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Baltimore schools (CBS local video)

In many Baltimore schools zero students proficient in math

Black students have difficulties with math in Baltimore City Schools. Project Baltimore analyzed 2017 state testing data and found one-third of High Schools had zero students proficient in math.

Published: November 19, 2017, 8:59 am

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    Project Baltimore analyzed 2017 state test scores released this fall and some 16 000 lines of data uncovered a sad truth: Of Baltimore City’s 39 High Schools, 13 had zero students proficient in math.

    Another six high schools where one percent tested proficient. It means that in half of the high schools in Baltimore City, 3804 students took the state test, and only 14 were proficient in math.

    The city’s school authorities seem unconcerned. In a statement issued, it read: “These results underscore the urgency of the work we are now pursuing. We must do more to meet the needs of all our students.”

    Overall the state of Maryland’s results of English and math assessments released in August show students have made only slight progress and less than half statewide passed the tests over three years.

    In grades three through eight, 41 percent of students passed the English test, while only a third passed the math assessment. The pass rate for English rose slightly, from 38.7 percent to 40.6 percent. The test is known as the Partnership for Assessments of Career and College Readiness, or PARCC.

    The percentage of students passing math dropped slightly, by less than 1 percentage point, compared to a year ago, the Baltimore Sun reported.

    About half of Maryland 10th-graders passed the PARCC English test and 36.5 percent of those students who took Algebra I passed.

    “There still remain huge achievement gaps,” state school board president Andrew Smarick said. White and Asian students are making faster gains on the tests than African-American students, creating a growing gap in achievement.

    Baltimore City and Baltimore County students scored well below the state average. In the city, only 15 percent of students passed the English test and 11.9 percent passed the math.

    In the midst of that troubling number, more data has surfaced making for grim reading. Fox News reported that at Baltimore Collegiate School for Boys, test results showed up more problems.

    “There’s an urgency about the work we’re doing,” Jack Pannell, the school’s founder, told Fox.

    “Nine out of ten black boys in Baltimore City are not reading at grade level,” said Pannell. That grim statistic, lead Pannell to open his north Baltimore school three years ago where there are no girls.

    “They tend to stay very focused on their studies,” he stated.

    The charter school also has no entrance exams, a longer school day – extended by one hour – a teaching staff that is 60 percent male and shorter class periods to address the way boys learn.

    “We designed this school to make a fundamental difference in the lives of mostly black and brown boys in the city,” said Pannell.

    That design appears to have had only modest results. In 2016, nine percent of students were proficient in math. This year, 14.4 percent were proficient.

    City school administrators say they will roll out a new math curriculum in September. The curriculum was designed to be narrower in scope and intended to deepen students’ understanding of key concepts such as fractions, but few hold out hope.

    But City schools chief Sonja Santelises said it was impossible to go from “11 percent to 80 percent” over a short space of time.

    The city appears to have too many problems to solve at once. The number of murders in the city during 2017 has spiked to 159 – the highest recorded mark since 1990, even though the city’s population was much bigger then than it is now.

    The Economist noted that Baltimore was on track to see more than 400 killings this year. Yet there is no sign of the state of Maryland or the federal government stepping in.

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