continue to grow and be more successful."

Many of the deficiencies in Anne Arundel were in reading.

Countywide, 86.5 percent of middle school students earned passing scores in reading, down from 87.4 percent the previous year.

"Middle and elementary school reading are two places where we really need to increase our focus," Maxwell said.

In middle school math, 82 percent of students passed, up from 78.4 percent the previous year.

Among elementary school students, 93.2 percent passed reading, up from 92.3 percent the previous year. In math, 93.8 percent passed, up from 92 percent.

Joe Burris

Baltimore City

Baltimore City's overall scores remained essentially flat from last year, when the system noted the first backslide in years, and students are now performing below the level they were two years ago.

In contrast to last year, when dozens of schools' scores plummeted 20 to 30 percentage points as the system heightened test security for the first time, the district noted fewer wild fluctuations in year-over-year scores. Sixteen schools are still under investigation for testing improprieties.

This year, the system also deployed independent monitors to every school, and several schools experienced notable improvements. The gains and drops all fell within a range of 10 percentage points or less.

"There is no question that these [scores] are legitimate," city schools CEO Andrés Alonso said during a news conference Tuesday.

About 67 percent of students passed in reading, a decline of roughly 2 percentage points from last year. The proportion of students who scored proficient or advanced in math rose slightly, by 2 percentage points, to 63 percent.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said that while the system's progress shows the fruits of reforms, the scores were a "clear reminder that we cannot take our foot off the pedal."

City school officials said the system will need to assess what is lagging in third-grade reading — a formative point in students' literacy development — particularly when the district's pre-kindergarten program is expanding. City officials also said that the scores have supported the system's focus on professional development around literacy.

School officials said the scores reflect their choices to devote the most time and resources in the last year.

A Saturday school program that Alonso created last year after the system's 2011 math decline focused on math, as have the last two years of summer school. This year, however, summer school has a literacy focus.