Educators merit praise for boost in test scores

June 09, 2005

The last day of school normally means good news for students, but Tuesday brought an announcement that pleased teachers, administrators and parents as well.

The State Department of Education revealed that Washington County's scores on the 2005 Maryland School Assessment have greatly improved.

Not only does it put the system on track to meet the 2014 deadlines set forth in the federal No Child Left Behind Act, but it also validates the strategy that created the Student Achievement Specialists.

Among other things, these teachers track statistics, act as facilitators for teams of teachers working to improve their methods and even working one-on-one with students.

The results? Improvement at almost every level, some by surprising percentages.

For example, in 2003 at Bester Elementary School, there were no third graders reading at an advanced level. Now 7 percent of third-graders there have achieved that ranking.


Also at Bester, the percentage of third graders ranked as "proficient" readers has gone from 43.9 percent to 66.2 percent in just two years.

In reading and mathematics, in every grade tested, Washington County scores topped the state averages. When the state announces which schools have made what they call "adequate yearly progress," we're confident there will be more good news.

The credit for these achievements must go to a number of people, including Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan, who has told educators that the system cannot excuse students' lack of achievement because of their families' circumstances.

The School Board deserves credit, too, for putting policies in place to support these improvements - and for resisting some past boards' tendencies to try to micromanage.

But most of all, as Morgan acknowledged on Tuesday, credit must go to the academic professionals in the schools, particularly the classroom teachers.

Those who haven't been in a classroom in 20 years sometimes tend to believe teaching is easy. It isn't.

The pressure on teachers to perform at the highest level has increased in recent years, along with the number of students whose family situations interfere with their ability to learn.

For what they do every day and especially for what they've done in the past two years, we salute Washington County's dedicated teachers.

The Herald-Mail Articles