Many deserve credit for assessment scores' jump

August 25, 2006

The parents of Washington County schoolchildren got some good news this week - the county's public schools are significantly better than they were just a few years ago.

How do we know that? Because the Maryland State Department of Education released scores for three assessments required for graduation - algebra, biology and government - that were above state averages.

If "above average" doesn't sound like a big deal, consider that Washington County had the highest percentage of students passing the algebra test -88.2 percent - of any school system in Maryland.

And, just as important, the percentage of African American students passing the algebra assessment - 70.5 percent - also led the state.


To quote Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan, this wasn't accomplished with a "magic pill," but by hard work and changing the way the system does things.

Credit the teachers with much of that success. Their workload has increased as they prepare students in the Class of 2009 to get ready for the assessments that they must pass if they want to receive a Maryland High School Diploma.

Another large share goes to the Student Achievement Specialists (SAS). These former classroom teachers were trained in data collection and analysis.

They use that combination of classroom experience and training to do several things - keep a statistical watch on various classes, lead teachers in discussions of which methods produce the best results and even do one-on-one coaching of students who need help.

Others who deserve part of the credit include the administrators and the School Board itself, which has pushed a system that in the past was reluctant to change into doing what was necessary to succeed.

No, the system and its students are not as close to perfect as they will need to be. But it would be unfair, not to mention discouraging, to tell those responsible for this progress that immediate perfection is the only acceptable result.

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