Parent Calls for Improvement Plan Instead of $120k Survey

Lori Morrow presented a version of this testimony during the public comment portion of the May 12th Board of Education Meeting. The views expressed are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Prince George’s County Advocates for Better Schools.

by Lori Morrow

A few weeks ago, I watched the April 28th Board of Education meeting at home and
was surprised to hear about a $120,000 survey to determine community
perceptions of PGCPS. I agree with comments made by some board members that
night: We already know many of the negative perceptions that persist from existing surveys.

IMG_0510A few months ago, I noticed each of the school pages on the PGCPS website includes a link to the 2013 School Climate Survey, as well as a note indicating the next biannual survey would be published in Fall 2015. I recall getting an email to fill out the survey last June, and know that my son participated in a survey this school year.

I’ve been attempting to get a copy of this climate survey report and, after more than two months and many emails, I was finally able to access a copy of the report this very morning from a helpful staff member in the Research and Evaluation Department. I was particularly interested in the report for my son’s middle school because of comments I regularly hear from him. While a quick comparison with the 2013 report does show some improvement for the school, a number of areas are rather disappointing.

For example:

  •  31% of Parents disagree with the statement that they are proud to send their
    child to this school
  • 31% of Parents do not believe that teachers will provide students individual
    attention if needed.
  • 44% of Students disagree with the statement that they feel safe in school.
  • 61% of Students do not believe that students respect the authority of
    teachers at this school.
  • 54% of Students do not feel like they are an important part of their school
    community.

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PGCPS Elementary Foreign Language Offerings

by Katherine McElhenny

IMG_7154Have you ever wondered about the foreign language offerings at your local elementary school? Or how your school compares to others in the district?

No? Neither had I until recently.

Our family was out at a restaurant when we ran into a friend whose daughter had attended nursery school with my daughter. Immediately, the two kindergartners began comparing their schools. Our friend was proud of her brand new uniforms and Chinese classes. My daughter boasted of her Russian classes.

The parents were taken aback.

Chinese? Russian? Who knew? What was offered elsewhere? My curiosity was piqued.

A compilation of the district’s foreign language offerings was nowhere to be found on the PGCPS website.  Instead, the chart below was cobbled together from emails and calls to the World Language Office along with teachers and staff at individual schools.

Is your elementary school one of over one hundred that is not listed?  According to PGCPS, those students do not receive any foreign language instruction.

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Prince George’s County PARCC Results Released for Elementary and Middle Schools

by Genevieve Demos Kelley

classroomThe elementary and middle school test results for the new Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) in English Language Arts/ Literacy (ELA) and mathematics are now available on the Maryland State Department of Education’s Maryland Report Card. According to the PGCPS news release, home reports will be distributed next Monday.

Maryland is one of a shrinking number of states committed to using the new test, which was administered for the first time during the spring of the 2014-2015 school year.

Here are some key points from the data:

Fewer PGCPS Students Passed AP Exams in 2015

by Genevieve Demos Kelley

Earlier this year, we ran a story noting the six-year upward trend in Advanced Placement (AP) exam participation among students in Prince George’s County Schools. Between 2008 and 2014, participation in the AP program grew, while passing rates held steady. (Scores of three or higher, out of a possible five points, are considered passing.)

But according to numbers released on the 2015 Maryland Report Card, both the number of exams taken and the overall passing rate have declined slightly this year. Mathematics exams saw the biggest drop with a passing rate of 15.8% and 109 out of 692 exams receiving a passing score in 2015, compared with last year’s passing rate  of 19.1%, with 161 successful exams out of a total of 841 exams taken.

2008 2014 2015
AP Subject Description Exams with Scores 3-5/ Exams Taken
(%Exams w/ Scores 3-5)
Exams with Scores 3-5/ Exams Taken
(%Exams w/ Scores 3-5)
Exams with Scores 3-5/ Exams Taken
(%Exams w/ Scores 3-5)
All Subjects 2150/7829 (27.5%) 2606/9660 (27%) 2443/9452 (25.8%)
All Fine Arts 55/120 (45.8%) 130/267 (48.7%) 95/267 (35.6%)
All English Language Arts 593/2313 (25.6%) 623/2737 (22.8%) 625/2684 (23.3%)
All Foreign Language 191/301 (63.5%) 227/308  (73.7%) 183/251 (72.9%)
All Mathematics 180/753 (23.9%) 161/841  (19.1%) 109/692 (15.8%)
All Science 682/2341 (29.1%) 775/2791 (27.8%) 778/2616 (29.7%)
All Social Studies 449/2001 (22.4%) 690/2716 (25.4%) 618/2880 (21.5%)

