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State Assessment Scores Rise in English Language Arts

BALTIMORE  –Results of the latest Maryland state assessments found improvements in English language arts scores across the grade levels.

Complete 2019 Maryland assessment results in English/language arts and mathematics were released today in a presentation before the Maryland State Board of Education. Maryland assessments are scored on a 650 to 850-point scale, which is divided into five performance levels, with level 1 set as not meeting expectations and level 5 set as exceeding expectations. Performance level 4 or 5 is considered ‘proficient’ on the assessment by the Maryland State Board of Education.

The percent of students attaining a performance level 4 or 5 on English/language arts exams in grades 3-8 improved more than two percentage points over last school year, increasing to 43.7 percent. Students improved modestly on the high school assessment (English/language arts 10) as well: 42.6 percent earned a level 4 or 5, which is a 0.2 percentage point increase from 2018.  Results for mathematics varied by test, with modest progress in grade three. However, there were decreases in the percent of students scoring performance level 4 or 5 for students in all other grades. A major emphasis in analyzing math results has been initiated at the State level.

“The results show progress in English/language arts, 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 Dr. Karen Salmon, State Superintendent of Schools. “This information will be used by educators in combination with class work, independently administered assessments, and other academic data to fuel and strengthen student outcomes. Analyzing assessment results and continuously monitoring students’ performance is an important step towards improvement.”

Highlights of the 2018-2019 Maryland assessment results include:

  • Since the first PARCC-based Maryland Assessments in 2015, performance has improved significantly. The biggest mathematics gains have come in grades 3, 4, and 5, while the top English/language arts improvements have been registered in grades 4, 6, 7 and 8.


  • African American students improved by approximately two percentage points on English/language arts assessments at all grade levels. Hispanic students also improved at elementary and middle grade levels, up 2.4 points from 2018.


  • Students receiving special services also improved on both exams in grades 3-8. The percent of English learners scoring at level 4 or 5 in grades 3-8 improved 1.4 percentage points in English/language arts; students with disabilities increased one percentage point in English/language arts. Both groups also made modest gains in mathematics as well.


  • While the overall percentage of students scoring at level 4 or 5 on the high school-level English/language arts grade 10 assessment increased by only 0.2 percentage points from the previous year, an MSDE analysis found performance of first-time test takers on this test increased by 4.3 percentage points.


  • Eighteen of Maryland’s 24 school systems saw statistically significant improvements in elementary and middle school English/language arts, while 6 recorded no significant change and no school system had a decrease.

Scores on the assessments are used for school system and school-level accountability purposes as part of Maryland’s Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) plan. Several other academic and non-academic indicators are included in the State Report Card’s school score, which will be updated later this year.

The 2018-2019 school year was the final year that state assessments utilized materials developed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career.  Beginning with the 2019-2020 school year, students will be assessed under the new Maryland Comprehensive Assessment Program (MCAP).  The MCAP assessments will focus on the same academic content standards in English/Language Arts and Math as previous years, but with new items developed by Maryland educators. These assessments are designed to provide students, parents, and teachers with an understanding of student progress toward graduation and workforce readiness.