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Maryland State Department of Education Hides Test Scores After Investigative Journalist’s Report

April 25th, 2023 by WCBC Radio

In January 2023, student data was published on The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) website reporting on the past school year’s MCAP standardized testing. Investigative Reporter, Chris Papst of Fox 45’s Project Baltimore News, examined the data and revealed that 23 Baltimore City Schools had zero students proficient in math. The news report went viral and was covered nationally. Shortly after, MSDE took the data down. When the data was reposted in March, much of it is now missing.

As a former teacher, Delegate Kathy Szeliga of Baltimore County commented, “Maximum transparency in student and school achievement data is essential for parents, schools, educators, and lawmakers to help improve learning. Hiding the data should not be the response to failing schools.”
Delegates from across the state – Arikan, Chisholm, Fisher, Grammer, Kipke, Morgan, Nawrocki, and Szeliga – sent a letter last week to MSDE with deep concerns about the change in student data publication and requested it to be restored. They sent a second letter today.

State Superintendent Mohammed Choudhury promptly responded to the delegates’ first letter with a “Statement Addressing the Incorrect and Misleading News Piece from Fox 45 on MCAP Data Reporting.” In the three-page response, MSDE blamed the vendor for publishing the data but never addressed what the data actually showed the public. MSDE says they are using federal requirements to protect the privacy of individual students. However, MSDE has changed the deidentification measures in reporting standardized test scores to be well outside the federal student privacy protection requirements. Also, MSDE is removing data from previous years’ test results.

Delegate Matt Morgan of St. Mary’s County said, “MSDE removed an entire column of data showing how many students are proficient in a grade and even hid all the data for a school if the testing group is less than 30 students and/or fewer than five percent of students scored proficient. As a parent of a student graduating from high school this year and a realtor, I know the importance to parents and home buyers of having good information about how schools are doing across our state.”

The eight delegates believe the newly revised reporting measures make the data useless, especially in low-performing schools where this data is critical for improving education. Constituents have contacted these state delegates with significant concerns, and parents want school-level data to know about and make decisions for their children’s education.

Delegate Lauren Arikan of Harford County asked, “Why is MSDE not applying the same enhanced deidentification measures to highly performing schools? Suddenly, these new measurement practices do not apply to all schools anymore, just low-performing schools.” Additionally, Arikan commented about MSDE’s actions to go back and change previous years’ achievement data, “This is a precedent we do not want to set for Maryland schools.” The delegates sent a follow-up letter today to Superintendent Choudhury and look forward to his response to these and other vital concerns.