County Encouraged By High School Test Scores

NEWARK – The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) released 2007 High School Assessment (HSA) results this week.

MSDE asked school systems across the state to simultaneously release HSA results for the class of 2009, the first cohort of students required to pass the four HSAs in order to earn a Maryland High School Diploma.

“Our school system’s HSA scores indicate that our ongoing efforts to help students succeed on these assessments are working,” said Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jon Andes. “However, we recognize that there is still more hard work ahead of us.”

HSA tests are administered to all high school students upon completion of the courses associated with the state’s accountability measures. The four HSA tests used for accountability are Algebra/Data Analysis, Biology, English II, and Government. In Maryland, for students graduating in 2009 and thereafter, passing the HSAs is a graduation requirement.

Based on Worcester County Public Schools’ HSA results for students in the class of 2009, the following percentages of students have passed each HSA:

(BULLET)In Algebra/Data Analysis: 85.8 percent of students in the class of 2009 have earned a passing score;

(BULLET)In Biology: 61.1 percent of students in the class of 2009 have earned a passing score;

(BULLET)In English II: 73.2 percent of students in the class of 2009 have earned a passing score; and

(BULLET)In Government: 81.6 percent of students in the class of 2009 have earned a passing score.

The percent of students passing the Biology HSA is lower than the percentages of students passing the other HSAs.

“The difference in Biology is due to a significant number of students who have not yet taken the test,” said Superintendent of Instruction Dr. Richard Walker. “These students were identified for a specific sequence of coursework to help ensure that when they take Biology and the corresponding Biology HSA, they will be successful.”

Walker added, “Our school system is continually looking for new strategies and programs to help our students succeed in the classroom and on high-stakes testing such as the HAS. Many initiatives have been added or expanded to address our challenges.”

In Worcester County Public Schools, these initiatives include curriculum development and new materials of instruction that align with the state’s Core Learning Goals; county benchmark assessments which enable teachers to pinpoint where each student needs help; Smaller Learning Communities that place students in courses paced for their level of understanding; after-school and summer academies that focus on increasing assessment performance; ongoing and relevant professional development for teachers and support staff; collaborative teaching between special education and content area teachers; the use of technology to differentiate instruction and to provide supplementary coursework to help students; and the support offered by our Student Services Specialists to families in need.

The HSA assessments in Algebra/Data Analysis and English II are also used as accountability measures for the Maryland School Assessments (MSAs), those assessments mandated by the federal government under the No Child Left Behind Act.

With HSA scores released, MSDE was also able to release Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) at the high school level. All high schools have made AYP in the Worcester County Public School System, which means that all schools in the school system have made AYP.

“We are encouraged by our HSA results,” said Andes. “We are working hard to help students be successful. These results affirm what we already know – that our school system is comprised of the best students who make every effort to succeed on these assessments, coupled with outstanding professionals who truly care about students and their success.”

According to Andes, the results also highlight the school system’s challenges.

“We understand that some students have difficulty demonstrating knowledge on one day, within a specific range of time, and on one test,” Andes said. “We will continue to work with each student to help them be successful.”