COLLEGE PARK, Maryland — Maryland public schools fell to fifth place in Education Week’s national education rankings this year, due in part to achievement gaps between low and high-income students.
A Capital News Service analysis of state education data found the achievement gaps were especially pronounced in counties with the highest success rates.
Education Week ranked Maryland first from 2009 to 2013, until a criteria change in 2015 dropped it to third. The state fell to fourth in 2016 and fifth this year. Education Week did not rank states in 2014.
The achievement gap accounts for 7.3 percent of Education Week’s overall score — and the gap between rich and poor kids is larger in Maryland than most other states. About one-quarter of Maryland students who qualify for subsidized lunches passed the 2016 PARCC exam — the state’s standardized test for Algebra 1 and English 10 – compared with about 40 percent of all students, according to the state Dept. of Education.
In Education Week’s analysis, Maryland’s was 42nd out of 50 states and Washington, D.C., in the category that measures the achievement gap. It’s not unheard of for the highest achieving states to do poorly in that section. For example, Massachusetts – the top state in Education Week’s overall rankings – placed 34th in the achievement gap category.
In Maryland, the counties with the highest PARCC pass rates have some of the largest gaps between rich students and poor students. In those counties, low-income students are still passing the PARCC at higher rates than low-income students in other counties. But their wealthier peers are outscoring them by a much higher margin.
For example, in 2016 Carroll County had the state’s highest PARCC pass rate – 57.7 percent. But only 33.2 percent of poor students passed the tests – an achievement gap of 24.5 percent, the second highest in the state.