Standardized test scores of Montgomery County public school children have either risen a few percentile points or stayed constant for 1976 to 1977 at a time when scores of children across the nation are declining. Montgomery County School Superintendent Charles M. Bernardo said recently.
A report released this week by Bernardo says that scores have risen for the second straight year and still range from the 54th to the 82nd percentile, above the national norm of 50.
"MCPS students are in all respects doing better in all grades," said Bernardo, who added that he found the resulting scores "extremely positive."
"I'm pleased to see a reversal in the past two years," he said. The dip in Montgomery County public school scores from 1973 to 1975 has been replaced by an upward swing which, in the cases of the third and fifth grades, has matched or surpassed the 1972 figures.
Students in the third, fifth, seventh and ninth grades take the Iowa Test of Basic Skills which measures achievement through a range of subtests in areas such as vocabulary, reading comprehension and math problem solving. Students in the 11th grade take the Tests of Academic Progress which meausre social studies, mechanics of English, science, reading, mathematics and literature. All the grades take some version of the Cognitive Abilities Tests which measure scholastic aptitude.
The median scores for children in the county are scaled in relation to the national median which is designed as the 50th percantile. Actually the 50th percentile was determined in 1971, so every school in the nation is compared against the 1971 test-taking children, not directly against each other.
"MCPS students are above the state average," Bernardo noted. Out of the 44 achievement subtests given to third, fifth, seventh and ninth graders, half of the scores for the county children were higher than last year, 22 remained same, and one declined.
"The third grade continues to produces the highest scores on tests," Bernardo said. Third grade scores on achievement tests remained constant or increased, sometimes as much as nine points, as in the math problem solving test. The one achievement test decline for students in the third through ninth bracket was in seventh grade vocabulary.
"The heavy emphasis this year in reading and speaking comprehension should reverse the decline in vocabulary," Bernardo said. Special programs in reading or math or both will be used in 50 public schoosl this year. Bernardo explained.
Although the 11th grade math score percentile dropped two points, the College Entrance Examination Board (CEEB) scores for that grade improved this year by one point in verbal and two points in math.
"My guess would be that the younsters who took the CEEBs have higher levels of motivation than those who are taking the academic progress test which has no personal meaning for them," Bernardo said.
Bernardo said the scores for black students and female students would be further analyzed and compared against the countywide scores within the next month.