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Seven Washington County schools miss proficiency assessment test targets

July 10, 2012|By JULIE E. GREENE | julieg@herald-mail.com

Seven Washington County public elementary and middle schools missed at least one reading or math proficiency target for assessment tests taken during the 2011-12 school year.

The schools that did not meet proficiency during this past school year in at least one subgroup are Eastern, Fountaindale, Hickory, Maugansville and Pangborn elementary schools, and Clear Spring and Springfield middle schools, according to Washington County Public Schools and Maryland State Department of Education data released Tuesday at www.mdreportcard.org.

Of those schools, Eastern, Fountaindale, Hickory and Pangborn elementary schools did not meet proficiency in at least one subgroup during the 2010-11 school year.

According to data on the state education department’s website, E. Russell Hicks Middle School didn’t meet the reading proficiency standard for all students this past school year. But, Jeremy Jakoby, testing and accountability supervisor for the local school system, said there was an error on the state’s website and the school did meet proficiency in that category.

Asked to confirm E. Russell Hicks’ status late Tuesday afternoon, state education department spokesman Bill Reinhard said he didn’t expect to be able to confirm the school had met proficiency standards until Wednesday at the earliest.

The labels used for schools that missed proficiency in past years, such as “school in improvement” and “alert school,” are gone thanks to a waiver Maryland received from the U.S. Department of Education in regards to meeting No Child Left Behind benchmarks. The previous benchmarks would have required every child to be at least proficient in reading and math by the 2013-14 school year.

The new standards set different goals for reading and math for each school, using the 2010-11 results as a baseline. The six-year target is for each school to reduce by 50 percent the number of students who scored basic in reading or math based on the 2010-11 school year.

The state has provided targets for each school to meet annually on the way to that six-year goal.

The new goals are more “realistic,” said Richard Akers, director of secondary education and student services, and Steve Wernick, director of elementary education.

In the past, a school could be improving at a faster rate than another school that meets proficiency standards, but the first school still didn’t meet the target, Akers said.

“So no reward for making those kinds of gains. Whereas now, each target is customized to a school,” Akers said. Now a school can be recognized for the progress it makes, he said.

“Waiver or no waiver, it’s about the students and progressing,” Wernick said.

Schools Superintendent Clayton Wilcox was out of town Tuesday and could not be reached for comment.

School system officials are still evaluating assessment test results and students’ needs, Wernick said.

Each school, whether or not it met proficiency standards, has an improvement plan, school system officials said.

Officials will determine what training teachers need to help students improve and to make sure resources are being used more wisely, Wernick said. He cited determining if certain students need small group instruction as an example.

“We’re still going to have a lot of additional help and assistance to the schools that aren’t performing, as well as our other schools,” Akers said.

Many of the schools that met proficiency standards did so not by meeting the 2012 target, but by being with the margin of error for the 2012 target. The margin of error for each school depends on the number of students at the school or the number of students within a certain demographic population, Reinhard said.

“Overall I’m pleased with the results. We still have a ways to go, some areas that we really want to work on and focus on. But overall, I think we’re seeing good progress,” Akers said.

Students in grades three to eight will continue taking the Maryland School Assessment tests through the 2013-14 school year, according to a June email from Reinhard. The following school year, students will begin taking the PARCC assessment tests, which will examine how well students are doing with the new, more rigorous Common Core curriculum.

Hancock Middle-Senior High’s Maryland School Assessment results usually are released with the High School Assessment results, which are expected later this summer.

Missing the mark

The following schools missed at least one reading or math proficiency target during the 2011-12 school year:

  • Eastern Elementary
  • Fountaindale Elementary
  • Hickory Elementary
  • Maugansville Elementary
  • Pangborn Elementary
  • Clear Spring Middle
  • Springfield Middle

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