Maryland Students Bounce Back In Math And ELA After Pandemic Setbacks: 2022-2023 MCAP Results


The MCAP assessments gauge students' grasp of English/Language Arts, mathematics, and science at grade-level standards. (Image Credit: Shutterstock)

MARYLAND - Recent data from the Maryland Comprehensive Assessment Program (MCAP) reveals improvements in education, particularly in English Language Arts (ELA) and mathematics.

According to the Maryland Department of Education (MDSE), student performance in ELA has reached a nine-year high, with the most significant single-year gain noted in grades 3-8. Meanwhile, math proficiency rates show signs of recovering from pandemic-induced learning setbacks.

"The investments in the Blueprint for Maryland's Future, along with emergency federal funding, underscore our state's focus on the success of our children," said Clarence C. Crawford, President of the MSBE. "As we note improvements between the 2022 and 2023 data, we remain committed to ensuring every student in Maryland reaches their full academic and personal potential."

ELA proficiency rates across grades 3-8 reached 47% in the 2022-2023 school year, a significant jump from the 44% observed in the 2018-2019 school year. The English 10 assessment also showcased considerable improvement, with 54% of students achieving proficiency - an 11 percentage point increase from the 43% in the 2018-2019 school year.

The state has strategically invested in schools and educators to boost reading readiness by the end of third grade. These efforts include the Maryland Leads grant initiative, which uses federal funds to address learning loss, bridge educational disparities, and better support underserved students.

"This year's results set a new post-pandemic baseline, but it's more than just a starting point. It reflects our state's steadfast commitment to academic excellence," said State Superintendent of Schools Mohammed Choudhury.

The uplifting trends extend across most student groups, including the historically underserved. Black/African American students witnessed a six percentage point rise in ELA proficiency in grades 3-8, moving from 28% in 2018-2019 to 34% in 2022-2023. Students with Disabilities also made significant strides, recording a four percentage point increase to 12% proficiency in the most recent assessment. Additionally, economically disadvantaged students showcased a 7% improvement in ELA proficiency rates.

Although less encouraging than the gains in ELA proficiency, MDSE also noted signs of recovery in mathematics proficiency, especially compared to scores achieved during the pandemic.

For the 2022-2023 school year, 25% of students in grades 3 through 8 were proficient in mathematics, a slight uptick from the 22% in the 2021-2022 school year. This increase was more pronounced among economically disadvantaged students, who saw a 4% year-over-year increase in their proficiency rates in mathematics. In Algebra I assessments, 17% of students achieved proficiency, marking a three percentage-point improvement over the previous school year.

"While these gains are modest, they represent a positive trajectory, affirming that the targeted math interventions we've implemented are starting to pay off," Choudhury added.

MSDE recently announced that the state would invest up to $10 million to establish the Maryland Tutoring Corps, aimed primarily at supporting students who are not proficient in mathematics. In addition, under the Blueprint for Maryland's Future, rigorous criteria will be implemented for selecting high-quality instructional materials that are "content-rich and culturally responsive."

Additionally, MSDE will collaborate with Local Education Agencies (LEAs) next school year to host learning labs focusing on best practices in elementary mathematics instruction. These labs aim to provide educators with the skills needed to improve student outcomes and create a culture prioritizing effective mathematics instruction.

"Our multipronged approach is designed not just to recover lost ground but to propel Maryland's students to new heights in mathematical understanding," said Clarence C. Crawford, President of the Maryland State Board of Education.

Science scores also showed marginal improvement - 35% of grade five science students met grade-level proficiency in 2022-2023, up from 31% in the 2021-2022 academic year. However, the data also indicated some areas requiring urgent attention, particularly grade 8 science proficiency.

Eighth graders saw a decline in science proficiency rates from 35% in 2021-2022 to 26% in 2022-2023. This decrease, observed across various student groups, was attributed to disruptions experienced during the primarily virtual 2020-2021 academic year. Importantly, current eighth-graders did not participate in the grade 5 science assessments due to a waiver granted by the U.S. Department of Education in spring 2020.

"The drop in grade 8 science proficiency is concerning and highlights the long-term impacts of educational disruptions. It underscores the importance of our ongoing efforts to make science education more robust and effective, beginning from the foundational years," Crawford said.

State Superintendent of Schools Mohammed Choudhury said that while the latest MCAP data calls for celebration, it also serves as a reminder of the challenges that lie ahead, particularly for historically underserved students.

"Our post-pandemic MCAP data is a call to action to elevate student engagement and achievement, especially in math and middle grades," he said. "Our goal is unequivocal: to have all Maryland students college and career-ready," said Choudhury. "We are unrelenting in our mission to narrow and ultimately close opportunity and achievement gaps."

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Wow! Interesting they boast that Blk/AA students are now showing proficiency in ELA  at 34%, and kids overall are showing only 25% proficiency in Math and a complete failure at only 17% in Algebra1. Good thing Mr Choudry and Mr Crawford have ultra-high paying government positions with huge government pensions to look forward to. With their “ongoing efforts”, the whole Maryland public school system will be “historically underserved” in a few more years. 
But request the Maryland Legislature in  Annapolis to institute “school choice” for us taxpaying parents and they will say it is you who are trying to deny “underserved” kids a decent education. Sorry, but the government has the monopoly on this big fat failure.
Good article Mr Fisher. 

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