New test results show kids in Maryland are falling behind in their preparation for college and careers.
That's according to the 2017 PARCC or Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career test results released on Tuesday. The test is meant to be a measurement of how prepared students are for their step after high school.
The test was implemented three years ago and was considerably more rigorous than the Maryland School Assessment tests they replaced. However, less than half of students grades three through eight passed the English and math exams.
In 2015, 39 percent of third through eighth graders passed the English exam. This year, 41 percent of students met or exceeded expectations.
In math, there was also an increase in passing grades from 29 percent in 2015 to 33 percent in 2017.
The biggest fluctuation is seen when the data is broken down by race and income-based assistance.
Students with free and reduced meals consistently scored the lowest and African American students were the most underperforming demographic.
“I think the numbers tell us we have some needs but the need isn't to do a crash course on taking a test. The needs that we see are students who are in poverty, and we have a lot of concentrated poverty in some of our areas, and we have to pull back those layers of the onions and look at what's impacting our students. Why aren't they succeeding academically,” said Cheryl Bost, vice-president of the Maryland State Education Association (MSEA).
The MSEA believes students’ poor performance is due to a lack of school funding.
“We need more staffing such as social workers, school counselors, and things like that to get students their basic needs before we can deal with their academic needs, which will then be shown on tests such as this,” Bost said.
Students in Baltimore City and County both scored below the state average.
Just 16 percent of students in the City passed the English exam and a little less than 12 percent passed math.
Baltimore City Schools CEO Dr. Sonja Brookins Santelises said the results reinforced the urgency of the work that needs to be done.
"Moving the needle in academic achievement takes time, but we must accelerate progress so that students are on track early and don't lose ground as they move up through the grades,” Santelises said in a statement issued by Baltimore City Schools. “Later this week, I will introduce a new blueprint for our work, designed to give the entire City Schools community a clear, comprehensive, and shared focus on students’ success.”
In Baltimore County, English scores improved, while math scores stayed consistent. Baltimore County Public Schools issued a statement on the latest results:
“While we are happy to see progress toward college and career readiness in English Language Arts, we are committed to preparing students for today’s mathematical standards and practices, which require not just problem solving, but reading, understanding, analyzing, synthesizing, and writing. This year’s priorities will help students develop these skills by strengthening literacy across the content areas, as well as building relationships and providing wraparound services that support positive school climates."
Harford County saw a decrease in math and English scores. Howard and Carroll counties made progress.
Overall, students in Howard County scored 15.9 percentage points above the state average of 41 percent.
“PARCC provides an additional indicator into student progress, and can be a valuable tool for supporting student achievement when used in tandem with other indicators such as elementary reading levels, SAT scores or AP performance,” said Interim Superintendent Michael J. Martirano in a statement issued by Howard County Public School System.
Moving forward, PARCC scores will be one measurement, among others, that the state will use to hold schools accountable.
To see the full results of the PARCC test for the state and individual school systems, click here.