Harford County elementary school students beat the state average in all six levels of Maryland Scholastic Assessment testing in the 2012 school year.
More local schools averaged 95 percent or above advanced or proficient in third, fourth and fifth grade reading and math than averaged below 80 percent in those categories, and many schools posted 90-plus averages in all six categories.
The leader in the latter group was Youth's Benefit Elementary in Fallston, the only local elementary school among the 33 where students at all three grade levels posted average scores of 95 above in both math and reading tests.
While she is "very proud" of Youth's Benefit's MSA performance last year, Angela Morton, the school's former principal, said Monday, "all of our schools are seeing growth, and that is the real success story."
Morton, who was promoted to executive director of elementary education at the end of the last school year, pointed out that while the scores of individual schools often fluctuate from one year to the next, most schools in Harford showed an upward path in 2011-12, with many more individual students moving from the proficient to advanced.
She also pointed out that going forward, a collaborative effort among teachers, administrators and students will be to move individual scores into the advanced category.
The elementary MSA math and reading tests are scored on a scale from 240 to 650, according to the Maryland Department of Education's Maryland Report Card website. While the benchmarks vary from test and grade by a few points, the third grade reading test, for example, has a scale of 388 or above for a student to be considered proficient and of 456 or above to be considered advanced in that subject.
Morton said there is more to teaching and preparing students than just scoring well on the MSA, which she pointed out is akin to an "end product" at the conclusion of an academic year, during which "we track performance with all kinds of assessments," as well as through an individual student's work portfolio.
Morton said the goal for teachers and students will be to continue to grow in the classroom, which she said should be reflected in future MSA results, as well as other student assessments.
"We are seeing results from all that hard work," she said.
The following is a grade-by-grade summary of Harford scores in reading and math with comparative scores in the Baltimore Region and neighboring Cecil County, as well as Montgomery County, the state's largest school district:
GRADE 3 READING: State average 85.0, Harford average 88.6: Third graders in Harford read at a proficiency level above the state average; however, when compared to other Baltimore area counties, the Harford average exceeds only Baltimore County at 88.3 and Baltimore City at 65.5. Howard County is first in the region at 91.7, followed by Anne Arundel County at 90.4. Carroll County is next at 89.9, and Cecil County third graders had a proficiency level of 88.9. Montgomery County's rate is 88.8.
According to the state, 2,785 Harford third-graders took the 2012 MSA in reading, with 2,468 scoring at the advanced or proficient level. Of 33 schools, 16 posted scores of 90 or better in third grade reading, while seven posted scores in the 70-80 range and one was below 70.
Seven schools posted scores above 90 percent - Churchville, Fountain Green, Hickory, Prospect Mill, Ring Factory and Youth's Benefit – with that group including first-year Red Pump Elementary School in the 95-plus group as well.
Nine other schools had scores between 90 and 95 percent: Bel Air, Dublin, Emmorton, Forest Lakes, Homestead/Wakefield, Jarrettsville, Meadowvale, Norrisville and William S. James. Dublin's score of 90.2 was up sharply from 78.4 in 2011.
Magnolia Elementary posted the only sub-70 score at 62.3, a decline from 69.1 in 2011. Six schools: Bakerfield, Darlington, Deerfield, Edgewood, Havre de Grace, Riverside and William Paca/ Old Post Road were in the 70 to 80 range. Several in this group, however, showed improving scores, led by Deerfield which increased from 62.4 in 2011 to 75.7 in 2012. Other improving schools included Edgewood, George B. Lisby at Hillsdale, Riverside and William Paca/Old Post Road.
Among schools that showed declining scores, but still stayed near the county average, were Joppatowne, from 93.5 to 88.8; North Bend, from 97 to 86.7; and Forest Hill, from 96.5 to 89.3.
THIRD GRADE MATH: State average 87.8, Harford average 89.9: Third graders in Harford also scored above the state average in math proficiency but, again, they generally were behind other school systems in the Baltimore area, exceeding the averages of only Baltimore City at 73.6 and Cecil County at 87.3. Carroll County let the region at 94.2, followed by Howard County at 93.8, Anne Arundel County at 93.1 and Baltimore County at 91.4. The Montgomery County score was 90.1.
