WASHINGTON — Recently released data from the Maryland State Department of Education show widespread gaps in the number of students who are ready for college in each county, and two local school systems rank among the best.
By percentage, students in Howard County outpaced their peers throughout the state on the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers — or PARCC, for short.
Forty-three percent of their pupils scored Level 4 on the Algebra I exams, compared with 36 percent in Montgomery and Anne Arundel, and 41 percent in Frederick. Students who scored at Levels 4 or 5 are deemed college ready.
The PARCC exams have replaced the Maryland School Assessments throughout the state. Also, they replace the High School Assessments as the tests students must pass to graduate.
Local school systems balked at the HSAs, saying they weren’t rigorous enough and didn’t properly represent university-level instruction. The PARCC tests — in Algebra I, Algebra II and English Language Arts/Literacy Grade 10 — are supposed to be tougher.
Montgomery County, the state’s largest school system, had the highest number of students scoring Levels 4 and 5 on the three PARCC exams.
Some 3,911 pupils scored 4 on the Algebra I test. A total of 2,394 scored 4 on the Algebra II test, and 2,799 scored 4 on the English Language Arts exam. Fifteen percent earned Level 5 — the highest score — on the English test.
“These results provide a new starting point for how we measure student performance,” Montgomery County Board of Education President Patricia O’Neill said in a statement. “It is abundantly clear that we have a lot of work to do to make sure all of our students are ready. We continue to see significant achievement gaps that we must address.”
Throughout the state, the PARCC results shine a new light on the persistent achievement gap between black and Latino children and their white and Asian-American peers. Twenty-two percent of Maryland’s black students scored Level 1 on the tests, the most of any race.
In Prince George’s County, where most of its students are black and Latino, 50 percent of its students scored Level 1 on the Algebra 1 test. Twenty-three percent of students and 28 percent of students scored level 1 on the Algebra I and English Language Arts tests. Six percent of county students — or 417 students — scored Level 5 on the English test.
“This is our first round of results for the challenging PARCC assessments, and we will be using these as a baseline to help monitor student performance,” Prince George’s County Schools CEO Kevin Maxwell said in a statement. “Our goal is for all of our students to graduate college and [be] career ready, and our strategic plan outlines how we will reach that goal. State assessments are just one way to measure our progress along that path.”
In releasing the state numbers last week, Interim State Superintendent Jack Smith said the PARCC was challenging, “and the numbers reflect that.”
“The data is only a snapshot,” Smith said at the time. “It’s one additional measure to use when viewing the progress of our students, along with many other factors.”
The PARCC is “a new starting line” that won’t be used yet to assess schools or students.
WTOP’s Kate Ryan contributed to this report.
PRACC results by the numbers
View state results below.