Half of the city’s high schools had fewer than 2-percent of students pass the mathematics portion of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), according to scores made public on Wednesday night.
Under 2-percent of students scored 4 and 5 in Algebra 1, Algebra 2, and geometry at 7 of the 14 high schools.
“Our eighth-grade students are currently outperforming our high school students in Algebra I,” said assistant superintendent David Cozart referring to the math scores. “We have seen very little increase in scores.”
Overall the district’s high school math scores have gone down. For example, 3.4-percent of students passed Algebra 2 in 2017-18 school year, down from 4.2. 3-percent passed geometry down from 3.7. Algebra 1 (includes elementary school scores) was the only bright spot — 16-percent passed, up from 14.
“High school scores are dangerously low,” said longtime school board member Jonathan Hodges. “Our children are being woefully underserved and that can’t continue to go on.”
The scores in English for high school students were slightly better. 5 out of 14 schools had 10-percent or fewer students pass the English portion. Overall, 17.5-percent, up from 15.9, of students in 11th grade earned 4 and 5. 17.3-percent, up from 12.9, earned passing marks in 10th grade. 15.4-percent, down from 16.9, earned 4 and 5 in 9th grade.
Some schools erased gains that were made in the previous school year. For example, 47-percent of 8th grade students at Rosa Parks High School had passing scores in 2016-17. In 2017-18, 35.4-percent had 4 and 5 scores.
“This is not cutting it. It’s very, very concerning,” said school board member Manny Martinez after four members of superintendent Eileen Shafer’s administration delivered the 71-page PowerPoint presentation. “Whatever moderate gains we have seen were offset by the regression we’ve seen.”
District administrators underlined some of the gains students made in the past school year. For example, students in grades 4-8 boosted the district’s average scores in both math and English by single digits.
The small gains – ranging from 0.5 to 6.9-percent — did not impress school board members.
“It may be 100 years before we get to where we need to be. We don’t have that kind of time,” said Hodges.
Hodges said the district needs to make double digit gains because students lag far behind their state peers.
The school board plans to further discuss the scores at a special meeting.
“There has to be a longer conversation as to where we are and where we are going,” said school board president Oshin Castillo.