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PARCC results show modest gains in some math scores for Baltimore City schools

“We are seeing movement in the right direction in math, but we are nowhere close to where we need to be,” said Chief Executive Officer Sonja Brookins Santelises. “Annual gains of one or two percentage points are not enough for us to move our students to levels of true readiness for college and careers.” (GRAPH: BALTIMORE CITY PUBLIC SCHOOLS)

BALTIMORE (WBFF) -- The second year of PARCC results for Baltimore City Schools show modest gains in some math scores, but officials say students across the state as a whole outperformed Baltimore students at all grade levels.

“We are seeing movement in the right direction in math, but we are nowhere close to where we need to be,” said Chief Executive Officer Sonja Brookins Santelises. “Annual gains of one or two percentage points are not enough for us to move our students to levels of true readiness for college and careers.”

The results come from the spring 2016 Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), a test first administered to Maryland students in 2015. PARCC, intended to measure readiness for graduation, is graded on the following 5-point scale:

  1. Did not yet meet expectations
  2. Partially met expectations
  3. Approached expectations
  4. Met expectations
  5. Exceeded expectations


On the 2016 Algebra I test, 14.3% of city students scored a 4 or 5, compared to 35.6% of Maryland students overall. English language arts students in grades 4, 7, and 8 improved from 2015 to 2016, while declines were seen in grades 3, 5, 6 and in English 10.

“These declining or relatively stagnant levels of achievement in English language arts are particularly troubling to me,” said Dr. Santelises. “The new standards emphasize reading for meaning and writing for a variety of purposes, but we are not giving large numbers of our students the skills needed to master increasingly complex texts of different kinds. These results show that systemic changes are needed in the way we teach literacy and language arts, beginning in the earliest grades.”

School officials noted that students in grades 3, 6 and English 10 -- where significant declines were recorded -- took the PARCC on paper last year and switched to computers in 2016 for both English and math.

“Like the state, we are examining the effect of online testing on measures of student achievement,” said Chief Academic Officer Sean Conley. “Lack of strong infrastructure to support technology use at some of our schools creates barriers for students. We are working on ways to incorporate technology more effectively in classrooms and to provide additional training for teachers on using technology for instruction.”

Moving forward school officials say they will focus on providing direction and specific support to schools and on incorporating ongoing professional learning.

“The PARCC data confirm what I’ve seen in classrooms,” said Dr. Santelises. “While understanding of the new Maryland College and Career-Ready Standards has grown, school leaders and teachers are telling me that the district needs to provide more high-quality support around best practices in instruction that aligns to those standards. We will be working this year to give our teachers the knowledge and tools they need to accelerate our students’ progress.”

Students will take PARCC tests this year between April 18 and June 5.

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