Press Release: Schools Continue To Make Progress As Learning Standards Evolve

Mixed Results On MSA Science Exam


For Immediate Release Contact: William Reinhard, 410-767-0486

BALTIMORE, MD (August 27, 2013) Maryland schools continue to move students toward proficiency on State exams even as learning standards evolve, according to data being released today by the Maryland State Department of Education.

More than six in 10 elementary and middle schools made their rising school progress targets for 2013, despite increasing targets and transitioning to the Common Core State Standards. The standards will not be aligned to the assessments until the 2014-15 school year.

"Improving schools whether they are struggling or schools that have historically performed well is a difficult proposition that doesn't take place overnight or over a year," said State Superintendent of Schools Lillian Lowery. "Our school systems are committed to the task because they understand the goal: All Maryland students deserve classrooms that prepare them for a better future."

School Progress and School Progress Index data was released today for elementary and middle schools during the Maryland State Board of Education meeting. Also released were the 2013 results on the Maryland School Assessment (MSA) for Science, which found fifth grade scores falling slightly, while slight improvement was registered on the eighth grade exam.

The federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) requires annual assessment on science at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. Maryland tests students on the MSA science exam at the fifth and eighth grade level, and assesses biology students in high school. Results on the biology exam will be released later this fall along with other high school data.

School Progress

Today's data release marks the second under Maryland's flexibility regarding the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law, granted last year. Under NCLB law, all students would be required to score
at proficient levels by 2014, and progress toward that goal was gauged by a statewide measurement known as Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). Under Maryland's approved "School Progress" plan, each school is measured against its own targets, and must work to strengthen achievement across all subgroups.

Data from 2011 began a new baseline, and schools and systems are workingto cut in half by 2017 the percentage of students not scoring at proficient levels on the exams.

As in the past, the accountability system measures all students as well as racial subgroups and groups of students receiving additional services, such as special education and English language learners. Schools and systems must work to hit improvement targets, known as annual measureable objectives (AMOs). AMOs are being calculated for the student population in each school as well as for special service and racial subgroups.

Under the School Progresscalculation, nearly 62 percent (61.8 percent) of Maryland schools met the increasing AMO targets for this year for the all student category, compared to 84.8 percent in 2012. The targets will continueto rise through the next four years.

Looking at the data on a subgroup basis, 83.4 percent of Maryland's student subgroups met their rising progress targets for 2013, compared to 95.2 percent in 2012.

MSA Science

The Maryland School Assessment in Science is different than other MSA tests in that it was not tied to school AYP accountability measures under the old No Child Left Behind version of ESEA. MSA Science results became included in accountability last year through MSDE's flexibility plan.

Scores at the fifth grade level dropped 1.5 points, from 68.5 percent of students scoring in the proficient ranges in 2012 to 67 percent. On a racial subgroup basis, the biggest dropped were registered by Hispanic students (down 2.5 percent), as well as White and American Indian students (both down 2.3 percent). Asian and African American students had more modest dips, 0.4 and 0.7 percent respectively.

Scores at the eighth grade level improved, moving from 70.7 percent of students scoring in the proficient range in 2012 to 71.4 percent in 2013. Big improvements were registered by African American (2.1 percent) and American Indian (1.9) percent.

School Progress and MSA Science data will be released at noon on the Maryland Report Card website, www.MdReportCard.org. For background on the School Progress and the School Progress Index, go to http://mdk12.org/data/index.aspx?Nav=1.8