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June 30, 2005 Extra Credit
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June 30, 2005

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“‘We Posted Big Gains’”

The following are excerpts from a recent Arbutus Times (Maryland) article highlighting the achievement of the students at Arbutus Elementary School in Maryland on this year's state tests.

“There was good news [in this year's Maryland School Assessment tests] all around at Arbutus Elementary School, where scores jumped significantly in almost every category.

“‘We posted big gains,’ said Karen Benny, the school's principal. ‘Our parents and teachers are very excited.’

“Eighty-six percent of fifth-graders at the school scored as advanced or proficient readers, compared with last year's 65 percent. The county average was 78.6 percent, according to the Maryland State Department of Education.

“There was similar good news in math, where 75 percent of students scored at the advanced or proficient levels, compared with last year's 52.5 percent. The school's math score for fifth-graders was 5 percentage points above the county average of 70 percent.

“The school also showed considerable success in closing the achievement gap between some minority children and their white counterparts. Eighty-six percent of African-American students scored at advanced or proficient levels on the reading exam, while 71.4 percent of fifth-graders scored at the proficient rate on the math exam.”

“Benny attributed the school's success on the statewide exam to lots of parental involvement and the effective use of test data.

“‘Our teachers are using student accountability data to determine how they need to adjust curriculum to meet the needs of students,’ she said. ‘Just collecting data is not enough. Every year you try to meet your targets from last year and move ahead.’

“The MSA reading and math tests are used to determine if schools are meeting requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind Act, which requires all public schools to make adequate yearly progress toward the 2014 goal of proficiency for all students. The test is given in early spring to students in third through eighth grade and is made up of multiple-choice and short-essay questions.

“Reading and math scores improved in all 24 school systems across the state, according to results posted at www.mdreportcard.org. While scores for middle and elementary schools are available, high school data will be released later this summer.

“Statewide reading scores for fifth-graders rose nearly six points, from 68.4 percent in 2004 to 74.3 percent this year for students scoring in the advanced or proficient levels. Math scores for fifth-graders also jumped nearly six points, from 2004's 63.1 percent to this year's 69 percent.

“‘We are beginning to see a welcome pattern of students making strides across the board,’ said state Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick. ‘Our schools have placed new focus on our state standards, and the results are impressive. The No Child Left Behind Act will continue to challenge us to work harder, but (these) results prove that Maryland is taking that challenge very seriously.’

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Last Modified: 07/12/2005