Achievement gaps remain between black students and the white majority in Harford County
Harford County officials say that, despite standardized test scores that rose slightly this year and remained fairly high for the state, achievement gaps remain between black students and the white majority.
“It’s a persistent gap that exists in SAT scores. It exists in the MSAs and it existed in [Maryland’s old performance exam] the MSPAP,” said schools spokesman Don Morrison. About 14 percent of Harford’s students are black, and the county’s demographics mean those students are concentrated in schools around the Route 40 corridor.
According to the Maryland State Department of Education, Harford’s black students got the county’s lowest percentage of either “proficient” or “advanced” scores in math and reading almost uniformly across grade levels for the last three years.
This year, for example, 54.8 percent of black eighth-graders scored proficient or better in reading (compared to 83.3 percent for white eighth-graders) and 29.3 percent were proficient or better in math (compared to 69.2 percent of white eighth-graders).
Morrison said the gap will be studied this year as it has been before. School Improvement teams will break MSDE’s data down into its smallest parts, he said — right down to looking at individual teachers and classes — then suggest methods for improving scores.
Part of the schools’ professional development curriculum for teachers is the “Best Bets” program, which Superintendent Jacqueline Hass describes as teaching the teachers different approaches that intended to suit more students’ learning styles.
Carolyn Wood, Harford’s supervisor of research and evaluation, said she was only beginning to review the test results, but that the achievement gap for black students is a nationwide problem.
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