Scores plummet statewide in last Maryland School Assessment test
Wednesday, 16 July 2014 13:00

New Common Core standards not taken into account; students knew results would not count 

 by Bill Gates

    If student’s scores drop on a test that does not reflect what is being taught in the classroom, the results of which do not count and the test itself is due to be discontinued, does the resulting consternation make any sound?
    And does it make any sense for the tests to have been administered?
    The Maryland School Assessments released on Friday show the largest one-year drop from the previous year’s results since the MSAs began in 2002.
    Dundalk-Edgemere schools followed the trend, with all four middle schools and 11 elementary schools posting scores lower than 2013 in a majority of the tests.
   

(Middle schools test math and reading proficiency for sixth, seventh and eighth grades; elementary schools test math and English for third, fourth and fifth grades.)
     The MSAs, which are required by federal law, did not take into account dramatic changes in school curriculums the past school year due to the adoption of the Common Core standards.
    But they were administered this year, anyway, because, as mentioned, they are still required by federal law. And it cost around $9 million.
    Well, at least the feds agreed the 2014 test scores would not count. The students knew that, which some educators believe may be partially responsible for the low scores.
    The MSAs will be replaced next year with a new test, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC).
    The PARCC will be tied to the new Common Core standards introduced in the 2013-14 school year.
    Regardless of the circumstances for this year’s MSAs, it is a bit of a disappointment locally after the majority of area elementary schools exceeded the Baltimore County and state averages in 2013.
    This year, despite the overall drop in scores statewide, most Dundalk-Edgemere elementary schools fell below the county average.
    Four schools — Berkshire, Charlesmont, Chesapeake Terrace and Edgemere — were above the county average of 81.1 in third-grade math.
    Two schools — Charlesmont and Chesapeake Terrace — were above the county average of 80.1 in third-grade reading. Additionally, Colgate was essentially at the average  with an 80.
    It was a little better in fourth-grade math, where six schools (Berkshire, Charlesmont, Chesapeake Terrace, Colgate, Edgemere and Grange) were above the county average of 87.5 in math and five (Berkshire, Charlesmont, Chesapeake Terrace, Edgemere and Grange) bettered the county average of 88.6 in reading.
    Four schools (Berkshire, Charlesmont, Chesapeake Terrace and Grange) were above the county average of 79 in fifth-grade math, and four (Berkshire, Charlesmont, Chesapeake Terrace and Edgemere) were above the county average of 91.6 in fifth-grade reading.
    But only two local elementary schools improved their test scores in three areas: Colgate, which saw its third-grade reading and fifth-grade math and reading scores improve over 2013; and Logan, which had improved scores in third-grade math, fourth-grade math and fifth-grade reading.
    Local elementary schools bettered the county average in third-grade math, 81.8 to 81.1.
    They fell below the county average in third-grade reading (80.1 to 75.2); fourth-grade math (87.5 to 86.2) and reading (88.6 to 85.9) and fifth-grade math (79-77.3) and reading (91.6 to 89).
    In local middle schools, only Holabird improved its scores in more than one category: sixth-grade math and reading.
    Sixth-grade reading was the high point for all local middle schools, as all four schools saw their scores in this category rise over 2013.
    But their scores fell — often dramatically — in other categories.
    Scores dropped by an average of 24 points in seventh-grade math, 17 points in seventh-grade reading, 13.3 in eighth-grade math, 9.5 in sixth-grade math and six points in eighth-grade reading.
    Only Sparrows Point Middle topped the county average in sixth-grade math (65.4), and that was while it dropped to 67 from its score of 92.2 in 2013.
    No local middle school beat the county average (58.5) in seventh-grade math, and only Sparrows Point bettered the county average in seventh-grade reading (78.3 to 76.1).
    Despite dropping  from a 72.6 score in 2013, Sparrows Point’s eighth-grade math score (57.5) topped the county average (55.9), while General John Stricker’s equalled it.
    Sparrows Point also scored above the county average in eighth-grade reading, 79.8 to 77.3.
    On the other hand, students will wake up in September, meet the new tests coming out of the shower and will realize this was all a dream, right?
    For complete results online, visit www.mdreportcard.org.
    Due to privacy rules, scores published online may be different from data reported in this story. The state is not allowed to publish scores greater than 95 percent or lower than five percent.