Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
Posted at 5:00 AM ET, 10/ 6/2010

How the Montgomery schools stand out

By washingtonpost.com editors

By Patricia O’Neill and Jerry D. Weast
Rockville

In his Oct. 3 Local Opinions commentary, “Among Maryland schools, Montgomery’s success is no outlier,” John C. Larson questioned the level of success of the Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) by ranking our performance on the Maryland School Assessments (MSA). While Mr. Larson is entitled to his view, he’s missing the broader point.

The job of a school system isn’t to prepare kids to fill out bubble sheets or pass poorly constructed tests of questionable reliability or purpose. A student could pass every state MSA and High School Assessment and still not be ready for college. Our job is to prepare them for college and the workplace and, by any metric, MCPS is leading the way in the state and the nation.

The MCPS Class of 2010 scored a 1653 on the SAT — 151 points higher than the state average and 144 points higher than the national average. Maryland’s score rose five points to 1502 last year, but without MCPS, the state’s SAT scores would have been 1474.

In 2009, the most recent data available, nearly two-thirds of MCPS graduates (64.4 percent) took at least one Advanced Placement exam and about half (48.7 percent) received a college-ready score of 3 or higher on an exam. How does that compare? Consider that Maryland enjoys the nation’s highest percentage of 2009 graduates that scored a 3 or higher on an AP exam — 24.8 percent. Without MCPS, Maryland’s national rank would have fallen from first to ninth.

But college readiness is not something we simply measure in high school. MCPS’s “7 Keys to College Readiness” clearly lays out the K-12 benchmarks for our students and are aligned to rigorous assessments and national expectations.

For instance, we know that 45 percent of our second-graders scored at or above the 70th percentile on the nationally normed TerraNova 2 reading test and that 65 percent of our students successfully completed Algebra 1 by the end of middle school. We would compare ourselves to the rest of Maryland, but the state doesn’t track such data.

But perhaps most telling is that our students are far more successful after high school. About 50 percent of our graduates from the classes of 2001-2004 received a bachelor’s degree, as opposed to 30 percent nationally (data for Maryland is not readily available). We anticipate that these numbers will improve in years to come since more of our students are being exposed to college-level work.

Certainly, MCPS is not perfect and we have plenty of work to do. The achievement gap still persists in our schools, although we have narrowed it in almost every area. Ultimately, we are not afraid of comparisons — in fact, we embrace them. All we ask is that those comparisons are made using statistics that actually mean something.

Patricia O’Neill is president of the Montgomery County Board of Education. Jerry D. Weast is the superintendent of Montgomery County Public Schools.

By washingtonpost.com editors  | October 6, 2010; 5:00 AM ET
Categories:  HotTopic, Montgomery County, education  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Putting the brakes on food trucks
Next: Virginia's Tea Parties on top

Comments

Mrs. O'Neill and Dr. Weast say "The MCPS Class of 2010 scored a 1653 on the SAT — 151 points higher than the state average and 144 points higher than the national average."

Their claim is a distortion of the truth, if not an outright lie. The MCPS Class of 2010 did not take the SAT. Instead, a very select sample of the Class of 2010 -- 71 percent -- took the SAT. That was down from 78 percent in 2009.

O'Neill and Weast's misuse of statistics comes right out a page from the classic book "How to Lie with Statistics".

Posted by: louiswilen1 | October 7, 2010 12:37 AM | Report abuse

Mrs. O'Neill and Dr. Weast say "The MCPS Class of 2010 scored a 1653 on the SAT — 151 points higher than the state average and 144 points higher than the national average."

Their claim is a distortion of the truth, if not an outright lie. The MCPS Class of 2010 did not take the SAT. Instead, a very select sample of the Class of 2010 -- 71 percent -- took the SAT. That was down from 78 percent in 2009.

O'Neill and Weast's misuse of statistics comes right out a page from the classic book "How to Lie with Statistics."

Posted by: louiswilen1 | October 7, 2010 12:37 AM | Report abuse

The Oct. 3 letter basically stated that while MCPS test scores were high, their improvement over the years was marginal compared to every other county (especially when you compared the lower s-e class of Moco and other counties).

This letter just says that Moco has higher test scores than anywhere else, which is basically just saying that Moco is wealthier than other counties.

Posted by: someguy100 | October 10, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2011 The Washington Post Company