HSA Passing Rate Improves Among All Racial Groups

September 17, 2004
The percentage of Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) students who passed the 2004 High School Assessments (HSAs) in algebra, biology, English and government reached the highest level since 2002, the baseline year.

Gains in passing rates ranged from 1.8 percentage points in government to 9.4 percentage points in English. The overall MCPS passing rates were 72.4 for algebra, 73.8 for biology, 65.7 for English and 79.1 for government.

The high student performance on the government assessment is of particular note because passing rates have improved each year. Also noteworthy is the improvement in English passing rates, considering the steady growth in the number of students tested. The number of limited English proficiency students increased from 61 in 2002 to 536 in 2004. The trend is often that as a greater number of students take a test, scores will decline.

The percentage of English as a Second Language students passing the tests was 40.2 for algebra (a 13.9 percent increase over 2003), 31.3 for biology, 20 for English (an 11.9 percent increase) and 39.3 for government.

Improved passing rates also were evident among students who receive special education and Free and Reduced-price Meals System (FARMS) services. Special education students gained in biology (37.1 percent passing), English (24.3 percent passing, a 7.4 percent gain over 2003) and government (43.6 percent passing), while maintaining their passing rate in algebra (31.4 percent).

Students in the FARMS program made gains across all four assessments, particularly in algebra (52.5 percent passing, an increase of 11.4 percent from the previous year) and English (35.8 percent passing, an increase of 11 percent). Their passing rate in biology was 47.7 percent and in government was 56.4 percent.

Gains in all ethnic groups

Impressive gains in 2004 passing rates were evident among all racial and ethnic groups, particularly African American and Hispanic students. While Asian American and white students improved on their already high passing rates, African American and Hispanic students achieved the largest gains relative to 2003 in algebra, biology and English, and had the second largest gain in government after Asian American students. In addition, increase in passing rates among African American and Hispanic students surpassed the countywide increases in every subject area.

Passing rates for 2004 and percentage increase over the previous year by racial/ethnic group are:

• African American: algebra 49.9 (+8.9); biology 54.8 (+5); English 42.2 (+14); government 64.8 (+2.5)
• Asian American: algebra 86.1 (+4.2); biology 84.8 (+1.4); English 76.1 (+7.4); government 87.7 (+3.4)
• Hispanic: algebra 54.1 (+12.2); biology 49.2 (+3.8); English 43.8 (+12.2); government 58.9 (+2.3)
• White: algebra 86.3 (+2.6); biology 86.9 (+1.9); English 81.5 (+9.6); government 89 (+1)

Starting with the Class of 2009, graduating high school seniors in Maryland will be required to pass these four assessments before they receive their diplomas. Students currently enrolled in Grade 8 will be the first class required to comply with this state mandate.

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