“Our children deserve better. They really do,” the teacher told FOX 45’s investigative team, Project Baltimore, on the condition of anonymity. “As a whole, the system has failed them.”
Baltimore City Public Schools (BCPS) told Fox News Digital in a statement that 616 of the school’s 1,045 students participated in either the math or reading portions of the diagnostic test Sept. 9-10, 2021 — about six days after the school year began on Aug. 31.
“As we previously stated to WBFF-TV, i-Ready scores do not provide a complete or final picture of student performance. City Schools use i-Ready to provide checkpoints on student progress during the school year,” BCPS told Fox News Digital. “This was the first in-person checkpoint for students at Patterson High School after 18 months of disruption caused by the pandemic. For some students, their last in-person experience was in middle school during their seventh-grade year.”
Patterson High School is “the most diverse high school” in the Baltimore School district.
More than 480 students who took the iReady reading test scored at an elementary grade level, including 71 students who were reading at a kindergarten level, 88 students reading at a first-grade level and 45 students reading at a second-grade level.
Only 12 Patterson High School students — or under 2% — were reading at grade level, FOX 45 reported.
“It’s heartbreaking. It’s heartbreaking to see a child that, when you talk to them outside of the classroom setting, of what are your dreams? And they have these amazing dreams and hopes for the future,” the unidentified teacher told Project Baltimore. “But then you realize that with the skills that they have, with the level that they’re at, they’re going to have to work a thousand times harder to achieve. Our children need a future.”
BCPS noted that more than “40% of participating students were classified as English language learners and did not receive the accommodations they would receive on state-required assessments such as the Maryland Comprehensive Assessment Program (MCAP).”
“This means they took the test in English despite not having a full command of the language,” the school district said.
BCPS’s “one fail” policy aims to ensure no student is held back more than once before ninth grade, meaning students are regularly pushed to the next grade level even if their learning levels do not catch up at the same pace.
“We got smart and bright kids. I mean, these kids aren’t failing because they can’t do it. They’re failing because they know they can, that’s the difference,” Marvin Lee, a former Baltimore City schools teacher, told Project Baltimore in October 2020.
The school district said Patterson High School is allocating $70,000 to purchase a reading intervention program called READ, targeting 9th-grade students who read below a 6th-grade level. The school will also create 11 sections of new reading classes, use a new intervention tool “three times weekly to target reading fluency and reading stamina for the first 15 minutes of class” and provide students with new software to practice reading at home.