Harford County school officials are pleased with its students’ scores on the latest Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers tests.
Scores in the county exceeded the Maryland average in every category except eighth-grade math on statewide PARCC tests, according to data released Tuesday.
“When we look at Harford County, we’re above state averages, that is a success,” said Susan Brown, executive director for curriculum, instruction and assessment for Harford County Public Schools.
In English, 47.8 percent of Harford students passed, up 2.3 percentage points from last year, while 39.5 percent passed in math, down 1 percentage point, according to data from the Maryland State Board of Education.
While statewide proficiency rose by 2 percentage points in English to 43.7 percent, math scores fell or stayed relatively flat at every level of elementary and middle schools.
It will be important to determine why scores across the state went down and see what needs to be addressed, Brown said.
“Overall we’re pleased with English/language arts, and we’ll dig into math to see if we can get scores to increase,” said Phil Snyder, supervisor of accountability for Harford County Public Schools. “We’ll continue to do our best to prepare our students.”
Snyder said he was “pretty please” with reading scores. “Any time we can gain several points, it’s always good news there.”
He pointed specifically to third-grade English/language arts, where scores were up 3.5 points, the largest gain in the county. Those increases could be attributed to a new writing program implemented two years ago, Brown said.
Harford County was one of the last counties to administer the PARCC test online. Snyder said a one-to-one technology ratio, in which each student has access to a computer, may have also helped with test scores.
“It’s not everywhere at all grade levels yet, but there has been more emphasis on proper use of technology in our instruction,” Snyder said.
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Harford is moving in the right direction in reading but always wants to keep improving, so they will look at the data and see where that can be done.
Harford’s math scores were up among third-graders, with “not significant” drops of half a point in fourth and fifth grades, Snyder said, still above the state average, Snyder said.
Math scores in middle school get more complicated in terms of comparison because not all students test at the same levels, he said.
Maryland’s State Department of Education is introducing a new, shorter test this fall and spring called Maryland Comprehensive Assessment Program. The new state test will still focus on English and math as it has in previous years but with “new items developed by Maryland educators,” a state news release said.
PARCC was designed to align with the Common Core standards. The standardized national test has been criticized for being too disruptive and too time-consuming to the school schedule.