Report: Six Out of 10 MCPS High School Seniors Met College, Career Readiness Targets

Report: Six Out of 10 MCPS High School Seniors Met College, Career Readiness Targets

Superintendent presents new round of data on student learning for 2016-2017

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About 60 percent of high school seniors in Montgomery County Public Schools have met college and career readiness standards, according to data presented Monday to education officials.

The report on the readiness levels of roughly 11,900 seniors prompted school board members to suggest earlier intervention so students stay on course as they near graduation.

“Clearly, there should’ve been early warning indicators that this student has not been on the right track,” school board member Patricia O’Neill said.

School board member Rebecca Smondrowski said officials should figure out why some students are falling short of the readiness standards, whether it’s because they don’t test well or need more support from the school system.

Superintendent Jack Smith reviewed the readiness data as part of a larger presentation on student performance measures during the 2016-2017 school year. MCPS leaders have spent the past year designing a new method for tracking student progress, drawing together information from classwork, district-level testing and state assessments.

On Monday, Smith laid out complete data for students in grades 2, 5, 8 and 11, who were evaluated for their readiness to transition into intermediate, middle or high school or to graduate.

The section dedicated to the Class of 2018 included results from college and career readiness assessments that students must take in 11th grade. Under a state law passed in 2013, if students don’t meet the readiness standards in English and math, they must enroll in a transition course or finish another instructional project in their senior year.

Students can fulfill the requirements by achieving certain scores on the SAT, the ACT, Advanced Placement exams or other tests. About 74 percent of MCPS seniors reached the benchmark for literacy and 64 percent hit the goal for math, the data show.

Students don’t need to meet those academic standards to graduate, but school board members and Smith said the district must go above and beyond to prepare students for college or the workforce.

“We’ve got to do more than just get kids to walk across that stage,” Smondrowski said.

Smith told the board that overall, student performance on tests varies widely based on poverty levels, English language proficiency and length of time with MCPS.

About 83 percent of eighth-graders who spent the past three years at MCPS met literacy readiness measures, compared to 60 percent of students who had arrived more recently.

In math, 75 percent of eighth-graders hit the mark if they’d been enrolled with MCPS for three years, while only 55 percent of others in the grade, who had been there a shorter period, met the readiness target.

School board members said the trends illustrate the effect that MCPS has on student learning over time and that county leaders should take note as they begin discussing education funding for the coming year.

Bethany Rodgers can be reached at bethany.rodgers@bethesdamagazine.com.

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