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June 8, 2005 Extra Credit
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June 8, 2005

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All 24 Maryland School Districts Report Improved Reading and Math Scores For Second Year in Row
Achievement Gap is Closing


No Child Left Behind is making sure schools are held accountable for the academic progress of every child, regardless of income, background, learning disability, or first language. The following are excerpts from articles in today’s Washington Post and Baltimore Sun highlighting Maryland’s continued improvements in student achievement and its progress in closing the achievement gap.

The Washington Post reports:
"Maryland’s elementary and middle schools improved reading and mathematics test scores for a second straight year, with black and Hispanic students closing achievement gaps in some key measures, according to state data made public yesterday. Results from the 2005 Maryland School Assessments were seen as encouraging for one of the Washington area’s lowest–ranked school systems. Prince George’s County built on the previous year's solid gains, with scores rising for nearly every group of students."

"State officials said all 24 school systems showed gains, with certain groups of black and Hispanic students making faster progress as they seek to catch up to their white and Asian American peers. For example, 64 percent of African American third–graders scored at proficient or better in math, up from 47 percent in 2003. In third-grade reading, 63 percent of Hispanic students reached or exceeded proficiency, up from 39 percent in 2003. ‘That’s pretty stunning,’ [state schools Superintendent Nancy] Grasmick said.

"What’s more, scores showed that some historic achievement gaps are narrowing. In 2003, 79 percent of non-Hispanic white third–graders scored at proficient or better in math; this year, 87 percent did. Black students are now 23 percentage points behind non–Hispanic white students, after being 32 points behind two years ago. A comparable narrowing occurred with Hispanic third–graders in reading, as the gap with non–Hispanic white students shrank to 22 percentage points from 33 points. … State officials also reported that low–income students and disabled students who qualify for special education had achieved higher test scores."

"In Anne Arundel County, the percentage of third–, fifth– and eighth–graders achieving advanced levels in math more than doubled in two years. And more students were reaching proficiency. ‘There are 2,000 more students who are proficient in math this year than there were last year. Those are real kids,’ said Jonathan Brice, who oversees the Anne Arundel school assessment."

The complete text of the article is available online.

The Baltimore Sun reports:
"… [S]cores for special education students increased significantly –, in some cases doubling achievement from two years ago, the inaugural year of the federally required Maryland School Assessment. Students from a variety of minority groups, including African–American and Hispanic students, also did better."

"The best news for the city was in the reading scores of third–, fifth–, and sixth–graders. … For example, the rate of Baltimore fifth–graders who tested as proficient in reading increased by 8 percentage points to 58 percent, while the statewide rate rose 5 percentage points to 76 percent. Statewide, the earlier grades saw the steepest gains. The percentage of third–graders in Maryland who passed the reading test jumped from 58 percent in 2003 to more than 75 percent this year. The percentage of fifth–,graders statewide who passed the math test grew from 55 percent in 2003 to more than 69 percent this year."

"‘Part of the rationale behind the federal [No Child Left Behind] program and Maryland’s program is not to hide behind the averages,’ said Jacqueline C. Haas, schools superintendent in Harford County. ‘There’s considerable pressure to be successful with every single person.’"

The complete ext of the article is available from The Baltimore Sun online archinves for a fee.

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NCLB Extra Credit is a regular look at the No Child Left Behind Act, President Bush's landmark education reform initiative passed with bipartisan support in Congress.

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Last Modified: 11/28/2006