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Winners and losers in the PARCC student test results

While some schools in the Baltimore region posted solid results on the latest round of state tests, most weren't celebrating.

Overall the pass rates are still low on the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, a test that has been given for the past two years to third- through eighth-graders in reading and math. High school students have to take the 10th-grade English and Algebra I test to graduate.

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The Baltimore Sun recently averaged the math and reading test scores to produce a single passing percentage for each elementary, middle and high school in the region. In Baltimore City, half the elementary schools had 6 percent or fewer students passing.

City schools CEO Sonja Santelises has acknowledged setbacks in trying to improve academics. But she has said that she believes the city's children have suffered because low expectations have been set for them, and that she plans to hold them to higher standards.

It is not just city school students who scored poorly. Of the 232 high schools in the state, only 51 had more than half their students passing the Algebra I and English tests.

At 360 of more than 400 middle schools in the state, fewer than 20 percent of the students earned a 4 or 5, which is considered passing. In Baltimore County, 12 of 27 middle schools have a pass rate of less than 20 percent. The county's top-scoring school was Hereford Middle School, which had an overall pass rate of 57 percent.

The results will soon matter for schools.

The Maryland State School Board is debating how much schools must improve on PARCC scores each year; the state must show progress under the federal Every Child Succeeds Act. One option under consideration would require that 65 percent of students pass the test in 2030.

Some school board members would like to set a higher goal, but several said at the meeting on Tuesday they have to find a middle ground between "aspiration and reality."

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