Notes on 2017 PARCC Results

by Lori Morrow

Results for the PARCC Assessments taken in Spring 2017 were the main discussion item at the PGCPS Board of Education meeting on September 19, 2017.  PARCC stands for the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers. It is a set of annual tests in English/Language Arts and Mathematics that students take in grades 3-12 during April and May.  More information about PARCC can be found online at or

  • The Maryland State Department of Education released this year’s PARCC scores near the end of August 2017.  Results for all state, county and individual school results are available online at
  • All students who took PARCC tests should receive individual score sheets from their schools.  If you have not received your results, contact your school’s Testing Coordinator.  Information about understanding the score sheets is online at Dr. Goldson mentioned that PGCPS will not be presenting “PARCC Nights” like previous years due to low attendance during the 2016-17 School Year.


Dr. Goldson’s presentation begins with the overview and Elementary School Scores:

  • Grades 3-5: Increases in all ELA/Math scores by grade except for a decrease for Math 5. Despite increases, PGCPS is still well below the state average for both assessments. For all demographics, students did better on ELA than they did for Math. Most demographic subgroups showed improvement from SY2016 to SY2017.

Middle School Scores:

  • Grades 6-8: Slight decrease for student performance in grades 6-8 on both ELA and Mathematics assessments.  The only increase in results was at Grade 7, which was due to clarification from MSDE that students should take the assessment for their grade level.  All demographic subgroups did better on ELA assessments than they did in Math.  Asian and white students outperformed African American students, but it also must be noted that the number of African American students in PGCPS significantly exceeds the number of Asian and white students.  Most groups at the middle school level showed minimal growth or a slight decrease.

High School Scores (includes middle school students who take Algebra):

  • For both the English 10 and Algebra, PGCPS continues to fall well below the state average.  English 11, Algebra 2 and Geometry scores are discussed, but those are used to meet requirements for the College and Career Ready Act of 2013 instead of accountability.  Not all school districts have students taking those assessments.
  • Average scores for English 10, English 11, Algebra 1 and Geometry decreased this year.  The only assessment that showed an increase was Algebra 2.  For Algebra 1, average scores increased for White, Hispanic, Free and Reduced Meals (FARMS) qualifying, and Special Education students but decreased for Asian, African American and Limited English subgroups. For English 10, the only increase in average score was for the White student subgroup.

Content teams for Math, ELA, SPED and ESOL presented strategies and solutions regarding Parental Engagement, Curriculum, Assessment Literacy, and Professional Development. In a general sense, much of it involves revising the curriculum to more closely align with the state standards; training teachers and administrators on how to analyze and use the assessment data; and tailoring instruction practices to meet the needs of individual students.  Dr. Goldson pointed out that the strategies have been incorporated into the PGCPS Literacy and Numeracy plans.

  • Presentation by Math content team:


A small sample of the questions:

  1. Question from Mr. Wallace about the actual numbers of students passing exams by subgroup (since graphs are provided as percentages).  While Asian and White percentages are higher, the actual number of students in each of those subgroups is significantly lower than the number of African American students in PGCPS.  Breakdowns by individual PARCC Level (1-5) and subgroup are available on the MSDE website.
  2. Questions from Ms. Boston regarding new strategies that have been added (there have been curriculum audits and revisions based on teacher feedback that are incorporated into Literacy & Numeracy Plans); data on literacy/numeracy coaches (PGCPS is working on a pre/post survey but will not have data until the end of the school year); and parental engagement/support for students (some schools have programs for after-school support but they are unique to the school/community needs and offerings instead of a systemic program).
  3. Question from Ms. Ahmed about increased scores at Heather Hills.  Dr. Goldson answered that many TAG/specialty programs do have higher scores than PGCPS average.
  4. Question from Ms. Williams about looking at results from each grade cohort/same students from one year to the next instead of comparing this year’s 5th graders to last year’s 5th graders. Dr. Goldson answered that they are still analyzing the results. Last year they did an in-depth analysis in Academic Achievement committee and saw an increase in most grade levels.
  5. Questions from Mr. Burroughs (focusing on HS Math) about what is being done at schools with very low proficiency levels; correlations between test scores and passing the class, and what staff are doing for schools that aren’t improving.  It varies depending on the different factors for each school. Dr. Goldson noted that some students did get moved on to Geometry even though they didn’t pass Algebra, but that should not be happening any more.

Quote from Dr. Goldson, “Every student learns differently and every student assesses differently, and what we do know by research is that typically African American students and students of color do not do well on assessments similar to the PARCC assessments.” Dr. Davis also emphasized that PARCC is not the only assessment to determine whether students are College & Career Ready. We also look at SAT, ACT, AP exams and Accuplacer.

Questions from Dr. Eubanks about our performance relative to the state and about high-performing schools that are not specialty/TAG centers.  Dr. Goldson said they are still doing analysis on those numbers and will provide additional information.  Also asked about how we are using/reallocating our resources and whether or not we are focusing on the right things.

Read the Sentinel article, “Board of Ed Asks for Better Strategies After Small PARCC Gains, Setbacks

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