The results of a state math exam in Baltimore, Maryland, have raised concerns after it revealed that nearly half of all high schools in the city did not have any students demonstrating basic proficiency in math. The exam was taken by thousands of students last spring across 33 high schools in the city.
While the analysis of the results, completed by investigative reporting initiative Project Baltimore, excluded one school for being located in the Baltimore City Detention Center, the results showed that 13 out of the 32 remaining high schools had zero students capable of completing their exam.
According to Fox 5 News, the exam showed that out of 1,736 students tested across the 13 high schools, 74% scored one out of four, with one being the lowest mark.
While some have attempted to claim the issue is related to under-funding, the city of Baltimore received $1.6 billion in school funding last year, amounting to over $21,000 per student. The ballooning figures place Baltimore as being the 4th most funded large school system in the country.
“So, it’s not a funding issue. We’re getting plenty of funding,” said Jason Rodriguez, deputy director of a Baltimore-based non-profit called People Empowered by the Struggle. “I don’t think money is the issue. I think accountability is the issue.”
In 2021, due to “low test scores, failing graduation rates, and a lack of transparency,” People Empowered by the Struggle held rallies demanding Baltimore City Schools CEO Sonja Santelises resign. Now, in response to Project Baltimore’s upsetting new findings about math proficiency in high schools, 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. We’re still dealing with these same issues year after year.”
Rodriguez continued: “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.”
Baltimore is not the only city struggling with low test scores in math. According to ABC7 News, average math scores among 13-year-olds fell by 9 points between 2020 and 2023 across the United States. Last year, 8,700 students were tested in English and math from October to December to measure how much of a learning setback was caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The test, known as the National Assessment of Educational Progress, revealed that math and reading scores “fell to their lowest levels in decades, with math scores plunging by the largest margin ever recorded.”
Although math and reading scores were declining pre-pandemic, students at all achievement levels saw a significant decrease during the COVID-19 era, with more skilled students dropping between 6 to 8 points and poorer performing students between 12 to 14 points. Reportedly, African-American and Indigenous-American students saw the biggest decline in scores.
After analyzing the nation’s report card, experts warned it will take years and substantial cooperation between parents and teachers to resolve the ongoing issues in America’s education system.