The good news: Statewide, more elementary and middle school students performed at levels proficient or better in reading and math on the Maryland School Assessment this year, according to data released by the Maryland State Department of Education. 

Baltimore County did particularly well with over 85 percent of county elementary and middle school students scoring at proficient or above in reading and 80 percent in math. Howard County beat them all, registering the highest percentages of proficiency–nearly 90 percent– in reading and math at almost all grade levels in the state.

The bad news: Baltimore City schools saw declines this year. Scores fell from 72.4 percent proficiency to 69 percent proficiency in reading and from 66.3 percent proficiency to 61.4 percent proficiency in math.  What’s worse, some of the city schools had the worst performances in the state.

“I am enormously dissatisfied with these results. Any time we fall short of our students’ full potential and we take a step back, it is unacceptable,” said Andres Alonso, CEO of Baltimore city schools. 

Fort Washington Elementary, which was recently cited for altered test scores in 2009 and 2010, saw percentages drop 20 points. Was the drop completely attributable to the cheating?

The big picture: Across the board, it’s not all bad. Scores have risen significantly in every school district since 2003. And across the state more students are performing at advanced levels. But it’s a disappointment to see Baltimore City lag behind. Whether you live in Baltimore City or not, the metropolitan region gets painted with a broad brush and poor test scores define us as a culture. We want to see Baltimore City kids earn higher scores for their own morale and sense of self worth, and because these basic scores indicate how well the system is serving them.

We hate to be that guy in the room fixated on what isn’t rather than what is, but sometimes, we need that kind of energy to turn things around. The improved results for the state only magnify Baltimore City’s disappointing results.


One reply on “MSA Results: Which do you want first? The good news or the bad news?”

  1. Until we find a way for students and their parents to see more success as an engineer than as a middle linebacker or American Idol, I hold little hope for significant improvement in public education in American cities. We are more focused on entertainment (and that includes pro sports) than on improvement; more of the general populace can name the spouses of movie stars than can name their own US senators.
    The schools provide what the citizens demand of them: keep the kids off the street, and tell me that my young ‘un is wonderful. Rare is the public school student whose parents look at homework, or read to the toddlers, or expect the child to become a responsible citizen.
    Parents who complain when the teachers demand performance from the students and then complain that the schools cost money, and then complain that too many people can’t get jobs (without basic skills) are contributing greatly to the failure of the schools. And even the parents who do provide a good home life, then send the good kids they have raised off to private schools, and complain about the taxes for the schools, are not helping. Without those good examples to temper the population, the public classes are being turned into training grounds for the less well prepared, and then underfunded for this more demanding task. How is this supposed to work?

    So, until we quit dreaming of some way to milk “our” good kids away with a voucher program, and step back and look at the public schools realistically, all the testing in the world will not improve the situation.

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