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Scores improve, but officials worry about the rate of progress in some areas

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Carroll County children continued to outscore the statewide averages across the board in all grades tested on the Maryland School Assessment tests, but local school officials remain concerned about the county's rate of progress.

"The good thing about No Child Left Behind is that you can't hide behind the averages," Superintendent Charles I. Ecker said yesterday. "On average, we're second in the state. ... But we have areas that we need to be concerned about."

Ecker said that while he was pleased overall with the system's progress, he is concerned that special education students are not making the amount of progress school officials deem necessary to keep pace with statewide accountability standards.

Special education students made gains in every category, except sixth-grade reading where scores dropped less than 1 percentage point with 43.6 percent of students passing. The largest gain for special education was in fourth-grade math, with 60.7 percent of pupils passing the exam -- a gain of 14.4 percentage points over last year.

Carroll showed steady progress at nearly every grade level tested in the reading and math categories, with seventh-grade reading singled out as the only area showing no improvement, according to statewide results released yesterday. Seventh-grade reading scores dipped 1.4 percentage points from last year, with 81.5 percent of pupils passing the test this year.

Fifth-grade and sixth-grade math pupils posted the largest gains. Results show 81.5 percent of fifth-graders passed the math exam, an 8-percentage-point gain over last year, and 70.9 percent of sixth-graders passed in posting an 8.9-percentage-point gain.

"Our scores are up across the board ... [but] just going up isn't enough," said Greg Bricca, the system's director of research and accountability. "It becomes an issue of the speed at which [scores] are increasing."

Bricca said that with increasingly difficult standards to meet each year, it is critical for school officials to maintain momentum behind the progress.

The federal No Child Left Behind legislation requires states to set increasingly tougher accountability standards each year, with the goal of having 100 percent of students passing statewide assessments by 2014.

Bricca said school officials in particular are concerned about the rate of progress in special education students and students with limited proficiency in English.

Both groups saw improvements over last year, but not at the rate that school officials had hoped to see, Bricca said.

"It becomes a game of catch-up once a group is below grade level," he said.

He added that both groups had performed below state standards last year.

"When we're looking at the raw data, we are seeing gains ... but not at the same rate or amount of progress that students without disabilities are making," said Stephany Savar, supervisor of special education. "But that's also the nature of having a disability. ... You may not learn at the same rate."

Savar said school officials would continue to assess the reasons special education students are not making gains at the rate of other students and implement remediation where needed.

"We spend a lot of time drilling down to the individual students" to assess their needs, she said. "It's really a matter of matching the needs of the student and the instruction."

Bricca said that while MSA results are a "high-profile" indicator of how well schools are doing, they are just one piece of the picture.

"There are other things that we're doing that indicate we're making progress as a whole," he said.

Carroll Elementary

This table shows the total percentage of Carroll County elementary school pupils who scored at advanced or proficient levels in tests administered as part of the Maryland School Assessment.

THIRD GRADE FOURTH GRADE FIFTH GRADE

Reading Math Reading Math Reading Math

'05 '04 '03 '05 '04 '03 '05 '04 '05 '04 '05 '04 '03 '05 '04 '03

Carroll Schools 82.1 80.2 70.1 86.6 84.9 79.6 89.3 85.5 87.2 81.6 84.6 78.3 76.2 81.5 73.5 67.4

Carrolltowne 87.4 89.6 76.3 92.2 93.1 84.2 92.3 87.1 89.0 87.2 88.4 85.5 73.8 88.5 82.9 69.0

Charles Carroll 71.9 73.1 50.0 79.0 80.7 70.6 92.7 74.1 90.9 68.5 77.6 68.1 73.7 84.5 60.8 59.6

Cranberry Station 82.3 75.5 67.0 88.6 79.4 76.9 82.8 90.8 83.9 80.6 90.0 74.5 73.2 82.0 62.2 63.4

Eldersburg 88.0 77.5 82.5 94.6 87.6 91.7 92.0 91.7 91.2 90.6 88.5 81.2 84.1 89.6 80.2 76.6

Elmer A. Wolfe 73.9 79.4 64.2 82.9 87.3 71.6 93.4 79.2 88.6 76.6 84.4 65.9 63.6 75.3 64.9 63.6

Freedom District 84.7 89.8 79.0 86.8 89.0 86.0 92.9 92.9 88.3 91.9 88.6 91.4 85.4 85.7 85.7 75.8

Friendship Valley 84.5 74.5 59.8 84.5 86.3 76.6 87.5 79.3 83.3 78.4 81.9 79.8 88.7 84.8 70.7 74.3

