A reader sent us the below letter to parents from the new city schools’ CEO Tisha Edwards after it was announced today that students’ test scores dropped dramatically. Read the Baltimore Sun story on the test scores here. – The Eds.

Dear City Schools Community,

Today, the Maryland State Department of Education released 2013 Maryland School Assessment (MSA) results for the state, and with this email, I am sharing with you our results for Baltimore City Public Schools.

Overall, the district held steady in reading, thanks largely to gains in the middle grades, and math is down from last year. While the latest MSA results don’t reflect the gains we hope to see from year to year, they do show that far more students are maintaining or gaining proficiency than losing proficiency, which is critical as our students shift to new curricula rooted in much higher standards. And City Schools’ latest MSA scores closely mirror Maryland’s 2013 statewide results: Like the district, the state saw a dip in math in grades 3-5 and 6-8, and in reading it saw a dip in grades 3-5 but an increase in grades 6-8.

The release of the 2013 MSA results coincides with City Schools’ ongoing shift to curricula aligned to the Common Core State Standards, a set of rigorous standards that set new, much higher expectations for our students, which we will be expanding across all subjects and grades this coming year. The standards are integral to City Schools’ second phase of reforms, where our efforts focus entirely on ensuring excellent teaching and learning for every student. In addition to developing new curricula aligned to the new Common Core standards, we are strengthening instructional practice as part of a districtwide focus on staff effectiveness, and renovating and replacing school buildings to provide all students with modern, high-quality learning environments. As we move forward with our vision of providing a 21st-century education, we also are working to strengthen partnerships that will support learning both in and out of school and that will contribute to a rich and well-rounded education for our students.

City Schools is in a significant transition, and the 2013 MSA results show that our students are well positioned for the unprecedented educational opportunities ahead. Please read more about the district’s 2013 MSA results here.

Thank you for all that you do to help us prepare our students for college, career and lifelong success. And please join us, as we work to take teaching and learning to new heights in City Schools in 2013-14.

Sincerely,

Tisha Edwards
Interim CEO, Baltimore City Public Schools