Carroll County Public Schools ranked No. 1 in math and second in English Language Arts among school systems in Maryland for the standardized tests called the PARCC, or Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers.

Carroll saw the biggest increases in Grade 10 ELA, rising 3.3% over last year to a total of 68% of students passing.

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Grades 3-8 ELA reached 60% passing, with an increase of 2.5% over last year.

CCPS was the top school system in the state for students passing Math grades 3-8 and Algebra 1.

In the Math 3-8 tests, 53.4% of students achieved passing. This was a decrease of 1.9% from last year.

No school system in the state saw an increase in Math 3-8 passing percentages, though some were found to have no significant change.

In CCPS, for Algebra 1, 59.9% of students achieved passing, representing no significant change over last year, but making the school system the best in the state.

“We have an outstanding school system, and we’re incredibly proud of our students and their supportive families, and also our educators and the work they do day-in and day out to meet our students’ needs,” CCPS Superintendent Steve Lockard said.

Lockard said that while the decline in math scores was “not terribly significant ... we recognize that we have some work to do." At the Sept. 11, meeting of the Board of Education, they expect to dive more into the data from the PARCC scores and revisit the growth targets they set last year.

“Every student in name and need is our mantra as we move forward,” Lockard said.

Supervisor of Elementary Education in Social Studies and Gifted and Talented Kendra Hart said CCPS has a lot to celebrate from the results.

After receiving the data, the next step is for CCPS to desegregate the data. After breaking the results down into different populations, they look at what can be done differently to improve scores.

“We try to target to see why those populations are not making progress .... once we find that out, we just start trying to bring our resources in and think about the teaching practices that we’re using,” Hart said.

“Although we have a lot to celebrate, we constantly check to see what we need to do differently, because we want all of our students succeeding. We celebrate the students that are making great success. But we aren’t successful until all of our students are successful.”

PARCC scores are ranked on a scale of 1-5, with a score of four or higher considered passing.

In 2018 in Carroll, 57.5% of students passed English and 55% passed math. Those scores represented 5.6 percentage-point increase over the previous year in English and a slight decrease in math of less than a percentage point.

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Carroll County Public Schools has historically landed in the top school systems in the state.

Statewide, ELA scores for grades 3-8 saw just over 2% increase in the number of students passing. That brings the state average for ELA 3-8 to 43.7% of students passing. High school scores increased also, about .2% over last year with an average of 42.6% passing.

In math, statewide passing percentages decreased in all grades except grade three.

This will be one of the focuses as the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) works to analyze the data.

“A major emphasis in analyzing math results has been initiated at the State level,” according to a news release from MSDE.

The scores were presented to the Maryland State Board of Education, the head of MSDE, Tuesday, Aug. 27.

The 2018-19 school year was the final year for PARCC testing in Maryland. They were first administered in 2015.

A set of tests called the Maryland Comprehensive Assessment Program (MCAP) will be administered to students in the 2019-20 school year. The tests will evaluate students on the same academic content standards as the PARCC.

MCAP is being developed by Maryland educators.

A year later, in the 2020-21 school year, this test will be computer adaptive, meaning a student will start out answering their level of difficulty depending on a student’s previous responses to questions.

PARCC was formerly used in dozens of states and when it was initially introduced, it was designed to be able to compare students across the nation, not just with their in-state peers.

The test began to receive criticism, some of it because the test is time-consuming and requires schools to dedicate several weeks of instruction time and computer resources to administer it, the Baltimore Sun reported.

Others praised the test’s rigor. They hoped that whatever replaces it would maintain the same high standards for testing career and college readiness.

Some Carroll Highlights:

  • The highest pass percentages were for students taking Algebra 1 in middle school. Because most students take this course in high school, that group is made up entirely of students considered to be on an accelerated track in math. All middle schools in the county achieved higher than 90% pass rate for students taking Algebra 1.
  • Not including middle school Algebra 1 students, the highest individual pass percentage for a testing group in Carroll was Spring Garden Elementary School’s third-grade math students, with a pass percentage of 80. That’s 36.3 percentage points above the state average for ELA in grades 3-8.
  • Right behind them, Liberty High School’s ELA Grade 10 test takers achieved a 78.1 percent passing rate. Hampstead Elementary School’s fourth and fifth grade Math test-takers and Mount Airy Elementary School’s third-grade Math test-takers achieved 78%.
  • All of the county’s seven high schools that are not alternative education programs ranked above the state average in both 10th grade ELA and Algebra 1 passing percentages.
  • Students who do not pass the 10th-grade ELA PARCC test may be administered the test in 11th grade. Westminster High School had the highest pass percentage for these second-chance test takers, with 63.6%. All six of the other county high schools had a pass percentage less than half for this group, with three showing less than a third of students passing ELA on the second try.
  • Liberty High School had the highest passing percentage for both 10th grade ELA and Algebra 1. Francis Scott Key had the lowest in both, but still ranked above the state average, especially in 10th grade ELA with a passing percentage of 55.3% compared to 42.6% statewide.
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