According to the state, 2,789 third-graders took the math MSA in 2012 and 2,507 scored advanced or proficient. Of the 33 schools, 18 scored 90 percent or better, with six scoring below 80 and none below 70.
Nine Harford schools had scores above 95 percent: Emmorton, Forest Lakes, Fountain Green, Hickory, Homestead/Wakefield, Norrisville, Red Pump, Ring Factory, William S. James and Youth's Benefit.
Nine schools scored between 90 and 95: Abingdon, Bel Air, Churchville, Edgewood, Jarrettsville, Joppatowne, Meadowvale and North Harford. Edgewood's proficiency rate jumped from 69.2 in 2011 to 90.0.
Six schools were in the 70-80 range: Bakerfield, Darlington, Deerfield, George B. Lisby at Hillsdale, Riverside and Roye-Williams. Unlike its sub-70 performance in third grade reading, Magnolia Elementary's third grade math score was 87.1.
Among improving schools in third grade math were Meadowvale, from 85.4 to 93.9; Norrisville, from 83.3 to 95, North Bend, from 89.4 to 94.7, Halls Cross Roads, from 75.9 to 84.8 and William Paca/Old Post Road, from 72.6 to 80.2.
Significant declines included George B. Lisby at Hillsdale, from 86.0 to 77.5; Roye-Williams, from 89.8 to 75.0; and Forest Hill from above 95 to 88.4.
FOURTH GRADE READING: State average 89.8, Harford 88.6: Not only did Harford fourth graders finish more than a full point below the state average, they also fared worse than their counterparts in most other Baltimore suburban counties. Anne Arundel led the region with a 93.1 proficiency rate in fourth grade reading, followed by Howard, 91.7; Carroll, 89.9 and Cecil, 88.9. Harford finished slightly ahead of Baltimore County, 88.3, and Montgomery County, 88.8. Baltimore City had the region's lowest rate at 65.5.
According to the state, 2,468 of fourth graders scored advanced or proficient among 2,785 who took the MSA reading test. Among the 33 local elementary schools, 17 posted cumulative scores of 95 and above and nine others posted scores between 90 and 95, for 26 of 33 in the 90 to 100 range. Seven of the eight remaining schools scored between 80 and 90. Magnolia Elementary had the only sub-80 score at 77.7; however, that was an improvement of 4 points over 2011.
Schools with averages 95 and above included Abingdon, Bel Air, Churchville, Emmorton, Forest Hill, Forest Lakes, Fountain Green, Hickory, Homestead-Wakefield, Joppatowne, Meadowvale, Norrisville, North Bend, North Harford, Red Pump, Ring Factory and Youth's Benefit.
Schools with averages between 90 and 95 were Bakerfield, Church Creek, Darlington, Dublin, George B. Lisby at Hillsdale, Jarrettsville, Prospect Mill, Riverside and William S. James.
William Paca/Old Post Road showed a big gain from 78.5 to 86.8, as did Lisby at Hillsdale, where scores went from 84.3 in 2011 to 94.8 this year. Dublin Elementary had the largest decline, from a reported 100.0 in 2011 to 90.5 this year.
FOURTH GRADE MATH: State average 89.9, Harford 92.7: Harford County fourth graders easily beat the state average for advanced and proficient on the MSA math test, as did most of the Baltimore area's school districts. Both Anne Arundel and Howard counties' school systems posted averages of 95 or above. Carroll County's average was just behind at 94.6, and Baltimore County's average was just a fraction ahead of Harford's at 92.8. Cecil County's average was 92.7; Montgomery County's 91.2. Baltimore City's average was 79.6.
According to the state, 2,906 Harford fourth graders took the MSA math test in 2012, with 2,695 scoring advanced or proficient. Among the 33 Harford elementary schools, 25 of 33 posted averages between 90 and 100, all above the state average.
Schools with averages of 95 or above included Church Creek, Churchville, Emmorton, Forest Hill, Forest Lakes, Fountain Green, Hickory, Homestead/Wakefield, Joppatowne, Meadowvale, Norrisville, North Bend, North Harford, Prospect Mill, Ring Factory, Red Pump, William S. James and Youth Benefit.
