By Alex DeMetrick

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) —  A new test for Maryland high school students is turning previous scores upside down.

Alex DeMetrick reports the test finds most aren’t ready for college or a job.

When you’re a student, tests are a way of life—but some tests are bigger than others. In Maryland, it was the High School Standardized Assessment. Last year, almost 85% of tenth graders passed and nearly 90% of seniors. Now a new test and new scores are out.

What the Maryland Board of Education heard was not pretty. The new replacement test, called PARCC, found just over 31% of high schoolers reached level four and five, passing grades for Algebra 1. In Algebra 2, it dropped to just over 20%. English 10, fewer than 40% met passing levels.

“Obviously you didn’t expect these scores to be incredibly high but I don’t think we expected them to be as low as they are, either,” said Dr. Michelle Jenkins Guyton, Maryland School Board.

“This particular test was a wake-up call for a lot of teachers across our state as well as a lot of students,” said Dr. Henry Johnson, Maryland Department of Education.

“I am extremely unhappy with the present parent report,” said Chester Finn, Jr., Maryland School Board. “Parents receiving a score of three, two or one need to be told in so many words that your child is not on course for college and career.”

It’s just one of the bugs the Board wants worked out as Maryland begins adopting more rigorous standards.

Testing and test results also puts teachers in the crosshairs.

“We can’t continually test them and expect them to improve. We have to put the money and time and emphasis on the instruction program,” said Cheryl Bost, Maryland State Education Association.

Meaning more time to teach what’s needed to learn, not just practicing for the test.

“This type of assessment is not going to go away,” Johnson said.

Not with the world beyond high school growing increasingly knowledge-based.

Because the new test is in the early stages of use, it will not be used this year to determine if a student has met the requirements to graduate.

Alex DeMetrick

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