Prince George’s schools make steady progress and face challenges

September 27, 2012

More Prince George’s County students earned a passing grade on Advanced Placement exams last school year. Fewer had multiple absences. And more students took college-entrance exams, according to annual achievement data released recently.

In the 2011-12 school year, more than 27 percent of Prince George’s students received a 3 or higher on an Advanced Placement exam, which grades on a five-point scale, according to school officials. That was up from 25 percent the previous school year.

About 36 percent of students had 10 or more absences in 2011-12, a drop of 2.4 percent from 2010-11. And 5,192 students sat for the SAT exam, up from 5,145 a year earlier and 4,920 four years ago.

But the school system, which has made considerable progress in state test scores in recent years, also offered some sobering news.

Last year, only 44 percent of the county’s graduates were considered college or career ready. Seventh-graders experienced a 4 percent drop in reading scores on the Maryland School Assessment exams. And only 81 percent of students who attended preschool or Headstart were considered ready for kindergarten.

School officials said the data show the modest gains the system has experienced in the past year but also the challenges it continues to face.

“We are making steady progress,” interim Superintendent Alvin L. Crawley said. “But there are groups of our students that are not doing as well as we want them to do.”

On the MSA, black and Hispanic students made slight progress on math scores. More than 68 percent of black students were proficient in math and 73 percent of the Hispanic students were proficient. White students continued to outpace minority students, but the number of white students who were proficient dropped slightly from 84.3 percent to 84.1 percent.

The SAT data in Prince George’s mirrors what is happening nationally.

According to the College Board, which released national data this week, only 43 percent of students who took the SAT are considered ready for college. The number of test takers increased, and reading and writing scores fell from the previous year.

In the Washington region, average statewide reading scores in Maryland, Virginia and the District all slipped slightly from 2011.

Reading scores in Prince George’s were 433, down two points from the previous year, and writing scores were 419, down four points since last year.

A. Duane Arbogast, the acting deputy superintendent for academics, said the dip did not cause major alarm.

“It’s hard to say we got worse or better by two points,” Arbogast said.

Ovetta Wiggins writes about K-12 education.
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