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Schools score a testing triumph

November 11, 2005|by KAREN HANNA

WASHINGTON COUNTY

karenh@herald-mail.com

Washington County Public Schools officials applauded the efforts of students and teachers after learning Thursday the system has completed a clean sweep of national standards on state tests.

With this year's freshmen required to pass reading and math exams to graduate, the focus will shift to making sure all students can pass the tests the first time, Testing and Accountability Coordinator Bob Brown said.

According to test scores released by the Maryland State Department of Education, student passage rates on state English and reading tests at all Washington County high schools were high enough to meet a federal standard of performance last year.

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Previously released scores for other assessments show all schools and all student subgroups throughout the system also made the grade.

"We've not had every school on every category (before). This is the first year. This is the first year for us to clean sweep," Brown said.

Last year, about half of the system's sophomores took a reading test which is no longer administered, while the rest took the first administration of a new test called English 2, Brown said. Scores from both tests were merged to determine whether the schools had made a federal standard of Adequate Yearly Progress, Brown said.

The overall passage rate for the county was 59.4 percent, 2 percent higher than the state's rate, according to the State Department of Education.

Adequate Yearly Progress is a federal standard for schools' attendance and graduation rates and passage rates among all students and student subgroups, including minority and low-income students, on state reading and math assessments. According to earlier test results, all subgroups in every school met federal standards of passage on the state geometry test and on math and reading tests administered to students in grades 3 through 8.

Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan said Thursday after a groundbreaking for a stadium at North High that the results show students and teachers have responded to the system's high standards.

"It demonstrates with high standards, if you keep to high standards, students will meet the bar you hold them up to," Morgan said. She said she was proud of the system's teachers and students.

This year's entering freshmen class will be required to pass both the English 2 and a new algebra exam to graduate, Brown said.

The graduation requirements mean the assessments will have even "a greater urgency" for the students and schools, said Boyd Michael, executive director of secondary education. According to the No Child Left Behind legislation, schools should achieve 100 percent passage rates on standardized tests by 2014. That is not soon enough, Michael said.

"I want 100 percent passage rates in algebra long before 2014. I want 100 percent passage rates on English 2 long before 2014, because it impacts on graduation, and, that's our primary goal in Washington County is to help children achieve graduation, and move on with their life," Michael said.

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