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Students continue to make progress toward meeting and exceeding expectations

Bernard C. "Jack" Young
Mayor, City of Baltimore

Cheryl A. Casciani
Chair, Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners

Dr. Sonja Brookins Santelises
Chief Executive Officer

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(Baltimore, MD) – Baltimore City Public Schools students continue to make progress, as seen in results from the 2017-18 PARCC tests released today by the Maryland State Department of Education. Sixty-eight schools saw increases from the prior year in percentage of students meeting or exceeding expectations in English language arts and math, up from 53  schools in 2016-17 and 32 schools in 2015-16. 

Map of Baltimore showing schools with gains in ELA and MathIn 2017-18, 44 schools saw increases of more than 5 percentage points in either English language arts or math over the prior year, with 12 schools showing gains of 5 or more points in both subjects; 16 of the 44 schools saw gains of 10 or more points in one or both subjects. Schools with significant gains include both traditional and charter schools across the city, serving students from the full range of economic backgrounds, including at schools in historically under-served and under-resourced neighborhoods.

“We are working urgently to improve the capacity of all our schools to support student success. PARCC is only one of the
ways we evaluate how effectively we’re meeting that goal, but it is an important measure—and I am pleased to see this continued forward momentum,” said City Schools CEO Sonja Brookins Santelises. “It’s particularly encouraging to see the range of schools showing significant growth, which tells me that accelerated progress can happen for all students,  regardless of their background or neighborhood. It will be a process of hard work over several years until all our schools are providing the programming and opportunities that enable all our students to reach their potential. But with these results, we have more schools leading by their example—and more students inspiring us with their accomplishments.”

For all students in all schools, the percentage who met or exceeded expectations (scoring at level 4 or 5 on the annual statewide tests) increased almost 2 points in English language arts and almost 1 point in math over the prior school year. Overall, the percentage of City Schools students scoring at level 4 or 5 continues to lag the state, with 17.8% meeting or exceeding expectations in English language arts and 12.8% reaching these levels in math.

Graph showing increase in percentage of students meeting or exceeding expectations“Besides the schools that had big gains in students who met or exceeded expectations, we have an increasing number of schools accelerating growth for students at all levels,” said Dr. Santelises. “When a student scored at level 1 in 3rd grade and reached level 3 last year in 4th grade, that’s a  significant accomplishment and should be a source of pride. With that
kind of growth, that young person has the skills, understanding, and momentum to meet or exceed expectations this year in 5th grade.”

For 2017-18, 35 elementary and middle schools saw high or very high rates of growth for students in English language arts, compared with 14 schools in 2016-17. In math, 29 schools saw high or very high growth, compared with 16 schools in the prior year. 

In 2017-18, City Schools developed a new blueprint to improve opportunities for success for all students. An early focus has been on deliberate, concentrated work to build the professional expertise and leadership of teachers and principals. Envisioned as a multi-year plan, the blueprint also emphasizes improving literacy achievement as the cornerstone of learning in all subjects and addressing the whole of students’ needs and interests with expanded access to advanced academic programs, real-world career experiences, arts, extracurricular and enrichment opportunities, and support for students’ social, emotional, and physical well-being.

“We are committed to providing high-quality learning experiences for students and families no matter what neighborhood they live in,” said Chief Academic Officer Sean Conley. “We’ve been doing this by developing strong principals and teachers through consistent professional learning tied directly to what is being taught in the classroom. We are emphasizing instruction that relates to students’ real experiences, with a new math curriculum last year and a new curriculum in English language arts for kindergarten through 8th grade this year. As part of our new blueprint, 20 of our schools now have coaches to support classroom teachers in building students’ skills in reading, writing, speaking, and listening. We’re also offering more programs for our gifted and advanced learners across the city, including in neighborhoods that have historically been underserved.”

Students in grades 3 to 8 and in several grades in high school take PARCC in English language arts and math. For 2017-18, gains were seen in almost every grade in both subjects. Among students in grades 3 to 8, 17.6% met or exceeded expectations in English language arts, a year-over-year increase of 2.5 points that outpaces the 1-point gain seen statewide; in math, 14.2% of 3rd- to 8th-grade students reached this level, an increase of 1.7 points that also outpaces the state’s 1-point gain. 

Tables showing percent scoring at level 4 or 5 by grade for ELA and Math

“These results show that we’re on the right path,” said Cheryl Casciani, chair of the Baltimore City Board of School Commissioners. “With our new blueprint, we’re confident that we are pursuing the right priorities to capitalize on this momentum and build the next generation of leaders, thinkers, and creators for our city. We’re looking forward to a successful school year ahead for all our students and schools.”

Baltimore City Public Schools serves close to 80,000 students in 172 schools and programs. For more about the district’s blueprint for success, visit www.baltimorecityschools.org/blueprint. For a list of schools with significant gains in students scoring at PARCC level 4 or 5 in 2017-18 over 2016-17, see below.

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Table listing schools with gains of 5 or more percentage points