For the Cumberland Times-News
OAKLAND — A significant number of Garrett County public school elementary and middle school students achieved scores at the proficient and advanced levels in reading and mathematics on the Maryland School Assessment and Alternate Maryland School Assessment, as announced Tuesday by the Maryland State Department of Education.
However, the state has reported that overall MSA scores at these levels in reading and math took a slight step back in 2013. Garrett County scores have followed the trend with results that speak directly to the changes that have been taking place in Maryland public schools and those across the nation, the county board of education said Tuesday.
Maryland public schools have been transitioning to the Common Core State Standards for the past two years, but the state is still required by federal law to administer the MSA exams, which are not aligned to the new learning standards. New exams will be rolled out in the 2014-15 school year.
“Just like every other Maryland county and in most states nationally, Garrett County is in the process of adjusting its curriculum and instruction to meet the demands of the Common Core Curriculum and the PARCC assessments which will be administered as a pilot as early as 2013-2014,” said Superintendent of Schools Janet Wilson.
“With a local focus on school closures during 2011-2012 while the rest of Maryland was attentive to developing and implementing a transition path to the new curriculum, our schools’ and central office staff had to make great strides with curriculum and instructional changes during 2012-2013. The teamwork between our schools was phenomenal,” said Wilson.
“The recent cuts in programs and services, such as reading intervention services, create challenges for us as we prepare students for rigorous classroom performance,” Wilson added.
A significant number of instructional positions have been lost in the schools over the past several years, which translates into a loss of resources and interventions for students, as well as larger class sizes resulting from the closing of three elementary schools, the board of education said Tuesday.
Overall in Garrett County, the elementary grades had 84.9 percent of the students scoring at proficient/advanced in reading, compared to a statewide 86.4 percent. This is a drop of 5.7 percentage points from 2012. In looking at the overall picture since the inception of MSA reading in 2003, the elementary grades have improved greatly in which 59 percent of the students scored at the proficient/ advanced levels. In middle school reading, 88 percent achieved the proficient/ advanced mark. This is actually an increase of 0.3 percent points since 2012 and a significant increase from 62.5 percent in 2003.
In math, the elementary grades in Garrett County had 81.4 percent of the students scoring at proficient/advanced. This is down 5 percentage points from 2012 but a considerable increase from 57.8 percent in 2003. In middle school, 79.7 percent achieved the math proficient/advanced level in 2013. This is down 3.6 percentage points from 2012 but a major increase from 41.4 percent in 2003.
Garrett County had 26 students participating in the alternate testing with 96.2 percent in reading and 92.3 percent in math scoring at the proficient/advanced levels.
For more information concerning MSA, log on to the Maryland Report Card site at www.mdreportcard.org.