Does an MCPS Report Card accurately reflect performance?

We’ve all heard the stories – first-hand or otherwise – of the student intercepting their report card before it arrives on the kitchen counter and confiscating it, hoping their parent will sort of forget about the end of the grading period and move on.  Indeed, many a delinquent child has tried to cover his or her tracks for a while but inevitably the truth comes out in the marks!

Or does it?

During the pandemic, grades were allowed to float along with little or no attachment to performance; so many factors outside the control of the student and families were at play that it wasn’t fair to fault the child.  But NAACP Education Committee Chair and co-founder of the Black & Brown Coalition Byron Johns has shown that  grades and the evaluation of academic performance have not yet re-attached.

Exhibit A is the Evidence of Learning metric, which combines grades, district assessments, and state or national tests.  Attainment of Evidence of Learning means you have ‘passed’ on two out of the three (as for grades, “C” grade or better).   One would think these three would be comparable, that teachers’ evaluations would be as rigorous or more (after all, this is Montgomery County!) than standardized test scoring.  Think again:

Note the gigantic discrepancy between the classroom assessment and assessment by district/state/federal testing just last fall.  The district and external scores are consistently less than half of the scores given in the classroom.  Grade inflation has not stopped, folks – not by a long shot!

MCPS is quick to point out that these scores are improving rapidly.  Sure, but what’s the net result?

Well, to use the example of literacy, the net result is that instead of one quarter of all Latino 3rd graders being able to read, now half of them will be ready to read.  Imagine an exam proctor handing out pencils to half of the class instead of one quarter of it.  How is this supposed to make anyone satisfied?

Our point is not to berate a public school system which is working hard to get us back on track.  It is to say that we are still in crisis and that any implication that the boat has righted itself and academic progress is stabilized is misleading at best.

Anecdotally, I hear the same thing from those in the trenches.  Last Saturday, I spoke with a Middle School teacher who was aghast to find that an 8th grader who needed help spelling each and every word in his paragraph was NOT an IEP (Individual Education Plan) student, but just an average one.  And just yesterday I spoke with a high school parent whose kid had been getting straight “A”s all year long but when he sat down to engage her in basic reading/writing/math skills was appalled at her lack of understanding.  He remarked: “I looked at the grades and trusted MCPS that she was doing well.  But she wasn’t!”

If you have a student in public school, don’t assume that they are performing on grade level; find out yourself!

If you don’t have a student in public school, remember: this is YOUR county we are educating.  We decide what sorts of future leaders we are training!

But don’t complain or stew.  Act!  Here’s three things you can do:

  1. Write to a Board of Education member demanding that MCPS be more up front with the plight of the crisis today.
  2. Join the Black & Brown Coalition ( and discover a group of concerned citizens that are doing the hard face-to-face advocacy at the Board of Education to effect immediate change.
  3. Volunteer to tutor this Fall at our Let’s Read! Tutoring Program in West Montgomery Village targeting the FARM/Latino community who are getting left behind in the pandemic recover.  If you can’t volunteer, consider making a donation to the Germantown Global Connection as we begin another year of tutoring (

Malcom X said: “Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.”  Let’s prepare for Montgomery County’s tomorrow by not settling for post-pandemic progress but re-instating academic excellence.

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