State Assessment Scores Rise in Both Math and English Language Arts

Results of the latest Maryland state assessments found improvements in both mathematics and English language arts scores combined across the elementary and middle-grade levels.

The increase in the pass rate among Baltimore City students outpaced nearly all other school systems in the region, and was nearly twice the state average in reading on the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) tests.

Complete 2018 Maryland assessment results were released Tuesday in a presentation before the Maryland State Board of Education.

According to a press release:

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. 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.

The exams, which utilize materials developed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC), are considerably more rigorous than the Maryland School Assessment tests they replaced in 2015, and they are designed to provide students, parents, and teachers with a better idea regarding progress toward graduation and workforce readiness.

The Maryland assessments are scored on a 650 to 850-point scale, which has been translated and simplified into five performance levels, with level 1 set as not meeting expectations and level 5 set as exceeding expectations. Performance level 4 or 5 is considered ‘proficient’ on the assessment by the Maryland State Board of Education.

Other highlights of the 2017-18 administration of the Maryland assessments:

  • 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 were also significant, although Asian and White students made slightly larger increases.
  • Students receiving special services also improved scores in both reading and mathematics in grades 3-8, and some student groups scored major increases. The percentage of English learners scoring at level 4-5 on the English language arts assessments in grades 3-8 was up 3.4 points from 2017, and the percentages of both students with disabilities and students receiving free or reduced-price meals—the federal proxy for poverty—scoring at the levels 4-5 on the English exams in grades 3-8 also improved. In mathematics, English learners also made the biggest improvement, with the percentage of students scoring a level 4 or 5 in grades 3-8, jumping 2.1 percent.
  • Since the first PARCC-based Maryland Assessments in 2015, performance has improved significantly. The biggest mathematics gains have come in grades 4, 5 and 7, while the top English language arts improvements have been registered in grades 4, 7 and 10.
  • The percentage of students scoring at level 4 or 5 on the high school-level English language arts 10 and algebra I assessments fell back in 2017-18, but an MSDE analysis found this was likely due to a large number of repeat test takers on both tests.
  • 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. In 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.

Read the full press release for more information.