June 18, 2004 Extra Credit
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June 18, 2004

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June 17
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"That's Gap-Closing," Declares a Maryland Superintendent

The following are excerpts from a recent article in the Washington Post highlighting the improved student achievement and closing of the achievement gap in Maryland:

"Statewide scores on Maryland's reading and math achievement tests improved from a year ago, state officials said yesterday, and the performance gap between white and minority students showed signs of narrowing. Some of the most significant gains were made on the third-grade reading test, as 71 percent of the state's public school students passed that exam, compared with 58 percent in 2003. In the Washington area, a few counties posted even larger increases: The passing rate for Charles County's third-graders went up 14 percentage points, for example, while in Prince George's County, third-graders had a spike of 15.9 percentage points in the reading passing rate over last year. 'I have focused on reading since the day I walked in,' said Prince George's schools chief André J. Hornsby. 'My attitude with principals was simple: No improvement is unacceptable.'"

"Montgomery County Superintendent Jerry D. Weast noted that among third-graders in the 15 elementary schools with the highest levels of poverty in the county and large minority populations, the percentage of students who passed the reading and math tests improved at a rate double the county's overall. Weast has implemented several reforms at those schools, including smaller class sizes and teacher training. 'I'm tickled,' Weast said. 'That's gap-closing. ... We now know we have a system that will work.'

"Across the state, scores improved for black and Hispanic students from a year ago, as well as for students who speak limited English. On the third-grade reading exam, for example, results for Hispanic students went up more than 20 percentage points, for a passing rate of almost 60 percent. Scores for white students increased about 9 percentage points. Black students saw their scores improve substantially on the third- and fifth-grade math tests, with an increase of at least 10 percentage points on each -- compared with an increase of 4 or 5 percentage points for white students. The passing rate for students who speak limited English jumped by 27 percentage points statewide in third-grade reading."

The complete text of this article is available online at:


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Last Modified: 03/26/2008