MSA test scores are up in most subjects
Minority achievement gap also shows improvement
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
The Maryland State Department of Education released its Maryland School Assessment scores for Charles County on Monday.
In a trend that has been tracked for the last five years, Maryland schools have made consistent progress in improving their scores.
Charles County has reflected that trend, except for a 0.2 percent decline in the overall fifth grade math level. Generally, in all categories Charles County showed marked improvement. The reading scores for sixth grade were up over 5 percentage points, and in the eight grades countywide were up more than 3 percentage points.
Charles County School Superintendent James E. Richmond was pleased with the steady progress the scores have demonstrated.
‘‘I think all the teachers and all the kids did a great job,” Richmond said ‘‘We have had this program in place for several years, and everyone has done an excellent job on it. I want to say I am pleased with all the teachers and kids, especially the teachers and kids, because, really, this is theirs.”
Richmond was referring to the reading improvement programs and the reading recovery programs that have been initiated in the schools to improve reading scores.
MSA scores reflect how well children in public elementary and middle schools in Charles County have learned reading and math according to the standards set by the MSDE. Every grade level from third to eighth has standards set to define the knowledge and skills that should be mastered by that student at that grade level. The tests are given to all children in public schools who attend the third through eighth grades. The data are used to meet the federal No Child Left Behind requirements. Under NCLB standards, all students must be ‘‘proficient” in reading and math by 2014.
Gale-Bailey and William B. Wade elementary schools and Milton M. Somers Middle School demonstrated across-the-board improvement in all subjects.
Amy DiSabatino is the principal at Wade.
‘‘I’m dancing,” DiSabatino said, when asked about her school’s MSA scores. ‘‘I am so excited.”
DiSabatino gave credit for her school’s consistently improving MSA to her staff.
‘‘We have a consistently strong educational program,” DiSabatino said. ‘‘We also have lots of parent support. I am lucky that I also have a consistent staff. I haven’t had any turnover in eight years, so it helps that I can start every school year by hitting the ground running. Of course, the kids have been phenomenal.”
Robert Opiekun is the principal of Dr. Samuel A. Mudd School. The school had four areas that saw declines in scores, both third- and fifth- grade math and reading.
‘‘Test scores as a whole fuel our school’s plan for the next year,” Opiekun said. ‘‘When my team gets back in the second week of August, we make an individual plan for each student to maximize their potential. We want to make sure each child’s strength is celebrated.”
Fifth-grade math was down 16.4 percentage points at Mudd. The school did meet all testing requirements with the fourth grade, as fourth-grade math was up 18.4 percentage points; and Mudd also improved in fourth-grade reading.
Gale-Bailey Elementary School was also able to claim across-the-board improved scores. Carrie Richardson, principal of the school, credits the success to a multiyear effort between her staff and her students.
‘‘We are very pleased,” Richardson said. ‘‘I believe we did so well because my staff understands the needs and the strength and weakness of the students. We match our instruction to those students’ needs.”
Charles County did close the gap between the scores of different socioeconomic groups and races. According to a press release from the Charles County Board of Education, the difference between African-American and white students’ scores have narrowed in elementary reading scores, with a 2003 gap of 25.7 points and a 2008 difference of 10.4 points. Elementary math scores narrowed from 27 to 13.9 points. In middle school, the math gap has been reduced from 28.2 to 22.2, and reading is closing the gap with scores improving from 24.9 to 15.2 points.
MSAs chart the progress of students overall, but also for students in categories who receive special services. They break down the scores further for students who receive free and⁄or reduced price meals, special education and limited English proficiency. The tests also chart the progress of students in five racial subgroups: American Indian⁄Alaskan Native, Asian⁄Pacific Islander, African-American, White and Hispanic. Detailed analysis of these scores will be released by the school system soon.
Click here for a school-by-school report.