Students Post Gains on MSA for Fourth Year

June 20, 2006
English Language Learners’ Scores Increase the Most

African American and Hispanic Students Make Significant Gains but Gap Remains

Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) students in elementary and middle school achieved their fourth consecutive year of higher test scores on the Maryland School Assessment (MSA), according to Maryland State Department of Education data released Tuesday. The biggest increase in performance came from students with limited English skills with some scores jumping as much as 18.5 percentage points.

On average, the combined proficiency of students in reading and mathematics indicates that 84 percent of elementary students and 74 percent of middle school students scored at the proficient or advanced level for 2006. Since 2003, the elementary level results have increased 12.4 percentage points and the middle school results have risen 9.8 percentage points.

“These test results tell us that our students are on the right path and that they are making progress every year. The scores show that the hard work of our staff is paying off with increased student performance,” said Dr. Jerry D. Weast, superintendent of schools. “At the same time, it is clear that we have plenty of work to do to close the gap and reach our goal of success for every child.”

Compared to last year, students posted a gain of 1.9 percentage points in elementary school and 2.9 percentage points in middle school. The largest increase by grade level was a gain of 8.5 percentage points in math proficiency for Grade 6 students. All grade levels reported gains in reading and math, with the exception of no change in reading in Grade 7 and a slight decline in Grade 8 reading.

The performance gaps continue for racial/ethnic groups with Asian American and White students scoring close to or above 90 percent in both reading and math, while African American and Hispanic students scored close to or above 70 percent. However, the achievement gap is narrowing as African American and Hispanic students continue to show higher levels of growth than their Asian American and White peers. The largest performance increase occurred in Grade 6 math where African Americans and Hispanic students posted gains of 12.2 and 13.5 percentage points, respectively.

Students participating in special services, such as the Free and Reduced-price Meals System (FARMS), special education, and Limited English Proficiency (LEP) services, also made gains. LEP students achieved increases of 17.3 percentage points in Grade 3 reading, 18.5 percentage points in Grade 4 math, 16.3 percentage points in Grade 5 math and 15.5 percentage points in Grade 6 math. The performance of students receiving special services continues to lag behind students who do not receive special services.

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