At 13 Baltimore City high schools, zero students tested proficient on 2023 state math exam

By Chris Papst

On September 18, 2023

At 13 Baltimore City high schools where the 2023 state math exam was given, zero students scored proficient in math. (WBFF)

The latest round of state test results is raising alarm in Baltimore City Schools. Project Baltimore found that 40% of Baltimore City high schools, where the state exam was given, did not have any students score proficient in math. Not one student.

“This is educational homicide,” said Jason Rodriguez, deputy director of People Empowered by the Struggle, a Baltimore-based nonprofit.

In 2021, the group held rallies calling on Baltimore City Schools CEO Dr. Sonja Santelises to resign over low test scores, falling graduation rates, and a lack of transparency. Now, after seeing what Project Baltimore discovered, Rodriguez is renewing those calls.

“There is no excuse,” he said. “We have a system that’s just running rogue, and it starts at the top.”

Fox45 obtained unredacted state test results for every school in Baltimore City through a source within the school system, and the results are hard to believe.

Students took the tests in the spring of 2023, just a few months ago. Project Baltimore found 13 Baltimore City high schools where not one student who took the state math test scored proficient in math. Not one student.

These are the 13 schools where zero students tested proficient on the 2023 state math exam:

  • Achievement Academy at Harbor City High
  • ConneXions: A Community Based Arts School
  • Coppin Academy
  • Edmondson-Westside High
  • Excel Academy at Francis M. Wood High
  • Frederick Douglass High
  • Joseph C. Briscoe Academy
  • New Era Academy
  • Patterson High
  • Reginald F. Lewis High
  • Renaissance Academy
  • The Reach! Partnership School
  • Vivien T. Thomas Medical Arts Academy
These are the 13 Baltimore City High Schools where zero students tested proficient on the 2023 state math exam.WBFF)

In total, students at 33 Baltimore City high schools took the state math exam last spring. Project Baltimore did not include Eager Street Academy in our analysis because it’s located in the Baltimore City Detention Center.

Of the 32 high schools remaining, if 13 had zero students test proficient, that means 40% of Baltimore City high schools could not produce a single student doing math a grade level. The list of 13 schools includes some of Baltimore’s most well-known high schools, including Patterson High School, Frederick Douglass, and Reginald F. Lewis.

Project Baltimore found 40% of Baltimore City High Schools where the 2023 state exam was given, did not have a single student score proficient in math.

But that’s not the only alarming finding we made. In those 13 high schools, 1,736 students took the test, and 1,295 students, or 74.5%, scored a one out of four. One is the lowest level, meaning those students were not even close to proficient.

Last school year, Baltimore City Schools received $1.6 billion from taxpayers, the most ever. The district also received $799 million in Covid relief funding from the federal government. And still, not a single student tested at 13 City high schools scored proficient on the state math test.

“So, it’s not a funding issue. We’re getting plenty of funding,” said Rodriguez.“I don’t think money is the issue. I think accountability is the issue.”

Six years ago, in 2017, Project Baltimore produced a similar report, where we analyzed state test scores and found 13 City schools had zero students proficient in math. Many of the schools from 2017 are also on the 2023 list, including Patterson High School, Frederick Douglass, The Reach! Partnership School, New Era Academy, Coppin Academy, and Achievement Academy.

At 13 Baltimore City high schools where the 2023 state math exam was given, zero students scored proficient in math. (WBFF)

“We’re still dealing with these same issues year after year,” said Rodriguez. “It’s just scary to me and alarming to me because we know that what’s happening now, you know, it’s just opening up the floodgates to the school-to-prison pipeline.”

City Schools will not do an interview to discuss these results. Instead, we received this statement:

“Baltimore City Public Schools (City Schools) appreciates recent one-time and ongoing increases in funding from our community. City Schools uses the funding to increase student achievement. Our complete 2023 Maryland Comprehensive Assessment Program (MCAP) math data paints a genuine picture of our progress.

But make no mistake: these recent increases do not diminish or patch over years of chronic underfunding that has directly contributed to our current outcomes. That recovery takes an equal or more significant amount of time to remediate.

Right now, the facts are clear: City Schools’ students have earned two consecutive years of improved scores on the math MCAP following national decreases during the COVID pandemic. Seven of eight grade levels experienced growth in math between SY2021-22 and SY2022-23, mirroring growth in Maryland overall.

We acknowledge that some of our high school students continue to experience challenges in math following the pandemic, especially if they were struggling beforehand. Our students, staff, families, and community may visit to learn more about our steps to improve student outcomes.

The work is underway to improve outcomes for students. But treating student achievement as an ‘if-then’ proposition does a great disservice to our community.”

“I’m beyond angry,” said Rodriguez. “This is why we’ve been calling for the resignation of the school CEO.”

It’s important to note that Project Baltimore is only able to report these test scores to the public because a source gave them to us.

When the state officially releases them later this month, the results will likely be heavily redacted, making it more difficult for parents to see how many schools are performing.

Earlier this year, the Maryland State Department of Education began further redacting state test scores after Project Baltimore reported on last year’s poor outcomes.

With State Superintendent Mohammed Choudhury no longer seeking another term, Project Baltimore reached out to the State School Board, asking if it will reverse course and make more information available to the public. We were told the board has no comment.

This piece was republished from Fox Baltimore.

Leave a Comment