Source: Maryland Report Card

These numbers don’t look good, but it’s not all bad news. Let’s take a closer look at the data and put the numbers in context:

Slight Decline in Prince George’s SAT Scores for 2015

by Genevieve Demos Kelley

The 2015 SAT scores for Prince George’s County high schools are now available on the Maryland Report Card. Though the school system’s average math subscore was three points higher this year than last year, 2015 saw a slight decline in both the mean composite SAT score and the number of test takers.

The table below shows the average reading, math, and writing subscores and the average composite SAT scores for 2015 college bound seniors in each of the county’s public high schools, as well as the average scores for PGCPS and the state of Maryland. Next to each score, the change from the previous year, 2014, is displayed in either red or green. For example, in Bladensburg High School, the average reading SAT score was 371 in 2015, 31 points lower than it was in 2014. The average math score was 384, two points higher than in 2014.

sat2015v2

Mean SAT scores for college-bound seniors, as reported by the MSDE on the 2015 Maryland Report Card; changes (+/-) from 2014.

To find SAT scores for your school, for every year from 2008 to 2015, go to the Maryland Report Card and hover over the “School” tab. Choose “Prince George’s County” from the pull-down menu, then find your school. Click to open the SAT pdf file, found under the “Graphs and Tables” heading.

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PARCC Results Released for Prince George’s County

According to a PGCPS news release, the school system has received the PARCC results for the English 10, Algebra 1, and Algebra 2 tests. The new PARCC tests were administered for the first time in the spring of this year. Scores for elementary and middle school tests will be released in early December. (Update: Click here to read our story on the PARCC results for grades 3 through 8.)

Tests are scored with on a five-point grading scale, with a score of 4 indicating that expectations were met and 5 indicating that the student exceeded expectations. On the whole, Prince George’s County’s results were poor compared with the statewide results, but some PGCPS subgroups fared better than their peers: For example, 13.4% of African American students in Prince George’s County scored at a Level 4 or 5, compared with 12.8% of African American students statewide.

On the English 10 test, 28.9% of PGCPS students scored a 4 or 5, compared with 39.7% in the state of Maryland. On the Algebra 1 test, 15.1% of county students scored a 4 or 5, compared with 31.2% of students statewide. In Algebra 2, 8.3% scored a 4 or 5, compared with 23.2% of students in the state.

Read the full news release here.

To find a detailed breakdown of scores, including scores by racial/ethnic subgroup and other groups (e.g. FARMs qualifying, English language learners), go to the Maryland Report Card. Find scores for each school system in Maryland by selecting the county or city under the “County” pulldown menu.

Below is a roundup of what major news outlets have to say about the results:

  • The Washington Post reports that less than half of the Montgomery County students who took the Algebra and English tests and less than a third of those in Prince George’s County students are considered on track for college and careers, according to the PARCC test results. But deputy superintendent Shawn Joseph pointed out that Prince George’s County scores look better when broken down by racial subgroup: white students in the county outperformed their peers across the state on all three exams, and African American students beat state averages on two of the three exams.

Demographic Shifts Accompany Growth in PGCPS Enrollment

by Genevieve Demos Kelley

The 2015 Maryland Report Card is here. The 2015 data are not released all at once; county-specific numbers about standardized assessments and graduation rates will be published later. But in the meantime, the report has some interesting things to say about demographic trends in enrollment.

Enrollment in Prince George’s County Public Schools has been increasing since 2013, reversing a nine-year decline. The 2015 enrollment for PGCPS is 127,576, an increase of 2,440 students from 2014 enrollment and a total increase of 3,839 students since 2013.

But not all racial/ethnic subgroups are seeing growth. Though African American students still make up the largest subgroup (62.7% of all students), enrollment among African American students has declined over the last two years, from 81,786 in 2013, to 80,821 in 2014, to 79,915 in 2015.

Meanwhile, enrollment among Latino students has climbed to 35,597. That’s an increase of 3,267 since 2014, and 5,693 since 2013. Notice that the two-year gain in enrollment in the Latino subgroup (5,693) exceeds the two-year gain in total enrollment for the school system (3,839).

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