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Schools make the grade

Hancock, Eastern elementaries wonâEUR(TM)t face sanctions

Hancock, Eastern elementaries wonâEUR(TM)t face sanctions

July 01, 2004|by SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

Eastern Elementary School teachers were "ecstatic," some even crying with joy, when they learned Eastern would be removed from a list of schools facing sanctions for low test scores, Principal Kathy Stiles said Wednesday.

Eastern and Hancock elementary schools will be removed from the list of Schools in Need of Improvement because of improved scores on the Maryland School Assessment, according to information released this week by the Maryland State Department of Education.

While the two schools are being removed from one list, four other Washington County schools - Evening High School, Springfield Middle School, Boonsboro Middle School and Bester Elementary School - are being placed on others because of low test scores.

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Evening High School was singled out by the state as being a School In Need of Improvement for the first time.

Springfield and Boonsboro middle schools and Bester Elementary School were put in the category of "Schools on Alert."

Those schools did not meet the Adequate Yearly Progress goals in 2004 but met them in 2001, 2002 and 2003.

Brown compared that status to a flag being waved to warn of a possible problem.

The categories those schools are in are not as serious as the one Eastern and Hancock were in, Deputy Superintendent Patricia Abernethy said Wednesday.

The school system will examine the four schools to see what improvements, possibly including additional professional development, can be made to help students, she said.

During a conference call Tuesday with reporters across Maryland, Nancy Grasmick, state schools superintendent, congratulated the Washington County Public Schools system for Eastern and Hancock being removed from the list of schools in need of improvement.

"I am very proud of all students, particularly at Eastern and Hancock," Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan said.

After Eastern Elementary fell below state education standards, the school board made changes that included requiring all teachers at the school to reapply for their jobs. About half of those teachers were rehired at the school.

Teachers at Eastern Elementary and Antietam Academy are paid $5,000 more than teachers at other schools in the county because they work 2.5 hours more a week, time spent in staff professional development programs, Stiles said.

Morgan attributed the higher scores at Eastern to improvements made at the school and to hard work by students and school employees.

"We had worked so hard, the students and staff, to do everything we can to make the students achieve where we know they could," Stiles said. "We had high expectations and we knew the students could do it so we put all out efforts into intervention groups, tutoring and all the professional development that the teachers received on literacy strategies."

While the Maryland State Department of Education released this year's test scores on June 15, the data about which schools met state goals was not released until Tuesday.

The results of the math test taken by 10th-graders will not be released until late summer, said Robert Brown, coordinator of testing and accountability for the school system.

Spokeswoman Carol Mowen said the system is going to appeal the placement of Springfield on the alert list.

Due to a clerical error, one special education student's results were not coded properly and fixing that could change the school's status, she said.

How does it work?


Q: What is Adequate Yearly Progress?

A: In order to meet the federal requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act, all schools must make "Adequate Yearly Progress" in math and reading with a goal of every child being proficient by 2014. Adequate Yearly Progress refers to the gain that schools, school systems and states must make each year in the proportion of students achieving proficiency in reading and math. This is calculated through the results of the Maryland School Assessment test scores from students in third, fifth, eighth and 10th grades.

Q: What happens if a school does not meet a state's Adequate Yearly Progress goal?

A: Schools are put in different categories depending on how students performed. A school is identified as a School In Need of Improvement if it has not made Adequate Yearly Progress for two consecutive years. Each year that a school is in the School In Need of Improvement category, various sanctions are imposed.

Q: Where do Eastern and Hancock elementary schools stand?

A: Preliminary state results say the schools will be leaving the School In Need of Improvement category because they met Adequate Yearly Progress goals in 2003 and 2004. They were put on the list because they did not meet the state goals in 2001 and 2002.

Q: How did other Washington County schools do?

A: One school, Evening High School, was singled out by the state as being a School In Need of Improvement for the first time, because it did not meet the Adequate Yearly Progress goals for 2003 or 2004. The school must develop an improvement plan.

Three schools, Springfield and Boonsboro middle schools and Bester Elementary School, were put in the category of "Schools on Alert." These are schools that did not meet the Adequate Yearly Progress goals in 2004 but met them in 2001, 2002 and 2003.

Q: What happens next?

A: School systems have one month to appeal the state's preliminary findings.

Q. Where can I get more information?

A. At an Internet site run by the Maryland State Department of Education: www.mdreportcard.org/

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