Thirty-three percent of students who took the test for English language arts (ELA) in grade 10 in Baltimore County passed the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career, or PARCC, test according to this year’s results. Statewide, the average pass rate was 42.7%, according to a letter from Baltimore County Superintendent Darryl Williams.

Baltimore County also saw one of the largest drops in math PARCC scores in the state, falling from 30.5% passing to 26.5% passing.

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According to data provided by the Maryland State Department of Education, there was no significant change in the percentage of students passing ELA 10 between last year and this year in Baltimore County. An analysis of the data by Baltimore Sun Media shows that most schools saw a percentage increase or decrease of less than 2 points. Analysis also shows, however, that since 2015, the pass rate for ELA 10 has fallen more than 5 percentage points, from 39% to 33.6%.

There were, however, a few outliers. Catonsville High saw a four-point increase in students passing ELA 10, Randallstown High saw a 6.5-point increase and Woodlawn High saw a 6.9-point increase. Conversely, Loch Raven High School saw a 7-point drop in the percentage of students passing ELA 10.

An analysis published by the school system shows that white students and Asian students in Baltimore County performed best on the ELA 10 test, with 51.5% and 61% of students in those groups passing. Black students passed at a rate of 19.7%, American Indian students at a rate of 20.5%, Hispanic students at a rate of 22.2%, Pacific Islander students at a rate of 35.7% and students of two or more races at a rate of 34.8%.

English learner students passed at a rate of 1.8% and students who qualified for free and reduced-price meals passed at a rate of 21.4%.

In a letter to the BCPS community, Williams said that, though he does not think a data set can tell everything there is to know about a student, the county must “re-examine our practices.”

“We can and must do better. Every one of our children is capable of learning, and it is our job to support their academic success,” Williams wrote.

Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. echoed Williams’ statement.

“I expect and demand excellence from our school system, and I know our parents and students do, too,” Olszewski said in a statement. “In my first budget we invested record funding in our schools. I’m confident that under the leadership of Superintendent Darryl Williams, we will see the results we expect for our children as we move forward.”

In response to the county’s math performance, Williams said in his letter the system will work on “completely overhauling” its math curriculum, raise staff awareness on issues of racial equity, and boost English language arts “by addressing the unique ways that students learn to read, and by ensuring culturally responsive instruction.”

His letter also states the 2020-2021 budget process is focused on “raising the bar and closing gaps.”

Baltimore Sun data reporter Christine Zhang contributed to this article.

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