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Maryland School Assessment scores drop

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BALTIMORE (AP) — Maryland education officials say students' scores on a statewide reading and math test made an expected drop across the board as the state transitions to new national learning standards.

Education officials on Friday released the results of the Maryland School Assessment, the statewide test given each year in March. Schools in the state began implementing the Common Core State Standards in reading and math two school years ago, but a new assessment test designed to evaluate what students have learned is not yet being used statewide.

This is the final year the Maryland School Assessment will be used. It will be replaced in the 2014-2015 school year by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers assessments, which are aligned to the Common Core. Officials field tested the PARCC assessments with 40,000 students in Maryland this year.

State Superintendent of Schools Lillian Lowery said in a statement that officials "knew going into this assessment period that the standards and the curricula being taught were not completely aligned." But she said that school systems can still use the data to "continue analyzing the achievement of specific student groups, classrooms and schools."

According to data released Friday, the percentage of elementary students scoring at proficient levels in reading fell from 86.4 percent in 2013 to 84.3 percent this year. The percentage of elementary students scoring in proficient levels in mathematics dropped from 83.9 percent to 75.8 percent.

In middle school, the percentage of students scoring at the proficient levels in reading fell from 84.3 percent in 2013 to 79.6 percent this year. The percentage of middle school students scoring in the proficient levels in mathematics dropped from 72.2 percent to 63.1 percent.

Students' scores also dropped last year, and officials' explanation was the same: the transition to the Common Core alongside the continued use of the Maryland School Assessment. Officials had said then that the misalignment problem would continue for at least the 2013-2014 school year.

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