MCPS Students in Grades K-2 Making Achievement Gains

August 18, 2008
National Exam for Grade 2 Students and Reading Benchmark Results Show Biggest Gains among African American and Hispanic Students

Number of Kindergarten Students Topping Reading Benchmark at Record Level

Early elementary students in Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) are continuing to make significant strides in reading, language, and mathematics, according to the results of a national assessment exam that measures the performance of second graders and an MCPS report that benchmarks reading levels of students in grades K-2.

More than 72 percent of MCPS second graders who took the nationally normed TerraNova Second Edition (TN/2) exam in spring 2008 scored at or above the national average. Student performance increased over last year in all demographic groups, but the greatest gains were made by Hispanic and African American students.

“It’s extremely encouraging to see the progress that our young students are making, across all subgroups, in these early grade levels,” said Board of Education President Nancy Navarro. “Results such as these indicate that the initiatives we are putting in place for students in the critical grades of K-2 are working and are building the foundation for sustained academic success.”

“There is much more work to do toward our ultimate goal of closing the achievement gap, but we’re making great progress in narrowing it, as the greatest gains are being made by our Hispanic and African American students,” said Dr. Jerry D. Weast, superintendent of schools. “These indicators are so important because the data are clear that they are great predictors of success on many later assessments and, ultimately, will set students on a path to high achievement.”

Overall, the 2008 TerraNova exam results show that more than 72 percent of all MCPS students in Grade 2 exceeded the national average, up from 69 percent in 2007. The percentage of MCPS Hispanic students topping the national average jumped 5.3 percentage points (from 48 to 53.3 percent) in one year. African American student results climbed from 50.8 percent to 56 percent.

Other positive results are shown in the MCPS reading benchmark assessments. End-of-year 2008 results indicate that 93 percent of all kindergarten students met or exceeded their reading benchmark levels at text level 3. A record number of kindergarten students exceeded the benchmark.

Figures for Grade 1 and Grade 2 show 83 percent of first graders and 70 percent of second graders meeting or exceeding reading benchmark levels—both record highs since the creation of the MCPS benchmarking system. In 2006, the end-of-year benchmarks for Grade 2 were elevated to include a more rigorous written comprehensive measure.

This year’s reading improvements also included record-setting benchmark attainment at text level 6 or higher for all groups of kindergarten students. Particularly noteworthy were improvements among African American and Hispanic students and students who are served in the Free and Reduced-priced Meals System (FARMS), along with special education students and those with limited English proficiency (LEP).

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