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Bester and Winter Street elementary students to get choice

July 10, 2011|By JULIE E. GREENE | julieg@herald-mail.com

Students at Bester and Winter Street elementary schools could end up attending other Washington County public elementary schools this school year.

Washington County Public Schools will have to offer school choice for students at Bester and Winter Street for at least the next two school years due to reading and math assessment test results, Maryland State Department of Education spokesman Bill Reinhard said Friday.

Results of the Maryland School Assessment tests will be discussed at Tuesday’s Washington County Board of Education meeting, which begins at 1 p.m. at the Central Office off Commonwealth Avenue.

An information packet about school choice will be sent to parents at the affected schools once the packet is approved by the school board, which could happen Tuesday, school system spokesman Richard Wright said Friday.

Results of the assessment tests, which were given to students in grades 3 through 8, were released last week.

Bester and Winter Street are among five schools considered to be in “school improvement” because they failed to meet proficiency standards for two consecutive years — 2010 and 2011. The other schools are Northern and Western Heights middle schools and Williamsport Elementary.

The “school choice option” is listed under requirements for schools that didn’t meet “adequate yearly progress” for two consecutive years, are beginning their first year in “school improvement” and are Title 1 schools, according to a state education department document.

Bester and Winter Street are Title 1 schools because they are elementary schools with higher populations of students from low-income families.

Assistant Schools Superintendent Donna Hanlin said last week that the school system only designates eligible elementary schools as Title 1 schools, and not middle or high schools.

The federal No Child Left Behind Act calls for schools, and various subgroup populations at schools, to meet higher proficiency standards each year through the 2013-14 school year, when the goal is 100 percent proficiency for all schools and subgroups. That means every student who takes the tests would have to score at or above the proficiency level and have been in the school for a certain period of time.

In 2011, Bester Elementary didn’t meet reading or math proficiency standards for all students. It didn’t meet reading or math standards for black or African-American students, special education students and students who receive free or reduced-price meals. It also didn’t meet math proficiency standards for white students.

In 2010, Bester Elementary School didn’t meet proficiency standards for all students in reading. It didn’t meet reading standards for white students not of Hispanic origin, special education students and students who receive free or reduced-price meals.

In 2011, Winter Street Elementary didn’t meet reading proficiency standards for all students as well as black and African-American students, special education students and students who receive free or reduced-price meals. It also didn’t meet math proficiency standards for special education students.

In 2010, Winter Street Elementary School didn’t meet reading proficiency standards for special education students.

The school system already is redistricting dozens of students out of Bester and Winter Street with the start of this school year in August.

In January 2010, the Board of Education approved redistricting 70 prekindergarten students from Bester, in Hagerstown’s South End, to Funkstown Elementary, for the 2011-12 school year.

The board also approved redistricting 100 students from Winter Street, in Hagerstown’s West End, to the Eastern Complex for this coming school year. The Eastern Complex includes Eastern Elementary and Ruth Ann Monroe Primary School, which opens in August.

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