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State superintendent praises county school system

June 14, 2007|By ERIN CUNNINGHAM

Maryland Superintendent of Schools Nancy Grasmick praised Washington County Public Schools during a visit to the area Thursday, saying student achievement is up and teachers, administrators and staff have a lot to be proud of.

Grasmick spoke during the school system's annual leadership conference at Beaver Creek Country Club. The theme of the conference was "Succeeding in an Era of No Child Left Behind."

Carol Corwell-Martin, supervisor for the school system's Center for Peak Performance and Productivity, said the focus of the conference is on professional development.

"You are amazing," Grasmick told the nearly 200 administrators, including principals and central office staff, in attendance Thursday.

Grasmick told them about newly released Maryland School Assessment scores that show steady improvement in most grade levels in reading and math, and said that the school system is focused on the achievement of all students.

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"You are closing an achievement gap that is persistent throughout the state and the country," Grasmick said. "In Washington County, it looks like the philosophy is success for all, not just success for some."

Grasmick said there are some who might attribute the county's success to increases in state funding. But that is not the case, she said.

Washington County Public Schools has the second lowest per-pupil spending in the state - $8,530, according to information the school system released earlier this year. Only Harford County ($8,263) spends less, according to the same data.

"Almost the lowest in the state," Grasmick said. "So, people who say it's money ... No, it's leadership."

Grasmick credited students' achievement to a strategic and effective approach by administrators and school system leaders. She said the school system is among the top performers in the state, and in some areas, including algebra and attendance, is a state leader.

"It wasn't always done in Washington County," Grasmick said.

Grasmick said the culture of the school system has changed, mostly because teachers and administrators have higher expectations for their students. She also cited early interventions, achievement specialists and data-driven decisions as reasons for increasing success among the county's students.

She said the culture at Washington County Public Schools now is one of "excellence."

"You have done phenomenal things for the students you serve," Grasmick said.

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