Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Majority of MCPS high school students... failed their first final exam

Montgomery County parents are alarmed after learning how many high school students failed their first final exams this school year. Now that data on failure rates is circulating, school officials say they will look into countywide exams, curriculum and student results.

The majority of Montgomery County Public Schools high school students enrolled in grade-level math courses such as algebra and geometry failed their first final exam, according to countywide school system data from 2012 final exams.

Of the high school students enrolled in Algebra 1, 61 percent failed; of those in geometry, 62 percent failed; of those in Algebra 2, 57 percent failed; of those in precalculus, 48 percent failed, according to the data.

Students who are not in advanced classes had much higher rates of failure.

School system administrators are setting up a study group to “get to the root of the issue,” said Erick Lang, the school system’s associate superintendent of curriculum and instruction.

“If you look at the data, you can’t help but be pretty shocked,” said Dylan Presman, PTSA president at Rockville High.

School board member Michael A. Durso (Dist. 5) of Silver Spring said the data, to him, is “a red flag.”

“My concern is ... a lot of times the curriculum and the tests don’t always match up,” Durso said.

Durso was Springbrook High’s principal for 13 years before being elected to the board in 2009.

He said math teachers have been worried for years about skimming through topics, without depth.

Presman is concerned that there is an issue of misalignment between the curriculum and exams.

Lang said other factors come into play, such as students’ motivation to study for the exams, which they do not need to ace to pass their courses.

Lang said his office has talked about this issue before hearing about it from principals this winter.

“We have kind of said there are a bunch of factors that weigh into this,” he said. “But we haven’t done anything.”

The data became public last week, when Presman received a chart showing countywide final-exam grade results from Rockville Principal Debra Munk, then sent it to his PTSA listserv. This data is stored privately in a school system database, although Lang said it has been published in reports previously...

Read the rest of this article at the following link:


  1. We're #1! We're #1!

  2. oooooo, a "study group!" What a classic MCPS response!

    And isn't it just special that the associate superintendent for curriculum BLAMES THE STUDENTS for not being motivated! Here's an idea: when the associate superintendent for curriculum hears there is a problem from the principals, and says "we haven't done anything"....let's get a new associate superintendent for curriculum who will DO something BESIDES blame the students!

    1. What are the numbers for students with learning disabilities? Guess Erick Lang would say they aren't motivated so they deserve to fail?

  3. The same Debra Munk who was just tapped for promotion, according to the Patch article http://rockville.patch.com/articles/munk-named-consulting-principal-for-mcps-department. She was promoted to “consulting principal” for the Department of Professional Growth System according to the article, and will be starting July 1st. Her job will be to train principals.

  4. 62% failed?! Unlike the young lady in the video of the other day, I have not been studying fractions for 12 weeks. However, I am pretty sure that 62 percent means, 'over half.' Or, 'two-thirds.'

  5. Could this be an issue with the exam being a standalone grade? I've always found it odd that a two hour test is weighted as much as an entire quarter's worth of grades. It's certainly not like this in college - could this be a factor here?

    Going B for the first quarter, B for the second quarter, a D on the exam and keeping a B for the semester never made much sense to me. I think it's more a product of how the quarter system is weighed with the exam grades than anything.

    1. So the percent of students that failed is not an issue? That was failed - failed the exam.

    2. I never said it wasn't an issue, it's a huge deal. I was simply suggesting that the formatting of the exam weight could contribute to the failures. It's a huge lack of motivation to know that you can get a D on an exam and still maintain a B in the class, as I pointed out above.

    3. Is a "D" failing? This article was about students that failed exams.

  6. Whatever happen to Dr. Weast's seminal work on raising the SAT scores across the board?
    What about the robust all day kindergarten model?
    Did he not pass on the torch to ensure continuity, consistency and competitiveness?
    Was it considered copyrighted work and hence one must pay royalties in order to use it?

  7. If students receive a C or a D both quarters, there's absolutely no incentive for them to study or to try on the final exam as they maintain their current grade (C or D) even if they fail. This could account for some, but certainly not all, of the failing grades on finals. I think this is the point the poster at 9:37 and 5:31 was trying to get across.

    1. That's a whole other issue.

      The topic of this article is students FAILING their County exam.

      Where's the data? Where is the information that Principal (about to be removed) Debra Munk made available to her PTA President?

      Erick Lang has time to jet around the country to promote Pearson/MCPS Curriculum 2.0. How much time is he putting in to the high schools?

    2. He is overseeing the entire effort from seven miles high!

    3. How is it a whole other issue? The topic is indeed students failing their final exam. The fact that a CCF and a DDF earn the student a C in the first case and a D in the second has a lot to do with the topic at hand. They have absolutely no incentive to study or try on their final so they fail it. The topic is failing the final and I've provided a reason why some may be failing.

  8. I think the biggest issue here is that the Montgomery County public system moves kids from topic to topic, without mastery of a single subject in Math. So when the kids reach the higher grades where mastery of the basics is required the house of cards come tumbling down. I supplement my kids education at home with Syngapore Math and the British Old Math Curriculum where mastery is the key from moving from one topic to another. How many parents are equipped to do that? I would say to the curriculum writers, please focus on Mastery of the basics in earlier grades not exposing kids to every Math topic. Mastering the basics such as multiplication tables, fractions, early goes a long way in later grades.


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