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HCPSS Scores on State Assessments Outpace Maryland Norms

August 29th, 2018

Howard County public school students continue to demonstrate improvements in English language arts and mathematics achievement, as reflected in 2018 state assessment scores released by the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE).

 The state assessments are based on materials developed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC). The tests are rigorous and were designed to evaluate real-world skills that are essential to career and college readiness, such as solving problems and constructing effective written responses, which are not assessed through most other formal measures.

The assessments use a five-point score scale, with students performing at levels 4 and 5 considered “proficient” and on track to graduate high school prepared to succeed in college and careers.

Testing at the elementary and middle school levels includes English language arts (ELA) and mathematics. The 2018 ELA results in Grades 3–5 show a slight decline over last year’s scores, with 55.7 percent of students achieving at levels 4 and 5 combined, compared to 56.9 percent last year. Performance for HCPSS students overall was 14.3 percentage points above the state average of 41.4 percent.

Howard County ELA results for Grades 6–8 showed improvement, with 57.0 percent testing at levels 4–5, compared to 55.5 percent last year, and exceeded the 41.8 percent Maryland average by 15.2 percentage points.

Grade 3–5 mathematics results rose slightly, with 56.7 percent of HCPSS elementary students performing at levels 4 and 5 combined, compared to 56.2 percent last year. The scores outpaced the state 39.7 percent average by 17 percentage points.

Middle school mathematics scores also improved, with 54.6 percent of students achieving or exceeding college readiness targets, compared to 53.5 percent in 2017. Middle school grade level math scores are not comparable at the state level, because a large proportion of students begin advanced level mathematics in these grades, and course sequence practices vary widely among school systems.

At the high school level, the percentage of students scoring at level 4 or 5 on the English language arts 10 and Algebra I assessments fell back in 2017-18 for both HCPSS and Maryland, but an MSDE analysis found this was likely due to the large number of repeat test takers on both tests. On the 2018 Algebra I assessment, 57.0 percent of HCPSS students achieved at levels 4 and 5 combined, a decline from the 62.6 percent performance in 2017, but nearly 26 percentage points above the state average of 31.2 percent.

On the ELA 10 assessment, 60.9 percent of HCPSS students are at levels 4 and 5 combined, a decline from 65.2 percent last year, but exceeding the Maryland 42.4 percent average by 18.5 percentage points.

The full results are available at