The average at Church Creek rose above 95 percent, up from 81.5 in 2011.
Schools with averages between 90 and 95 included Abingdon, Bel Air, Dublin, George B. Lisby at Hillsdale, Halls Cross Roads, Jarrettsville and William Paca/Old Post Road.
Schools with averages between 80 and 90 on fourth grade math included Darlington, Havre de Grace, Magnolia, Riverside and Roye-Williams. Three schools had sub-80 averages, Bakerfield, Edgewood and Deerfield. Bakerfield's average fell to 76.6 from 94.6, and Edgewood's fell from to 74.6 from 85.0; however, both schools have small enrollments and fewer than 65 students took the test at each. Deerfield's 78.7 average was an improvement from 75.9 in 2011.
FIFTH GRADE READING: State average 89.9, Harford 93.1: Harford fifth graders were above the state average on the MSA reading test and again finished around the middle of the region. The average scores for Carroll and Howard counties were 95 and above, while Anne Arundel County's average was 93.9. Baltimore County's average was 91.4, Cecil County's 91.0. Montgomery County's average was 93.5 and Baltimore City's was 75.8.
According to the state, 2,696 Harford County fifth graders took the MSA reading last school year, with 2,511 scoring advanced or proficient. Among 33 Harford elementary schools, 26 averaged 90 or above, better than the state average.
Schools with averages of 95 or above included Darlington, Emmorton, Forest Hill, Forest Lakes, Fountain Green, Hickory, Homestead/Wakefield, Jarrettsville, Joppatowne, Meadowvale, Norrisville, Prospect Mill, Ring Factory, William S. James and Youth's Benefit.
Schools averaging 90 to 95 in fifth grade reading included Abingdon, Bel Air, Churchville, Dublin, George B. Lisby at Hillsdale, Havre de Grace, North Bend, North Harford, Red Pump, Riverside and Roye-Williams.
Schools averaging 80 to 90 included Bakerfield, Church Creek, Deerfield and Magnolia. Three schools had sub-80 averages on fifth grade reading, Edgewood, Halls Cross Roads and William Paca/Old Post Road. Edgewood at 75.9 and William Paca at 78.7 both had declines from averages in the 80s in 2011. Halls Cross Road's average declined to 73.9 from 79.7 in 2011.
FIFTH GRADE MATH: State average 85.3; Harford 89.5: Harford fifth graders beat the state average on the MSA math test; however, as with the state and the region, average scores were lower on the math test than the reading test. Carroll and Howard counties had averages of 92.2 and 92.6, respectively, while Anne Arundel's average was 91.4. Harford's 89.5 was better than Baltimore County's 88.1 and Cecil County's 85.6, as well as Baltimore City's 70.4 and Montgomery County's 87.6.
According to the state, 2,697 Harford fifth graders took the MSA math test last school year, with 2,414 scoring either advanced or proficient. Of 33 elementary schools, 17 posted scores in the 90 to 100 percent range, and 12 averaged between 80 and 90, with many of them sub-85. Four schools had averages below 80.
Schools with averages 95 or above on fifth grade math included Emmorton, Forest Hill, Forest Lakes, Fountain Green, Meadowvale, Ring Factory, William S. James and Youth's Benefit.
Schools with averages of 90 to 95 included Churchville, Dublin, Havre de Grace, Hickory, Homestead/Wakefield, Jarrettsville, Norrisville, North Bend and Prospect Mill.
Schools with averages from 80 to 90 included Abingdon, Bakerfield, Bel Air, Church Creek, Darlington, Edgewood, George B. Lisby at Hillsdale, Halls Cross Roads, Joppatowne, North Harford, Red Pump and Roye-Williams.
Deerfield's average of 69.5 in fifth grade math was actually an improvement from 54.6 in 2011, as was William-Paca's average of 73.1, which was up from 68.3 in 2011. Magnolia's average of 78.7 was a slight improvement from 76.6. The other sub-80 school was Riverside at 76.6, down from 77.8 in 2011.