Middle School Student Assessment Scores Leave Room for Improvement

State Board of Education reviews the first operational scores for the PARCC assessments for grades 3 through 8.

The State Board of Education heard reports on PARCC assessments in their meeting today.

As reported in the Baltimore Sun, less than half of Maryland elementary and middle school students can pass the tough new standardized tests, a result school officials attribute to an overhaul of teaching and testing standards in the past several years.

The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) is the fourth type of assessment used in Maryland since the 1980s, and every time a new test is introduced, scores drop, Dr. Strader, Director of Assessment at the State Department of Education described.

Currently, a performance level 4 or 5 is considered a passing score on the PARCC assessment. The following were the results of the 2015 exam:

  • Math: 29% of students at performance level 4 and 5
  • English language arts: 38.9% of students at performance level 4 and 5

Introducing new assessments pressures local school board budgets. New testing regimes require additional teacher training, and in the case of the PARCC assessments, accompanied the adoption of the common core and a larger curriculum shift.

Chester Finn suggested better communication with parents about new student assessments during discussion between members of the State Board of Education.

The State Board‘s discussion of the assessment included concern over transparency and communication with students’ parents about the new assessment and the meaning of their child’s scores.

Questioning why we don’t have clearer and more specific reporting of PARCC scores to parents, Chester Finn asked Dr. Johnson of the Maryland State Department of Education to develop a better format for Maryland’s test score reporting rather than using the test’s standard reporting methods.

Why are we prisoners to PARCC? There should be a place [on score reports to parents] with a two-box option: Your child is/is not on track for college readiness and career.

Laura E. Weeldreyer, also of the State Education Board suggested that the Board review the format of next year’s reports to parents as they are being developed. Dr Johnson responded that they would bring them to the Board in April or May of 2016 for review.

For more information, see the full story from the Sun and these handouts from the State Board meeting.

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