Rigorous HS Exams Correlate to High State Results

April 29, 2003
High school students last spring who scored as low as a “C” on the semester final exams in Algebra, Geometry, and Biology for the Montgomery County Public Schools scored higher, on average, than 60 percent of all students in Maryland on the state's corresponding high school assessments in the same subjects.

In fact, students who scored a “D” on three of the county tests -- Algebra, Geometry, and Biology -- scored at about the 50th percentile statewide or about average for students statewide on Maryland High School Assessments. Somewhat lower results (at about the 40th percentile statewide) correlated to a “D” grade on the county's final exams in English and National, State, and Local Government.

Moreover, students in honors courses who earned a “D” on the Montgomery County semester exams in these subjects scored at or above the 60th percentile on the state exams.

These are among the findings of a new review by the Office of Shared Accountability of the correlation between the county's rigorous final semester exams taken at the end of the last school year in the same five core courses that were tested as part the state assessments in May 2002.

In December, results of the 2002 high school assessments showed that county students outperformed or matched all other school systems in the state in all but one subject area of the new tests, which are designed to examine the readiness of students for graduation. Moreover, the December findings showed that the performance of African American and Hispanic students in Montgomery County, while lower than their white and Asian classmates, nearly matched or outperformed some entire school systems on certain tests statewide.

In February, following a review of the countywide final exams, Achieve Inc. found that the county's semester exams were “high quality and align to both the district Frameworks and the state standards. As a result, students who perform well on these tests are likely to perform well on the corresponding state tests.”

The new study confirmed this assessment. The study showed that students in honors and regular classes who scored an “A” on the county exams outperformed 80 to more than 90 percent of all students in Maryland in the same subject areas. Students in honors sections who earned a “B” scored at about the 70th percentile on the state exams.

Currently, the state is working on determining the next phase of implementation for the Maryland High School Assessments, including the passing grades for each test.

The summary of the new study, including a correlation chart for each of the five exam areas and a report to the Board of Education by Dr. Jerry D. Weast, superintendent of schools, is available at the link below.

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