Maryland’s public schools are among the nation’s finest, ranking at the top in numerous national studies. This is something to celebrate, because it means children are getting a running start to a successful future.
Unfortunately, not every child has the same experience. Maryland, like every other state, has an achievement gap. African American and Hispanic students score at lower levels on standardized tests than Asian and White students. For example, the percentage of White students attaining proficient scores in eighth grade reading is 20 points higher than African American students. This is as true in suburban and rural schools as it is in urban areas.
To help spur continuous improvement, Maryland has instituted the School Progress Index (SPI), a new accountability system that assesses schools on overall student performance, the progress they are making, and the success they are having in reducing gaps in achievement between student groups.
Accountability, classroom by classroom, is important. Ignoring the gap, even for a few years, pushes some of our schools further behind. Our job as educators is to hold our students to high standards, assess their success, and provide assistance as necessary to those who struggle. Maryland’s accountability program, made up of the Maryland School Assessment and the High School Assessment, provides educators and parents with a wealth of information about student achievement.
Use of these tools, along with other classroom measures, helps us understand how our children stack up and how well our teachers are doing. With this information, we can improve instruction and become the first state to eliminate the achievement gap.
We encourage parents and educators to review SPI data at our accountability website, MdReportCard.org.