Students at Laurel High School performed far below their peers at the county and state levels on new standardized tests, according to results released by the Maryland State Department of Education on Thursday.
More than 79 percent of students at Laurel High failed to meet state-determined expectations on the new 10th-grade English test compared to 71 percent of Prince George's County students and 60 percent of Maryland students.
Less than 11 percent of students who took the tests at Laurel High met the standard for Algebra I compared to 20 percent of students in the county and 40 percent of students in the state.
"This is our first round of results for the challenging PARCC assessments, and we will be using these as a baseline to help monitor student performance," Kevin M. Maxwell, chief executive officer of Prince George's County schools, said in a press release. "Our goal is for all of our students to graduate college and career ready, and our strategic plan outlines how we will reach that goal. State assessments are just one way to measure our progress along that path."
Students in Maryland took the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers tests for the first time in the spring. Scores were given on a scale of 1 to 5: 1, 2, and 3 for students who failed to meet the new standards, 4 for students who met them, and 5 for students who exceeded them.
The new standardized tests were created by a consortium of 10 states and the District of Columbia to measure how students are faring against the Common Core standards, which Maryland's education department introduced into the state curriculum in the 2013-2014 school year.
Over the past few years, Maryland and 41 other states have adopted and maintained the standards to move beyond preparing students for high school graduation toward enabling their success in college and the workplace. As of the 2013-2014 school year, Maryland's high school graduation rate stood at 86 percent.
State officials emphasized that the results reflect the increased rigor of the new tests and that these first results set a baseline for a improvement.
"Why are we here?" asked the interim state superintendent of schools, Jack R. Smith. "Because we raised expectations considerably."