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Here's why scores on the PARCC test were so low for Maryland high- schoolers

Statewide scores released Thursday that reflect Maryland students' knowledge of Algebra I might have parents questioning why high school math scores are so low — especially when middle school scores were generally higher.

High schools across Maryland — even those generally known as high performers — had lackluster or poor results on the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers test.

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But some middle schools that feed into high schools showed test performances that were much higher.

School officials say that is because the best math students — in some cases nearly half the student body in some schools — take Algebra I in seventh or eighth grade, pass the test there, then move on to higher-level math courses in high school.

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For instance, at Ridgely Middle School in Baltimore County, 73 percent of students met or exceeded standards for Algebra I on the PARCC test. The standards set by the PARCC test are designed to keep students on track to graduate and ready to go to college or to a job.

Ridgely students go on to Dulaney High School, where the scores were far worse — less than 10 percent of Dulaney students met the standard. That means that students who did not take Algebra I in middle school are struggling with it in high school and that Dulaney might need to do more to help weaker math students meet the state standard.

The trend can be seen in other counties as well.

At Severna Park Middle School in Anne Arundel County, for example, more than 90 percent of the students taking the PARCC Algebra I test met or exceeded the benchmark. Yet at Severna Park High School, less than 25 percent met the standard.

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