Press Release: Elementary, Middle School Test Results Reset Baseline For Students
Initial PARCC Scores Released in Reading, Math for Grades 3-8
For Immediate Release Contact: Bill Reinhard, 410-767-0486
Baltimore, MD (December 8, 2015)
Data released today for Maryland’s new elementary and middle school assessments set a new baseline that will help to gauge whether students are on track for the next grade. The data were presented today to the Maryland State Board of Education.
Nearly 40 percent of students in grades 3-8 taking the PARCC English Language Arts/Literacy Assessments last spring scored at a Level 4 and 5 combined – the two highest levels on the PARCC five-point score scale. Nearly 30 percent of elementary and middle school students attained Level 4 and 5 combined in the mathematics assessment. For students in grades 3 through 8, achieving Level 4 or 5 indicates readiness for coursework in English and math at the next grade, with the goal of preparing students to enter college or career upon graduation. The scores required to meet these thresholds were determined over the summer by Maryland educators and their peers around the country.
“These initial results provide a new springboard for Maryland students, as we continue our work to better prepare them for what lies ahead,” said Interim State Superintendent of Schools Jack R. Smith. “We have set the bar high, and this data reflects that. These results should be viewed in combination with other measures when assessing student progress.”
The initial score results for elementary and middle school mirror those released earlier for the PARCC high school assessments in English 10, algebra I and algebra II. Nearly 40 percent of high school students taking the PARCC English 10 assessment last spring scored at a Level 4 and 5 combined, while more than 30 percent of high school students attained Level 4 and 5 combined in algebra I. More than 20 percent of students scored at a Level 4 and 5, combined, on the new algebra II test.
Test results show some variations between grades. Eighth grade English scores were the best, with 40.4 percent of students scoring a 4 or 5, while 6th grade scores were the lowest, with 36.1 percent of students scoring a 4 or 5. Variations were more pronounced in mathematics, where 36.4 percent of 3rd graders scored 4 or 5 in mathematics, but just 21.3 percent of 7th graders scored a 4 or 5.
Significant score differences exist between student subgroups. For example:
PARCC Mathematics, Grades 3-8: Overall, 29 percent of students scored at a level 4 and 5 combined; African American students, 13 percent scored at a level 4 and 5; Asian students, 60.7 percent scored at a 4 and 5; Hispanic students, 16.1 percent scored at a 4 and 5; White students, 42.4 percent scored at a 4 and 5; and students of Two or More Races, 34.3 percent scored at a 4 and 5.
Among students receiving special services, 5.5 percent of special education students scored at a level 4 and 5 combined; 4.7 percent of limited English proficient students scored at a 4 and 5; and 12.9 percent of students receiving free or reduced price meals (the federal proxy for poverty) scored at a 4 and 5.
PARCC English Language Arts/Literacy: Overall, 38.9 percent of students scored at a level 4 and 5 combined; African American students, 22.7 percent scored at a 4 and 5; Asian students, 65.3 percent scored at a 4 and 5; Hispanic students, 24.4 percent scored at a 4 and 5; White students, 52.4 scored at 4 and 5; Two or More Races, 46 percent scored at a 4 and 5. Among students receiving special services, 6.3 percent of special education students scored a 4 and 5 combined; 3.1 percent of limited English proficient students scored a 4 and 5; and 20.3 of students receiving free or reduced price meals scored a 4 and 5.
Results from the PARCC assessments will not be used for student or educator accountability this year. In the coming months, the State Board will determine how the data will be used going forward.
PARCC Hits the Reset Button
PARCC results cannot be compared with the Maryland School Assessment (MSA), which the State used for a decade, both because this is a new test and a different test. PARCC is the first assessment aligned to Maryland’s College and Career Ready Standards, which set a higher bar for student learning. The tests go beyond the old “fill in the blank” model of standardized tests by emphasizing the need for students to demonstrate critical thinking, problem solving, and clear writing.
These tests also will show growth in student achievement over time. For example, parents and teachers will better be able to determine if students taking the math and reading assessments in third grade are progressing in their understanding of the subject matter when they reach fourth grade and beyond.
The assessment uses a five-point score scale set by Maryland educators and others:
- Level 5 - Exceeded Expectations
- Level 4 - Met Expectations
- Level 3 - Approached Expectations
- Level 2 - Partially Met Expectations
- Level 1 - Did Not Yet Meet Expectations
The MSA results were based on the previous academic standards, which have not been in use since 2013-14, or earlier. The MSA had just three performance levels and were set at a less rigorous target.
The result: most students were considered proficient in the subject matter when Maryland adopted the plan for higher standards and more advanced assessment in 2010. This pattern of raising standards and creating new assessments has been in place in Maryland since the 1980s.
“Maryland continues to incrementally strengthen its learning standards, and we expect our students to improve dramatically overtime, as they have in the past,” Dr. Smith said. “With each new, more difficult target, our students and teachers have worked to make the grade. The end result has been better prepared graduates, momentum which must continue.”
Future PARCC test results will be available sooner as more students are assessed online. More than 82 percent of students took online assessments during the first administration. Paper-pencil assessments are available as needed in the first three years.
Complete PARCC elementary and middle school results for Maryland students will be available later today at MdReportCard.org.