A stunning 77% of students at a Baltimore public high school are reading at the elementary school level – many at the kindergarten level, according to that city’s FOX45 News.
A brave unnamed teacher had to sneak those secret “i-Ready” test results to the station to do what the Baltimore school district was apparently unwilling to do – which is to educate the school’s parents about their children’s horrifying degree of illiteracy.
A former school board member and working economist told the station that Baltimore City Schools are consigning those students to “a life of despair” and an “inability to support a family.”
Of 628 Patterson High School students tested, 484, or 77%, read at an elementary school level – including 71 at a kindergarten level and 88 at a first-grade level. Only 12 read at grade level, or a miniscule 1.9%.
A school district spokesperson wrote in a statement that the test is merely a “checkpoint,” not a comprehensive picture of student performance, and that it was the first assessment taken since the pandemic hit. In addition, the statement said, 40% of the test-takers were English language learners “not having a full command of the language.”
But none of that alters the dismal results. And since the test was administered to high school students, it’s unlikely the reading deficiencies are purely a product of the pandemic. Indeed, the former school board member and economist, Anirban Basu, told FOX45 that the same issues were present when he served 17 years ago.
Meanwhile, FOX45 says its “Project Baltimore” school accountability team “over the years has interviewed parents, teachers and community activists who all say children are being pushed through the school system without getting the education they need.” The district has a “one fail” policy prohibiting students from being held back a grade more than once before ninth grade.
Perhaps that’s why Patterson High School still boasts a 61% graduation rate despite the inability among most students to read at anything close to grade level.
But the problem likely isn’t limited to Patterson High. Nearly a year ago, FOX45 discovered that one student at a different Baltimore high school had passed just three classes in four years and yet “ranks near the top half of his class with a 0.13 grade point average.”
Nearly as troubling as the startling shortcomings in reading proficiency is the fact that the Baltimore story emerged only because one teacher, remaining anonymous for fear of retribution, was willing to smuggle undisclosed test results into the public square.