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MCPS Students Continue to Make Gains on PARCC Assessments

Data released by the Maryland State Department of Education show that Montgomery County Public Schools students continue to make gains in performance and continue to outperform their peers across the state on the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career assessments.

Student performance in English Language Arts (ELA) Grades 3-5 showed continued gains over the last two years where MCPS students also outperformed the state. More than 50 percent of students in Grades 3-5 scored at a performance level of 4 and 5, posting a 5.4 percentage point increase since 2015. More than 51 percent of students in Grades 6-8 scored at a performance level of 4 and 5.

"The PARCC assessments are one of several important measures that help us monitor student progress and achievement,” said MCPS Superintendent Jack Smith. “We are pleased to see continued gains in student participation and performance. However, we know more must be done to ensure all students have the access, opportunity and intentional instruction they need to be successful."

Statewide, the percent of students attaining a performance level 4 or 5 on English Language Arts exams, grades 3-8, improved one percentage point over last school year to 41.6 points, according to MSDE. The percent of students scoring at performance level 4 or 5 on mathematics, grades 3-8, also increased one point to 34.1 points.

“These results show modest progress in both reading and math at the elementary and middle school levels,” said Dr. Karen Salmon, State Superintendent of Schools. “Educators use this information in combination with class work, independently administered assessments, and other academic data to build instruction geared toward individual students. Important efforts to improve students’ performance are taking place in our classrooms, and we all recognize that more work needs to be done.”

Statewide, improvements on English Language Arts assessments in grades 3-8 by African American students (up 1.6 percentage points from 2017 at levels 4-5) and Hispanic students (up 1.4 points) outpaced that of Asian students (up 0.6 points) and White students (up 1.3 points). African American and Hispanic student improvement on mathematics exams in grades 3-8 was also significant, although Asian and White students made slightly larger increases.

MCPS student performance in mathematics Grades 3-5 showed an improvement from last year where 50.2 percent of students scored at a performance level of 4 or 5, outperforming their state peers by 10.8 percentage points (39.5). Students in mathematics Grades 6-8 showed a slight increase of 0.9 points from 2015, with 33.7 percent of students scoring at a performance level of 4 and 5 (26.9 state average). Although mathematics Grades 6-8 results were mixed, middle school Algebra 1 participation and performance increased as students were given the opportunity and access to the Algebra 1 course before high school.

Middle school Algebra 1 PARCC participation reached a historic high in 2018 as the number of students earning valid scores climbed to 10,918, a 65.9 percent increase (4,337 more valid scores) over the number of valid scores in 2015. Increases in the numbers of PARCC Algebra 1 participants were greatest in Grade 8, particularly among Black or African American and Hispanic students, students who received English Speakers of Other Languages services, Free and Reduced-price Meals Systems services, and students who received special education services.

Algebra 1 PARCC participation among Grade 8 African American and Hispanic students increased 97.1 percent and 110.7 percent, respectively, between 2015 and 2018. Among Grade 8 students who received FARMS services, Algebra 1 PARCC participation increased 102.1 percent between 2015 and 2018, and for special education students, Algebra 1 PARCC participation increased by 196.4 percent. ESOL student participation has increased by 174.5 percent since 2015.

Increased participation in the PARCC Algebra 1 assessment coincided with increased numbers of students earning scores at performance levels 3 or higher. Overall, 3,179 more middle school students and 2,694 Grade 8 students earned scores at performance levels 3 or higher in 2018 compared with the numbers in 2015.

Thirteen of Maryland’s 24 school systems saw improvements in elementary and middle school English language arts. Three counties had improvements of more than five percentage points. On mathematics, grades 3-8, ten school systems showed significant improvement in the percentage of students scoring at level 4-5, while 15 recorded no significant change and no school system had a decrease.

2018 was the second year that students needed to meet a passing minimum score to meet the Maryland High School Assessment graduation requirement for Algebra 1 and ELA/Literacy 10. Of the students taking ELA/Literacy 10, 76.6 percent of the students met the score of 725 or higher (a performance level of 3 or higher) and earned their graduation requirement, while 79.8 percent of middle school students and 40.5 percent of high school students taking Algebra 1 earned their graduation requirement.

The PARCC assessments are one of multiple measures MCPS uses to assess student progress and succes

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