Maryland Assessments show students are falling behind in math


Maryland students are reaching pre-pandemic levels in the English-language arts but falling behind some points in math, according to preliminary results of the state assessment released Tuesday.

The state tests, known as the Maryland Comprehensive Assessment Program (MCAP), were taken by students in the spring. The findings provide an update on how the state’s students have fared about a year after schools reopened following distance learning early in the pandemic. State officials compared the results released Tuesday to tests administered in 2019 and the abbreviated state exam administered in fall 2021.

In math, most grade levels showed improvement compared to Fall 2021 assessments, with the exception of sixth graders. Twenty-one percent of the state’s sixth graders at the time were proficient in math, but the proficiency ratio was plummeting 18 percent for the test in spring 2022. In 2019, 30 percent of sixth graders were competent.

“Virtual learning has made a difference in math, and how math classes are delivered effectively has been very difficult in a virtual state,” State Superintendent Mohammed Choudhury told state board members after the results were released. He warned there will be “a long road to recovery” to pre-pandemic levels.

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Most students have improved in English language skills compared to the Fall 2021 test results. Sixth grade grades fell again, as did grade 10 students’ grades. However, a higher percentage of both sixth graders and tenth graders were competent compared to the 2019 results. In the case of tenth graders, 53 percent were competent in spring 2022, but in fall 2021 it was 57 percent. In 2019, 43 percent of tenth graders were considered competent.

44 percent of sixth graders were rated proficient in English language skills based on spring results, but 53 percent were proficient last fall. In 2019, 41 percent of sixth grade students were proficient.

Overall, the data showed that Maryland students improved faster in the English-language arts than in math, which is similar to national trends, Choudhury said.

State officials warned that the fall 2021 test results came from an abbreviated test. Math tests were cut from around 160 minutes to 80 minutes, and English exams lasted 140 minutes – down from 280 minutes. They also noted that the data released Tuesday was preliminary. Final results – including breakdowns by student group and school system – will be released in January. Then, state officials said, they would look at further trends in the data.

Choudhury added that while overall Maryland students are improving, they are not doing as quickly as other states. He noted that Maryland’s average math and reading scores from the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) — ​​known as “the nation’s testimony” — have fallen since 2013. The state’s fourth-grade students performed below the national average in math and reading, according to NAEP results released in October. Eighth graders performed below the national average in math but close to the national average in reading.

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23 jurisdictions performed better than Maryland on the NAEP exam in fourth-grade math scores, and 14 jurisdictions performed better than the state in eighth-grade math scores. In reading, eight jurisdictions did better in fourth grade, and three jurisdictions did better in eighth grade.

“Our students are not as fast as other states, so we have a lot to do to improve our game,” Choudhury said. He added that some states didn’t have “the investment per student that we make in Maryland,” referring to the Blueprint for Maryland Future — a landmark education law that will pour billions into the state’s public schools over the next decade will let. “There’s no reason why we can’t be a model that emerges from the Blueprint in the next five to 10 years.”

The state education agency also on Tuesday looked at the results of the kindergarten readiness assessment, a test given to all incoming kindergarten students at the start of the school year. The test measures skills that include language and literacy, mathematics, physical well-being and social foundations.

Results have improved slightly this year — with 42 percent of kindergarteners “demonstrating willingness.” In the 2021-2022 school year, 40 percent of students showed readiness.

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Findings were further reported by race, socioeconomic status, and other demographics. Most students improved, although English learners and students with disabilities achieved the same results as in the 2021-2022 school year. Ten percent of English learners showed willingness, and 17 percent of students with disabilities showed willingness.

The state also released results from its School Climate Survey, which measures students’ and educators’ perceptions of the school environment. The survey measured multiple areas, including perceptions of physical and emotional safety, respect for diversity, and behavioral and academic support. The results showed that educators often perceived the school environment more positively than students. Students’ perceptions of the maintenance and cleanliness of school buildings received the lowest score. Her perception of physical safety at school also received a low score of 3.6 out of 10.

Maryland school systems receive survey results at the school level.


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