2nd Graders Post 5th Year of Higher CTBS Scores

May 24, 2005
MCPS Second Graders Post Gains on
National CTBS Test for Fifth Year in a Row

African American and Hispanic Students’ Scores
Increase 18 to 21 Points from 2000–2005

ROCKVILLE, MD – For the fifth consecutive year, Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) second graders posted scores higher than their predecessors on the national Comprehensive Tests of Basic Skills (CTBS), a new report shows.

Seventy-six percent of the scores were at or above the national average this year, up from 75 percent last year and 64 percent five years ago. On average, scores for MCPS second graders have risen by 12 percentage points on the CTBS Battery Index since 2001. The greatest increases by group have been among African American students (18 percentage points), Hispanic students (21 percentage points), and students receiving free and reduced-price meals (19 percentage points), according to the report prepared by the MCPS Department of Shared Accountability.

“Five years of steady progress is solid evidence that our early childhood reforms are working and are having a lasting, positive impact on our children,” said Jerry D. Weast, superintendent of schools, at a news conference to announce the results at Oakland Terrace Elementary School. “We believed if you put a quality teacher in every classroom, provided them with a rigorous curriculum, and gave students more attention in smaller classes, then student success would follow, and clearly it has.”

Oakland Terrace Elementary School has posted significant gains over the last five years and nearly eliminated the achievement gap between African American and White students on the CTBS. Eighty-five percent of White students’ scores were at or above the 50th percentile while 80 percent of the scores for African American students were at or above the 50th percentile. Over the last five years, African American scores at Oakland Terrace have grown by 45 percentage points, from 35 percent to 80 percent. Hispanic student scores have increased 22 percentage points, from 46 percent to 68 percent.

"These results show that we continue to make steady, sustained progress. Our reform efforts and targeted investments have resulted in improved performance and a closing of the minority achievement gap,” said County Executive Douglas M. Duncan. “We haven't finished the job, but we are making significant progress.”

Across MCPS, this year’s CTBS results are 9 to 22 percentile ranks higher than they were in 2001. This strong performance is taking place as the school district becomes more ethnically and socioeconomically diverse. For example, the White population has decreased by 21 percent, while the Hispanic population has increased 33 percent since 2000. The percentage of students who have limited English proficiency jumped 27 percent in the same period.

White and Asian American students continue to outscore more than 80 percent of students nationally in every category—reading, language, mathematics, language mechanics, and mathematics computation. African American and Hispanic students continue to outscore more than half of their peers nationally in every CTBS subject, with the highest performance in mathematics computation. Hispanic and African American students now have performances in mathematics computation at the 76th percentile, the highest ever for African American students.

“Every year it seems that our kids reach new heights and achieve more and more. This stellar record of academic success is a testament to the outstanding women and men who work with our students every day and to the parents for being strong partners in the education of their children,” said Patricia B. O’Neill, president of the Board of Education. “It is clear, that if we continue working together, we’ll stay on the right course and our kids will be extremely well prepared for whatever life has to offer them.”

One striking result is the number of elementary schools scoring above the 75th percentile. Such a performance places the average students in these schools in the top 24 percent in the nation. The percentage of schools performing at this level has doubled or nearly doubled in three of five CTBS subtests since 2001. In 2005, 93 percent of the elementary schools reached this height in the mathematics computation category, and 75 percent of the schools achieved this feat in language mechanics.

A complete copy of the report is available in the media packet and online at

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