The Archdiocese of Baltimore released standardized test scores Thursday for the first time, showing that students who attend Catholic schools in the region score significantly above the national average.
Middle-school students had the highest scores. Seventh-graders scored in the 73rd percentile nationally, meaning they scored better than 72 percent of other students on the math and reading portions of the Stanford 10, a nationally recognized test given to thousands of students across the nation.
The scores in the early grades were good as well. Third-graders scored in the 65th percentile in reading and 60th in math. In general, scores rose through the grades, with the middle school scores somewhat better than the early grades.
Superintendent of Schools Ronald J. Valenti said the archdiocese, which encompasses Baltimore, its surrounding counties and Western Maryland, decided to release the results after a discussion among principals. The results for all schools will be on the archdiocese Web site, and individual scores for each school will be on the schools' Web sites in a week.
"We have been working on the approach to becoming more transparent with test scores," Valenti said. "In today's kind of climate, parents are very discerning and they request that kind of information." Previously, individual schools released results to parents when they were asked, but they were not posted online.
The Stanford 10 was given last school year to students in grades three through eight. High school students were not tested. He said there is a discussion about what test scores to release on the high school level.
Catholic schools have been under intense pressure to stay solvent and prove their relevance in recent years, as costs rise and enrollment declines. Several schools in Maryland, including Towson Catholic High School, were closed this year.
Students in Catholic schools in Baltimore scored below the average for the archdiocese as a whole. For instance, third-graders were in the 43rd percentile for reading and the 40th percentile for math. That jumped up to the 56th percentile in reading and 55th percentile in math in fourth grade.
Baltimore public school students take the Stanford 10 in first and second grades before the Maryland State Assessment begins in third, so the scores cannot be compared directly. However, first- and second-graders in city public schools scored better than third-graders in city Catholic schools. Public school second-graders scored in the 46th percentile in reading and 57th percentile in math.
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