Carroll County elementary- and middle-school students scored higher as compared to other local jurisdictions on the PARCC tests, although many did not meet the new, more rigorous standards, according to data released Tuesday by the Maryland State Department of Education.
"Certainly, we always have to be pleased at the initial administration of the assessment," said Gregg Bricca, director of research and accountability for Carroll County Public Schools. "We're always looking for, at least in this initial administration, sort of where our curriculum shows strong alignment and then how we do relative to other students in the state as we set this new baseline. Clearly, as far as relative to other students statewide, I think our students performed well."
The score results for elementary and middle schools follow the release of math and English scores for high-school students in local jurisdictions last month. Carroll high-schoolers also scored higher than most other jurisdictions in English and math, though many failed to earn a passing score.
Last year was the first full year of implementation of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers in Maryland, as the state phases out the Maryland School Assessment and High School Assessment to align with Maryland's College and Career Ready Standards. Because of that, local and state school officials say this year's results set a baseline for student achievement.
Students were given ratings on a scale of 1 to 5, with 4 meaning they met expectations and 5 meaning they exceeded expectations. Scores of 1 to 3 meant they had not met expectations.
On the English exam, nearly 47.6 percent of Carroll third-graders, 51.7 percent of fourth-graders, almost 52.1 percent of fifth-graders, nearly 42.4 percent of sixth-graders, 47.9 percent of seventh-graders and 47 percent of eighth-graders in Carroll County earned a 4 or 5, demonstrating readiness for course work in the next grade level.
Comparatively, on the state level 38.1 percent of third-graders; 40 percent of fourth-graders and fifth-graders; 36.1 percent of sixth-graders; 38.6 percent of seventh-graders; and 40.4 percent of eighth-graders earned a 4 or 5 on the English assessment, according to test results.
On the math exam, 58.1 percent of Carroll third-graders, nearly 53.7 percent of fourth-graders, 49.4 percent of fifth-graders, nearly 47.7 percent of sixth-graders, almost 45.5 percent of seventh-graders and nearly 41.5 percent of eighth-graders earned a score of 4 or 5 on the assessment.
Statewide on the math exam, 36.4 percent of third-graders, 30.6 percent of fourth-graders, 29.9 percent of fifth-graders, 29.5 percent of sixth-graders, 21.3 percent of seventh-graders and 23.2 percent of eighth-graders received a score of 4 or 5 on the assessment.
"As we've given new tests, we expect fewer students to be performing at the higher proficiency levels, but as we move forward we know that, for instance, the 46 percent or so who got a 4 and 5 in grade 3 [English Language Arts] is not how we would expect our students to perform," Bricca said. "So as a baseline, relative to other students, I think that we're off to a strong start. We just now need to tweak so that we can have more students being successful as we move forward."
The school system will use the results to try to meet the needs of certain groups of students who might have not performed as high on the assessment as their peers, Bricca said.
For example, at all grade levels, students of low-income families who qualify for the federal Free and Reduced-Price Meal program scored lower on the English and math exams than other students. In addition, white and Asian students often outperformed their black and Latino or Hispanic peers, according to the results.
"Certainly with this baseline it gives us areas … to focus, to target interventions for students, to make sure every student has an equal opportunity to perform," Bricca said.
PARCC results will not be used for student or educator accountability this year. It is still undecided as to whether students in Maryland will need a particular score on the exam to graduate from high school next year, according to MDSE spokesman William Reinhard.
The state Board of Education will vote on whether students will be required to earn passing scores for the 2016-17 school year, he said.
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