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Excellent scores on the 'red report card'

December 12, 1997

By DAVE McMILLION

Staff Writer

Functional Test scores among Washington County 11th graders inched-up slightly last year, giving students an "excellent" rating in three of four categories, according to the Maryland State Department of Education.

The scores were released Thursday along with last year's results of the Maryland School Performance Assessment program, a rigorous assessment test given to third-, fifth- and eighth graders.

In reading portion of the Functional Test, 100 percent of the students taking the exam passed compared to the 99.8 percent that passed the previous year, according to figures released in the report, known as the "red report card."

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In math, 99.4 percent of the students passed, which is considered excellent, 99.1 percent passed writing, which is considered excellent and 98.1 percent passed a citizenship test, which is considered satisfactory, according to state figures.

The report also listed the county's 5.09 percent dropout rate, which was reported by local school officials last month.

A satisfactory dropout rate is considered 3 percent, and an excellent rate is considered 1.25 percent, according to the report.

Officials have started exploring ways to reduce the dropout rate, such as requiring schools to make monthly reports to school board officials about who is dropping out of school. If board officials notice trend at a school, they can work with officials at the school to find a solution.

Officials are also considering working with the Hagerstown Housing Authority to set up a homework support group at South Hagerstown High School, where the dropout rate was 7.2, the highest among the eight high schools.

"We are working on that, and have been since last summer," Superintendent of Schools Herman G. Bartlett Jr. said referring to the dropout rate.

"We believe we have that in hand," said Bartlett.

Bartlett said Functional Test scores should improve as the system begins concentrating more on "essential curriculum," which is designed to help students prepare for the Maryland School Performance Assessment Program.

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