Harford schools gain in English, math on Maryland Comprehensive Assessment Program

Aug. 24—English and math proficiency test scores are on the rise in Harford County Public Schools, according to the latest state standardized test results.

Spring 2023 scores for the Maryland Comprehensive Assessment Program were released Tuesday following a presentation by the Maryland State Department of Education.

Maryland Comprehensive Assessment Program test scores have been a concern shared at Harford County Board of Education meetings. Many parents expressed disappointment in poor student test results, but in a statement released shortly after the MCAP scores were announced, the school system said it was pleased with the outcome.

"The recently unveiled MCAP results reflect the dedicated efforts of students, educators, parents and the community at large," the statement read. "The district acknowledges the positive strides made in student performance across various subject areas, indicative of the ongoing commitment to enhancing education quality within Harford County Public Schools."

In Maryland, English Language Arts Literacy is tested in grades 3 through 8 and grade 10. In the 2021-22 school year assessment, 51.7% of county students in grades 3 through 5 scored proficient or advanced on the MCAP. In grades 6 through 8, 45.5% of students scored proficient or advanced, and 56.9% of Harford 10th graders scored proficient or advanced, according to a presentation by HCPS Supervisor of Accountability Phil Snyder at a board meeting earlier this year.

In the 2022-23 school year assessment for English Language Arts Literacy, proficient or advanced test scores in grades 3 through 5 increased to 55.1%; proficient or advanced test scores in grades 6 through 8 increased to 54%; and 59.1% of 10th graders scored proficient or advanced, according to data from the Maryland State Department of Education.

In the Baltimore region, Baltimore city and Baltimore, Anne Arundel, Howard and Harford counties all showed increases in third-grade reading proficiency, but Carroll County's percentage of proficient students decreased by 1.5%. Carroll, however, had the highest percentage of third graders proficient in English of the six area school districts with 62.8%.

"The district acknowledges the significance of these outcomes while underscoring the need for more time and data to establish a comprehensive comparison, as the MCAP underwent substantial changes just two years ago," the Harford school system said in its statement.

Maryland's eighth graders, who are transitioning to high school, scored the largest increase in proficiency, growing 4.1 percentage points to 46.8% proficient. Tenth graders, who are the last grade level with an MCAP test, had a small increase in proficiency from 2022 to 2023 but still had the highest proficiency level of all tested grade levels at 53.5%.

In the 2021-22 school year assessment for math, the decrease in students scoring proficient or advanced emphasized the major changes made to the assessment, according to school officials.

For students in grades 3 through 5, 35% of students in the county scored proficient or advance; in grades 6 through 8, not including middle school students who took algebra 1 or geometry, 14.7% scored proficient or advanced; and 14.1% of high school and middle school students who took the assessment for algebra 1 or geometry scored proficient or advanced.

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In 2023, Harford County students in grades 3 through 7 showed improvement in math proficiency with the exception of grade 6. Students in grades 3 through 5 test scores increased to 40.2% proficient or advanced, and grade 7 students test scores increased from 10.9% in 2022 to 13.2% in 2023.

Students in grade 6 decreased from 23.1% in 2022 to 21.9% in 2023. Data from spring 2022 was not available for eighth grade students because the proficiency number was less than 5%, however for 2023, proficiency scores rose to 5.4%.

Algebra 1 proficiency in Harford County increased from 14.1% in 2022 to 17.7% in 2023; algebra 2 proficiency in Harford County increased from 9.6% in 2022 to 18.9% in 2023; and geometry proficiency scores increased from 7.7% in 2022 to 9.6% in 2023.

Maryland students in grades three through eight improved in their math proficiency over last year, according to a news release from the Maryland State Department of Education. This student group is 25% proficient in math statewide, with individual school districts ranging from 9% to 47% proficiency. State proficiency in Algebra 1 — with students being tested from grades seven to 12, depending on when they take the course — stands at 17%.

Science scores are back to pre-pandemic levels for Maryland fifth graders reaching proficiency, a percentage that grew from 31% to 35%. But proficiency for eighth graders decreased from 35% to 26%.

In Harford County, proficiency scores in grade 5 increased from 33.5% in 2022 to 40.3% in 2023 and proficiency scores in grade 8 decreased from 43.0% in 2022 to 32.7% in 2023.

"These improvements are a testament to the unwavering dedication of our educators, families and communities championing our students' futures," State Superintendent of Schools Mohammed Choudhury said in a news release. "While we celebrate this progress, we are acutely aware of the challenges that lie ahead, especially for our historically underserved students. Our post-pandemic MCAP data is a clear call to action to elevate student engagement and achievement, particularly in math and middle grades."