Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2008

Standardized test scores outpace state, nation

Orientation for new students and high school freshmen is Friday

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County students across the board made gains on this year's round of nationally standardized tests, according to school system information.

On Monday, school leaders touted the strides made by students in kindergarten- through second-grade on the nationally standardized TerraNova exams in reading, language, and mathematics.

Each year, the state gives the Maryland School Assessment tests in reading and math to third- through eighth-graders to assess progress. The TerraNova test, also given each spring, is used to measure a student's progress by second grade.

Seventy-two percent of the county's second-graders scored at or above the national average on the exams, up from 69 percent in 2007.

Overall, black and Hispanic students made gains on the TerraNova, but scores still lag behind their white and Asian-American peers. Fifty-six percent of black second-graders scored at or above the national average this year, up from 51 percent last year. This year, 53 percent of the county's Hispanic second-graders scored at or above the national average, compared to 48 percent last year.

Eighty-six percent of the county's white second-graders scored at or above the national average on the exams, compared to 85 percent last year. As for Asian Americans, 86 percent of its second-graders scored at or above the national average, compared to 84 percent last year.

Administrators want kindergarteners to read more accelerated text. Over the last two years, 93 percent of the county's kindergarteners read at least a level 3 text.

During the press conference, Weast also stressed the need for early elementary school students to read level 6 text. Sixty-five percent of kindergarteners read at that level this year, up from 64 percent last year.

The school system "wants a higher trajectory … not the low-level testing that everyone seems to celebrate," Weast said, adding that the system's goal is to get students college-ready.

High school students taking the ACT, an alternative to the traditional SAT, outpaced the state average on tests, according to data released last week. The average composite score for students was 23.8, compared to the state average of 22.

Of the 10,135 students who graduated this year, 2,355 students — or 23 percent — took the ACT. Last year, 1,735 students took the test. Go to www.act.org for more.

Orientation for students

Orientation for new students and high school freshmen is Friday. During the half-day orientation, students will meet their teachers and principal and go to their classes before schools open on Monday.

Some middle schools will hold a half-day orientation for incoming sixth-graders and new students this Friday. To find out if your middle school is having an orientation, call the school or go to www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/parents.

Enroll your child in school

Children 5 years old by Sept. 1 are eligible for school enrollment. Call the International Student Admissions office if your child is not a United States citizen and has not attended a U.S. school consistently for the past two years, or is a U.S. citizen who has been attending a school overseas. The number: 301-230-0686.

If a child does not live with a parent, legal guardian, or certified relative, contact the Enrollment and Attendance Compliance office at 301-315-7324.

Parents should enroll their children at the local school. Call 240-314-4710 between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on weekdays to find your local school.

Immunizations

Parents registering their children for the first time in a county school must have proof of age, identity, residency and proof of immunization. A student must be immunized within 20 days of registration.

Students who have previously attended school should bring their latest report card, if available, and students receiving special education services should bring a copy of their current Individualized Education Program (IEP).

Call the county's immunization program at 240-777-1050, School Health Services at 240-777-1550 or talk to the health nurse at your child's school.

School board

meets Thursday

The school board and Superintendent Jerry D. Weast will discuss the reopening of schools and online classes, among other things, when it meets Thursday afternoon in Rockville.

The system's career and technology education department will update the board on online classes.

The meeting begins at 1 p.m. in the boardroom at the Carver Educational Services Center, 850 Hungerford Drive in Rockville. Meetings are broadcast live on channel 34 and rebroadcast at 1 p.m. on the Saturday and Sunday following the meeting.

Call 301-279-3617 or go to www.montgomeryschoolsmd.

org/boe for more information.