NEWARK – Worcester County’s public schools performed better than many in the state, according to data released last week.
The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) released Maryland Comprehensive Assessment Program (MCAP) results last Thursday. The data highlights how students performed on assessments administered in the spring of 2022 for English Language Arts (ELA) and math.
“We have been focusing this past year on fidelity to our instructional resources, so this data really reassured us that our instructional delivery is strong and our teachers are doing an excellent job,” said Annette Wallace, the school system’s chief safety and academic officer for grades nine through 12.
Across the state, ELA scores showed a return to pre-pandemic performance. In Worcester County, student performance on the spring ELA assessments in grades three through eight topped all other school systems in Maryland with 64% of students scoring as proficient or higher, 20 points above the state average. At Ocean City Elementary School, 94% of third graders scored proficient or higher, 74.8 points about the state average. Countywide, 71.1% of third graders scored proficient or higher on the ELA assessment. When asked about Ocean City’s high proficiency rate, Wallace said officials were proud of the school’s performance but noted that all schools followed district-wide programming.
“Ocean City did perform very well and we are proud of the school’s performance,” she said. “One of the other areas we focus on is where did our students begin – as well as where they end on an assessment such as MCAP. Some of the other schools in our district may not have performed on this final assessment of learning at the levels OCES students did as a whole, but their growth from the beginning of the year to the end based on iReady was tremendous.”
At the high school level, 72% of Worcester County students taking the English 10 assessment scored proficient. That was 19 points above the state average, and landed second overall in the state, with only three percentage points separating Worcester and Calvert counties. At Snow Hill High School, 80.2% of students reached proficiency. Countywide, 71% of students taking the English 10 assessment scored proficient.
While ELA scores were up statewide, math scores fell short of returning to pre-pandemic levels. Worcester County topped the state, however, with 37% of students scoring proficient. Officials noted that third graders at Snow Hill Elementary School bucked statewide trends by showing significant improvement from their pre-pandemic performance, with 65.1% of students reaching proficiency in math. Students in eighth grade math across the county also saw improvement from their pre-pandemic performance; in particular, 42% of students at Stephen Decatur Middle School reached proficiency. Officials said that like they had across the state, algebra scores also showed a decline from pre-pandemic levels but that Worcester’s performance was still second in the state.
Superintendent Lou Taylor said the scores were encouraging.
“We know we still have work to do, but there is a lot to celebrate in Worcester’s performance on these assessments,” he said. “I am incredibly proud of the hard work and determination of our students, teachers, and leaders, all of whom contributed to Worcester consistently topping the state in student performance.”
Officials have reviewed scores with principals and instructional coordinators. Detailed student reports should be sent home with students soon, Wallace said.
She said the results showed various trends specific to different student groups as well as improvements by students who have participated in after-school and summer school programs.
“There continues to be many challenges moving forward, but we prefer to define them as opportunities for growth,” she said. “We will continue to refine and focus on high quality tier 1 instruction, impactful after school and summer school programs, and continued professional development for our teachers.”
She stressed students and teachers had faced significant challenges during the pandemic.
“We could not be more proud of our staff for powering forward against all odds and our students who have worked harder in conditions that were less than desirable,” Wallace said. “I just want to say thank you to them. They are the reason Worcester County Public Schools was in the top 3 in every area. Personally, I could not be more proud to stand beside our staff, on a daily basis, as we continue to educate our students. I would also be remiss if I didn’t thank our parents, guardians, and community members for continuing to believe in our school system as we faced what felt many times like insurmountable challenges throughout the pandemic.”
According to MSDE, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) requires states to assess students annually in grades three through eight and once in high school in ELA and mathematics. The assessment measures mastery of Maryland content standards to ensure that all students are progressing and receiving the necessary supports for remediation, acceleration, and enrichment. The newly designed MCAP ELA and mathematics assessments were administered to Maryland students for the first time in spring 2022.