Proficiency Rates for MCPS Students on Maryland School Assessment Continue to Climb

June 29, 2011
Gains Made by African American and Hispanic Students and Special Service Groups Further Narrow the Achievement Gap

Students in Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) continue to perform at high levels on the Maryland School Assessment (MSA), according to the latest results released today by the Maryland State Department of Education.  

Overall in 2011, MSA results for students in elementary and middle school surpassed the levels of proficiency attained in 2010, and—in many instances—achievement gaps between subgroups continue to narrow.  In mathematics, 88.7 percent of elementary school students and 79.6 percent of middle school students scored at the proficient or advanced levels, increases of 0.4 and 0.8 percentage points, respectively, since 2010.  In reading, 91.8 percent of elementary school students and 89.8 percent of middle school students scored at the proficient or advanced level, demonstrating increases of 1.3 and 0.7 percentage points, respectively, since 2010.

Percentage of Students Scoring Proficient or Advanced,
by School Level and Content Area
Content Area and School Level Percent Scoring Proficient or Advanced Change in Proficiency Rates from
2010 to 2011
2010 2011

  Elementary 88.4 88.7 0.4
  Middle 78.8 79.6 0.8

  Elementary 90.5 91.8 1.3
  Middle 89.0 89.8 0.7
Note.  Change is calculated from unrounded values and then rounded to the nearest tenth of a percentage point.

Within student subgroups, the largest gains were made among African American and Hispanic students and among students who participate in the Free and Reduced-price Meals System (FARMS) program or have limited English proficiency (LEP).

Highlights of Subgroup Results

Elementary School Reading:
o  Hispanic/Latino and Black or African American students showed the greatest increases in proficiency from 2010 to 2011 (2.4 and 2.1 percentage points, respectively).

o  Proficiency levels for the FARMS and LEP subgroups increased from 2010 to 2011 (3.2 and 3.4 percentage points, respectively).

Middle School Reading:
o  Black or African American students attained the largest overall one-year gain of 1.3 percentage points, followed by Hispanic/Latino students with an increase of 1.1 percentage points.

o  Rates for students receiving FARMS services increased 1.4 percentage points and LEP students increased 2.3 percentage points.

Elementary School Mathematics:
o  Students in the FARMS and LEP subgroups demonstrated gains from 2010 to 2011(1.0 and 0.3 percentage points, respectively).

Middle School Mathematics:
o  Black or African American students attained the largest one-year gain of 2.1 percentage points, followed by Hispanic/Latino students with an increase of 1.2 percentage points.

o  Proficiency rates for the FARMS subgroup rose 1.5 percentage points from 2010 to 2011, and LEP rose 6.0 percentage points.

"I am pleased with the steady growth in proficiency on the MSA, particularly by our African American and Latino students and students receiving special services," said Board of Education President Christopher Barclay. "That said, I am concerned that many excellent, high performing schools will be labeled failing unless there is a change in the NCLB requirements. While I look forward to needed changes in the law, the data show that MCPS has room for improvement. We must continue to focus on ways to help schools meet current federal standards and ensure that students are prepared for college and the workplace."

At this time, the MCPS 2011 proficiency rates for the Special Education subgroup are not available due to data coding errors.  The Maryland State Department of Education will recalculate the special education data and provide an update when completed.

Despite the steady upward trend in the percentage of student proficiency on the MSA, a greater number of MCPS schools this year than last are expected to fall below the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) level mandated by the
No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB). This is both a local and a national issue. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has said that until NCLB is updated and reauthorized, more schools will be labeled failing.

In Maryland this year, the Annual Measureable Objective (AMO) that schools had to achieve at the elementary school level rose 4.7 percentage points in reading to 85.9 percent and 5.1 percentage points in mathematics to 84.5 percent. The middle school AMO rose 4.8 percentage points to 85.6 percent and the mathematics AMO rose 7.2 percentage points to 78.6 percent. The goal for both levels is 100 percent proficiency by 2014 as mandated by NCLB.

Preliminary data for MCPS schools indicate 37 elementary and middle schools that will be in local attention, 14 in year one of school improvement, five in year two, three in corrective action and two that will be moving into restructuring planning.

In a memo to the Board of Education, Superintendent Weast wrote, “The irony of this stable and improving data is that it occurs at a time when more schools across the state and the nation are finding themselves on the wrong side of the AYP mandates of
No Child Left Behind.”


2011 Preliminary School Assessment Proficiency Rates
MSA Performance Trends
Preliminary AYP Data for MCPS Schools
MSDE Report Card

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