A statewide assessment of Maryland’s public school students showed signs of resilience in English language arts this spring, while also producing troubling scores in mathematics amid the coronavirus pandemic’s impact on education.
The Maryland Comprehensive Assessment Program, or MCAP, assessments were administered in the spring and showed students improved scores the most in English language arts. About 45% of third and fourth graders along with 40% of fifth graders tested proficient. At the high school level, 53% of students were proficient on a 10th grade English assessment.
These results are an improvement over a shorter state assessment collected in fall of 2021 and show a return to pre-pandemic outcomes for several grade levels, according to the Maryland State Department of Education.
Students also showed improvement in mathematics compared with the fall 2021 assessment, but officials noted that outcomes have not returned to pre-pandemic levels.
In 2019, about a third of students in grades three through eight passed the state’s math assessment, which has since undergone changes and is designed to be difficult. This spring, just 17.6% of sixth graders scored proficient in math and 6.5% of students who took the eighth grade assessment were proficient.
At the high school level, about 14.5% of students tested in Algebra I were proficient, a decline from 27% in 2019.
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“While we are seeing a return to pre-pandemic levels in ELA, we cannot be satisfied to return to what was normal,” State Superintendent of Schools Mohammed Choudhury said in a statement Tuesday, using the acronym for English language arts. “Normal was not good enough for our historically underserved and economically disadvantaged students. Emerging from the pandemic, achievement and opportunity gaps have only widened.”
Choudhury said the Maryland State Department of Education must provide guidance to achieve success for “all students at scale.”
“Even though we have much work to do, these early improvements affirm the active engagement and unwavering commitment of our teachers and school leaders in leveraging best in class and evidenced-based strategies to accelerate student learning,” Choudhury said. “We must do whatever it takes to ensure students reach their fullest potential.”
National data shows Maryland students experienced some of the sharpest drops in the nation between 2019 and 2022 in mathematics and reading.
Testing was halted during the early months of the pandemic when school buildings were shuttered and classes became virtual, but resumed during the 2021-22 academic year.
The MCAP scores offer a more detailed view of student learning in core subjects as schools recover from the pandemic. Before the pandemic, more than half of the state’s public school students regularly failed tests given in math and English in grades three through eight, as well as in some high school subjects.
State officials are expected to release more detailed data for each of the state’s 24 school systems soon.