Hampstead 75.5 80.0 64.2 82.6 84.8 69.5 84.5 83.2 87.4 71.1 80.8 72.5 72.9 75.2 75.4 71.1

Linton Springs 96.2 81.8 71.4 96.2 84.5 80.9 90.1 85.2 85.6 76.8 85.1 76.9 80.4 82.9 67.6 72.4

Manchester 73.4 72.7 57.5 71.1 76.5 74.2 87.1 83.9 84.9 83.3 82.8 72.2 76.2 71.1 63.9 63.9

Mechanicsville 91.8 86.9 75.8 94.3 89.7 79.0 92.7 89.2 92.7 86.1 89.5 87.0 78.1 91.4 93.1 72.9

Mount Airy 90.2 90.2 83.6 92.7 90.2 86.4 98.6 93.3 93.4 86.6 NA NA NA NA NA NA

Piney Ridge 92.1 91.4 83.8 98.3 95.8 93.3 96.5 92.5 93.0 86.8 97.2 90.3 86.4 91.6 81.6 71.8

Robert Moton 66.7 57.7 57.6 77.2 71.5 68.2 65.7 70.0 67.6 68.6 73.0 77.8 62.4 61.4 66.7 54.6

Runnymede 77.7 70.2 61.5 82.2 85.5 73.9 88.3 79.6 89.2 79.8 76.1 70.9 69.6 74.3 66.0 58.4

Sandymount 80.5 86.3 74.2 84.7 92.6 87.1 91.6 96.7 89.4 97.8 87.1 69.7 69.8 82.8 71.8 61.3

Spring Garden 77.4 88.4 79.5 90.3 88.4 82.0 91.7 92.7 92.8 87.9 88.8 82.9 81.6 89.6 86.3 79.0

Taneytown 62.9 70.2 59.0 71.6 74.5 67.5 81.5 72.1 84.8 72.1 63.2 68.6 62.7 69.1 55.9 54.0

Westminster 88.7 77.2 67.6 90.7 64.6 75.2 84.8 83.2 75.0 73.6 84.0 88.4 85.9 79.3 73.5 64.7

William Winchester 80.9 81.0 64.7 82.6 90.5 76.9 90.4 73.3 90.4 81.6 86.6 68.8 71.0 85.3 65.4 72.2

Winfield 78.1 77.6 68.4 83.3 82.7 83.8 92.0 85.0 86.3 75.7 78.5 78.3 71.8 74.1 75.5 67.7

Carroll Middle Schools

This table shows the total percentage of Carroll County middle school pupils who scored at advanced or proficient levels in tests administered as part of the Maryland School Assessment.

SIXTH GRADE SEVENTH GRADE EIGHTH GRADE

Reading Math Reading Math Reading Math

'05 '04 '05 '04 '05 '04 '05 '04 '05 '04 '03 '05 '04 '03

Carroll Schools 82.8 80.8 70.9 62.0 81.5 82.9 65.2 64.9 82.9 78.2 75.9 61.9 58.5 52.3

Mount Airy 86.0 88.2 72.6 67.8 87.8 90.2 68.3 64.9 85.1 81.4 78.9 52.3 56.2 49.0

New Windsor 79.6 83.9 65.3 62.7 86.3 82.3 66.0 50.0 85.3 76.3 83.3 49.7 55.9 60.4

North Carroll 78.2 79.4 70.6 55.4 83.4 76.1 60.2 57.7 76.6 76.5 75.6 63.1 58.5 49.1

Northwest 73.8 73.0 65.4 46.3 74.7 76.9 48.9 54.7 79.5 68.5 60.6 52.0 43.8 34.7

Oklahoma Road 87.3 85.7 79.8 67.6 85.7 89.2 72.4 81.9 88.2 89.6 86.7 75.0 74.5 60.6

Shiloh 86.7 81.3 73.9 63.4 81.6 85.8 63.1 70.3 85.7 75.3 77.3 60.9 57.5 56.0

Sykesville 85.9 81.7 75.5 66.2 80.7 84.0 71.7 67.3 85.6 77.5 75.5 75.1 64.6 54.5

Westminster East 77.5 74.6 54.8 61.6 77.1 77.8 68.4 61.6 82.6 73.3 69.2 63.8 51.3 49.9

Westminster West 86.5 82.7 76.1 66.3 82.3 85.0 68.1 68.6 82.0 83.5 78.6 61.6 59.9 56.4

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