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MSA Test Results Show Slight Improvement In Baltimore City Schools

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BALTIMORE (WJZ)—New numbers show a slight improvement in the education of Baltimore City schools, but there is still a long way to go.

Rochelle Ritchie has a look at the Maryland State Assessment results.

The results are mixed for city schools, revealing the challenges ahead.

Superintendent Dr. Andres Alonso revealed the results for the 2012 MSA test. The results are not bad but not good.

“The numbers matter, and they matter tremendously,” Alonso said.

Baltimore City schools numbers remained fairly dormant to last year.

Math scores in city schools — grades three through eight — are up 2 percentage points from 2011 where 61.2 percent of students scored at proficient or advanced. This year it’s just over 63 percent.

“Summer school last year was all about math because we knew math was the subject where we needed to make the best progress,” Alonso said.

Focusing solely on math seems to have hurt the numbers for reading, which decreased nearly 2 percent from 69 percent to just under 68 percent.

“For new entrance into the system, what we’re seeing is a far worse performance in terms of reading than we’re seeing in math,” Alonso said.

Across the state, nearly 90 percent of elementary students passed the reading and math test, and more than 80 percent are meeting state standards.

Gilmor Elementary school principal says his school was on the lowest performing elementary school in the city last year. Improvement in teaching strategies helped to boost scores.

“We had the largest growth in reading by 16 points and in math by 20 points,” said Felipe Jackson, principal.

Alonso says while the numbers are improving, decreasing suspensions and increasing attendance will help the scores too.

“Twelve-14 percent of our kids were chronically absent, and if there is a 22 point difference that’s a huge challenge,” Alonso said.

Instruction is being missed even when students are chronically late.

Alonso says though students are gaining on the test it’s a test that’s insufficient for their future.

“There is no writing in the MSAs. If you have a test that doesn’t include writing, schools will not teach writing,” he said.

Baltimore City schools will implement a new test in 2015 that focuses on the basics of reading and math but also writing and problem solving.

In Anne Arundel County, 90 percent of students passed reading and math. In Howard County, 95 percent passed.

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