The first wave of results for Maryland’s newest battery of standardized tests shows that 20 percent t0 31 percent of Maryland students taking algebra exams met benchmarks of college-readiness, while about 40 percent reached that level in high school English.
The results are the first from Maryland’s use of exams linked to the rigorous Common Core State Standards known by the acronym PARCC, which stands for Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers.
The results for Maryland students on three high school exams show major gaps in student achievement by race and ethnicity.
On the Algebra 1 exam, for example, 62 percent of Asian students and 45 percent of white students scored a 4 or 5 — the highest marks — while 13 percent of African American students and 17 percent of Hispanic students reached that proficiency level.
Just 6 percent of special education students, 7 percent of English learners and 13 percent of low-income students achieved college-readiness marks on the five-point scoring scale.
State officials said the scores were not a surprise and will create a new baseline to help show whether students are on track to graduate prepared for college and the working world.
“It’s a high bar,” said Bill Reinhard, of the Maryland State Department of Education. “These rates were not unexpected. It’s a more difficult test, and these are more rigorous standards for students to achieve.”
[Test results expected for Common Core-aligned exams in Maryland]
Maryland’s newly released scores came in three high school courses, with proficiency levels of 4 or 5 reached by nearly 40 percent of students taking the English 10 exam, 31 percent taking the Algebra 1 exam and 20 percent taking the Algebra 2 exam.
The new test is scored from 1 to 5, with the lowest level showing a student did not meet expectations and the highest showing a student exceeded expectations. PARCC has determined that scores of 4 and 5 demonstrate students are “college and career ready,” and in most participating states use that marker for proficiency.
In all, 61,800 students in Maryland sat for PARCC exams in Algebra 1 and another 40,600 for the exam in Algebra 2. Across the two courses, nearly 75,000 students did not achieve a level of college readiness on an exam.
Reinhard said the data was similar to that for the first administration of the state’s previous standardized test in algebra — the High School Assessment (HSA) — about 10 years ago. He noted that no accountability measures were associated with the PARCC test; scores were not linked to teacher evaluations or student graduation requirements.
“We expect the success rate to greatly improve as we move forward,” he said.
[Next-generation tests roll out in Maryland, the District amid concerns]
More than 88 percent of Maryland’s 12th grade students who had taken HSA exams for Algebra 1 passed the test, according to state data for 2014.
The new high school numbers — presented to the Maryland State Board of Education at a meeting Tuesday — did not include school-by-school figures. State officials said that data will be released Nov. 5.
“The initial PARCC results represent a new starting line for Maryland students, teachers, and families as we strive to better prepare our students to get on track for success after graduation,” interim State Superintendent Jack R. Smith said in a statement. “But it is important to recognize that this data is only a snapshot; it’s one additional measure to use when viewing the progress of our students, along with many other factors. This is a challenging assessment, and the data reflects that.”