Maryland Students Underperform on New College Readiness Tests

By Shannon Gallagher

Capital News Service

The results from Maryland's newly implemented Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) exams released this month showed room for improvement. During the 2014-2015 school year, Marylanders took the exam in three content areas: English Language Arts/Literacy, Algebra I and Algebra II. We analyzed the state Department of Education data and found six things you need to know about the exam results.

Majority of Maryland Students Perform Below Expectations on PARCC Assessments

In each of the three testing categories, a majority of Maryland students "did not meet expectations."

Worcester, Harford Counties Lead State on English Exam, Somerset County Scores Lag

While students in nearly all counties performed best on the English Language Arts/Literacy exam, results were low overall. In just three counties -- Worcester, Harford and Frederick -- more than half of students scored within the range considered on-track to be "college-ready," according to federal Common Core standards. In Allegany County, just one in five students are on-track to be "college ready;" well below the statewide average of two in five students.

Students Scored Higher in English Than Math

On average, student Algebra I scores in individual Maryland counties were 7 percentage points lower than their ELA/Lit scores. But two counties, St. Mary's and Allegany -- scored significantly higher on Algebra I than ELA/Lit. Worcester County, again, scored far above other counties in Algebra I. On average, 31.2 percent of students met or exceeded expectations in Algebra I. Algebra I testing data for Calvert and Carroll was not available.

Carroll, Howard, Frederick Counties Excel in Algebra II

The average number of students statewide who met or exceeded expectations in Algebra II was 20.2 percent. Algebra II testing data for Worcester County unavailable.

Asian Students Score Significantly Higher than African-Americans, Hispanics

Asian students met or exceeded expectations at nearly double the state average. White students and those reporting more than one race also performed above the state average. Hispanic and African-American students performed well under the state average.

Compared with Other States, Maryland Scores in Middle of the Pack

Maryland was one of eleven states to adopt and implement PARCC exams in public schools during the 2014-2015 school year. While students in individual state took differing exams based on implementation policies decided upon in each state, the ELA/Lit exam was administered to students in all eleven states. Maryland students ranked fourth among other states, falling behind Mississippi, Ohio and Illinois.