Worcester High School Students Surpass State Test Standards

NEWARK – In spite of new assessments, students in Worcester County’s public schools continue to surpass state standards.

School system officials reported that local students performed well on the new Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) exams.

“We are encouraged by the results at the high school level,” Superintendent Jerry Wilson said. “These results are reflective of the efforts our students, teachers and our supportive community have made … We will continue our commitment to educating for excellence through the use of supporting teachers’ use of standards-based instruction, innovative practices and technology, with the hope of seeing scores grow from this newly established baseline.”

Data released by the state last week shows that 58.5 percent of Worcester County students who took the English 10 PARCC assessment scored at Level 4 or 5, the highest levels on the scoring scale. In Algebra I, 56.6 percent of students achieved a Level 4 or 5 rating.

According to the Maryland State Department of Education, on a statewide basis nearly 40 percent of high school students taking the PARCC English 10 assessment last year scored at a Level 4 and 5 combined. More than 30 percent of students attained Level 4 and 5 combined in Algebra I.

Worcester County’s demographic data did, however, identify some achievement gaps. While 43 percent of Caucasian students scored at Level 4 on the English assessment, just 23.7 percent of African American students and 18.8 percent of Hispanic students scored at Level 4. In Algebra, 58.5 percent of Caucasian students scored at Level 4 while just 14.5 percent of African American students and 25 percent of Hispanic students scored at that level.

“Utilizing this assessment, it was anticipated that the data would be able to pinpoint achievement gaps and areas to target for improvement,” said John Quinn, the school system’s chief academic officer. “We will use these results as a tool to target instruction in order to close these gaps and help our students get on the proper trajectory to college and career readiness.”

In Wicomico County, school system officials say they’re still analyzing the recently released scores.

“Our students in some cases did very well in comparison to the state average, and in other cases trailed the state average,” said Tracy Sahler, spokesperson for the school system. “We will be examining these numbers. Not reflected in the test results is the fact that Wicomico’s student population has a high family poverty rate of nearly 60 percent, and significant numbers of students receiving special services.”

According to the Maryland Report Card website, 23.3 percent of high school students in Wicomico County scored at Level 4 on the English 10 assessment while 7.6 percent scored at Level 5. On the Algebra I assessment, 5.6 percent scored at Level 4 while fewer than 5 percent scored at Level 5. Most students, 40.6 percent, “partially met” expectations and scored at Level 2.

“The 2015 scores from a brand new test set a new baseline,” Sahler said, “and our schools and students will build from this point as part of being on track to graduate ready for college or career.”

She said reports with each student’s results (for Algebra I, Algebra II and English 10) would go home with report cards Friday. Results for students in grades three through eight will go home in December. Informational handouts will be included with the reports to help parents interpret results. Additional information is available at marylandpublicschools.org and understandthescore.org.