UPPER MARLBORO — The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) released the results of their annual Maryland Comprehensive Assessment Program (MCAP) on Aug. 27, which showed improvements statewide, including in Prince George’s County Schools (PGCPS), in English/language arts.
Students across the state attained a proficient score in English/language arts (ELA) were 43.7% of students in third through eighth grades increased their score by 2% over last year’s tests and 42.6% of high school students earned a proficient score, a 0.2% increase over last year. Meanwhile, PGCPS scored below the state average but saw a small percentage increase in ELA scores for grades three through eight.
“Our results mirror the gains and losses the state displayed last year and will require a deeper analysis on how each school performed relative to the county and state,” PGCPS CEO Monica Goldson said in a statement. “We spent time this summer revising mathematics curriculum documents and other instructional materials to better meet all students’ needs.”
In the announcement, results shown in ELA and mathematics varied by grade level, according to MSDE. The assessments were scored on a scale of 650 to 850 points and divided into five levels; level one means unsatisfactory and level five means exceeds expectations.
Statewide, mathematics scores did not show much improvement. Third graders made modest progress while there were decreases in all other grade levels. Because of this, the state has initiated a major emphasis on analyzing math test scores.
“The results show progress in ELA, especially at the elementary and middle school levels. The results also illustrate that we need to continue supporting learning for all Maryland students, especially in certain grade levels and subjects,” said State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Karen Salmon.
Demographically, African Americans throughout the state improved their ELA test scores by 2% in all grade levels and Hispanic students improved by the same amount in elementary school and middle school.
Students receiving special services, such as English language learners and students with disabilities improved in third through eighth grade and made gains in mathematics.
Overall, 18 of Maryland’s 24 school systems saw significant improvements with elementary and middle school ELA. Six of those school systems saw no change but no school system saw any decrease in scores.
For example, PGCPS saw improvements that mirrored the state with growth across all grade levels in ELA but most grade levels dropped off in mathematics. The school system remained stagnant in mathematics scores for those grade levels but saw a 2.02% decrease in scores for Algebra I.
Coming into this year, each school developed a school performance plan and PGCPS is currently finalizing its own District Performance Plan, Goldson said. This plan will guide the efforts of the school system as they continue to improve over last year.
“MCAP scores are one of multiple progress indicators towards our goal of college and career readiness,” Goldson said. “From the first day of school to the end of the 2019-2020 academic year, we will continue supporting teachers and students while engaging parents to prepare children for success.”
In addition to celebrating their gains in MCAP scores, PGCPS announced 22 new principals who will be joining the school system this year. These include Keshia Hogue of Benjamin D. Foulois Creative & Performing Arts Academy, Courtney Forbes of Gwynn Park Middle School, Shawn Hintz of Thomas S. Stone Elementary School and Rodrick Hobbs of Andrew Jackson Academy.
Sharon Porter is coming on as the new principal of Rose Valley Elementary School. With a 23-year history in Prince George’s County, Porter has been a principal in PGCPS on and off for the past 10 years with her first experience at Lamont Elementary School in 2008.
For the past few years, she has been working in the PGCPS’ Central Office as the coordinator for new principals and assistant principals. After time away, Porter said now was the perfect time to return to the schoolhouse.
“It was confirmed how much I missed the interaction with students because I didn’t have that contact,” Porter said as she described how much she enjoyed the new student orientation in the week before school began. “The impact that I really hope to make is that they really and truly feel like that when they come to school, it is really an extension of the family.”
Porter has already started implementing tools for success in her school with her Strive For Five Theme where she encourages her students to earn five stars in things like academic achievement, attendance and character. She has also started a Rose Valley podcast to highlight things happening around the school.
“I feel like a brand new leader with all of the knowledge that I feel like I have that I didn’t have when I was a school leader before,” Porter said. “I’m really looking forward to really connecting with families and the community, the business partnerships. That’s one of the things I have really focused on coming in.”
As the school year gets underway, some PGCPS schools are still looking for a permanent principal. CMIT North, Dr. Henry A. Wise Jr. High School, Marlton Elementary School and Laurel High School currently have acting principals while CMIT South, Dora Kennedy French Immersion and Imagine Lincoln have interim principals.