Md. Schools Continue To Meet Rising Achievement Goals

BALTIMORE (Aug. 14, 2008)—Steady growth in reading and mathematics scores for the vast majority of Maryland elementary and middle schools has resulted in their meeting federally mandated student performance targets for 2008.

Nearly 84% percent of Maryland elementary and middle schools met the targets, known as Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), according to data being released today by the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE). School systems in Calvert, Carroll, Garrett, Saint Mary’s, Somerset, Talbot, and Worcester counties had 100% of their elementary and middle school students making AYP.

Maryland also unveiled today its new labeling system for schools not achieving federal achievement marks to differentiate between schools needing greater support from those with more targeted needs. Maryland was one of only six states approved in June by the U.S. Department of Education to implement the new system, called Differentiated Accountability, beginning with the 2008 testing results.

“I am very pleased that this year’s strong MSA results have translated into success for the majority of our elementary and middle schools, even as performance goals move up another notch,” said State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick. “I am especially encouraged that the new Differentiated Accountability system will better support those schools not achieving their annual federal targets. The dedication, hard work in the classroom, and strong grade-by-grade standards are really paying off across the state, paving the way for a brighter future for all Maryland students.”

Statewide, 32 elementary and middle schools, formerly in the State’s School Improvement process, have met their annual AYP targets two years in a row and now are able to operate without federally imposed requirements, according to MSDE data. Another 43 could exit in 2009 if they meet AYP targets. In 2007, nineteen schools exited the program.

The federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) requires that states identify schools not achieving AYP for two years in a row and place them into a School Improvement status to help them improve student performance. To exit School Improvement, schools must achieve federally approved targets for two consecutive years in all race/ethnicity and special services student groups (such as special education or English language learners).

The new data for elementary and middle schools are contained in information being made available today on the MSDE report card website ( Maryland has a long history of school improvement through accountability and assessment. Achievement in grades 3, 5 and 8 has been assessed in Maryland since 1991, while grades 4, 6, and 7 have been included in the accountability program for the past three years. Maryland School Assessment (MSA) results released earlier this summer showed test scores rising across-the-board. Today’s release of school-level AYP data shows parallel improvement in schools across the state.

Under the federal NCLB initiative, schools must show progress in both reading and mathematics across all grade levels and in all race/ethnicity and special services categories—special education, limited English proficient, and economically disadvantaged students. If a school is unable to make progress in all areas, including attendance, for two consecutive years, it is identified for School Improvement status and faces a variety of consequences designed to bring about improvements. In Title I schools, parents may be able to transfer their children out of underperforming schools or take advantage of tutoring services.

Maryland was recently selected by the U. S. Department of Education as one of only six states to implement a Differentiated Accountability pilot initiative for improving schools beginning with the 2008-09 school year.

“This initiative will allow us to distinguish between schools in improvement that need substantial help and those that are closer to meeting their achievement targets,” Dr. Grasmick said. “We will be better able to direct resources and interventions to the specific needs of schools and take a more aggressive approach to schools that are chronically underperforming.”

Under the pilot initiative, schools in improvement are now placed in one of two pathways: Comprehensive Needs or Focused Needs. Comprehensive Needs schools are those that do not make their progress targets in the “all students” category, or are having difficulty making targets in three or more subgroups. Focused Needs schools have achieved targets in the “all students” category but have not achieved targets in one or two subgroup areas.

In addition, the schools will now be further identified as in the Developing or Priority stage of the Comprehensive Needs or Focused Needs categories based on the number of years the school has been in improvement. For example, a school that has been in school improvement for one to three years would be placed in the “Developing” category, while schools in the later years would fall into the “Priority” category.

Based on the 2008 data, Maryland has identified 169 elementary and middle schools for School Improvement status as they enter the 2008-09 school year. Last year 176 schools were identified for improvement.

Of those 169 schools identified for School Improvement status, 92 have been identified as Comprehensive Needs schools (with 33 schools in the Developing Schools category and 59 schools in the Priority Schools category). The remaining 77 schools identified for School Improvement fall into the Focused Needs category (with 54 schools in the Developing Schools category and 23 in the Priority School category).

For a complete list of schools in improvement, go to:

Source: Maryland State Department of Education

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