Md. students show progress toward pre-pandemic levels; concerns remain in some areas

Maryland students have shown improvement in English, but show some dips in math on the state’s most recent assessments administered in spring.

According to the state department of education, the scores on the Maryland Comprehensive Assessment Program showed students approaching pre-pandemic performance on the English and language arts segments, with 53% of 10th graders scoring proficient. The year before, 57% were found to be proficient.

For sixth-graders, the results were not as encouraging. Last fall, 53% of sixth graders scored proficient in English and language arts. According to the latest assessment in spring, 44% hit the proficient benchmark.

Math scores saw improvements at most grade levels, with the exception of students in sixth grade. In spring, 18% of those students were rated proficient, compared to 21% in fall 2021.

At Tuesday’s meeting of the Maryland State Board of Education, State Superintendent Mohammed Choudhury commented on the findings that showed an uptick in the number of children found to be “kindergarten-ready.”

According to tests administered by teachers at the start of the school year, 42% of kindergartners were found ready for school. That’s a bump of 2 percentage points.

“Before the pandemic, less than 50% of the kids entering kindergarten were kindergarten ready,” Choudhury told state board members. “So we went from 47, took a dive in the 40s, and now we’re trending back up.”

The tests include a teacher’s observations of students in four areas, including math, language and literacy, social behaviors, and physical well-being.

One school board member, Joan Mele-McCarthy, voiced concerns on the results for English language learners and students with disabilities.

“Unless we do something for those babies, we’re not going to get differences when it comes to schools,” Mele-McCarthy said, calling for action on the two groups of children early on. Because unless they do, she said, “We’re still not going to see any kind of changes when they get to school. They’re so behind the eight ball.”

Choudhury said he agreed with Mele-McCarthy, and added that he’s focused on the issue.

Maryland’s school reform plan, formally known as the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, calls for expanding free pre-K to all children in need within 10 years. Choudhury pointed out that Maryland Governor-Elect Wes Moore is “all in” on making that happen sooner.

Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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