High Schools Continue to Meet Rising Achievement Targets

Nine Maryland high schools exit improvement list

BALTIMORE (Nov. 14, 2008) - Consistent improvement in high school achievement resulted in nine Maryland high schools exiting the federally mandated improvement process for 2008.

Three Prince George's County high schools, three Montgomery County high schools, and one high school each in Baltimore City, Baltimore County, and Dorchester County made enough progress over the past two years to exit School Improvement. At the same time, six high schools were added to the School Improvement list.

More than 70 percent of Maryland high schools met improvement targets, known as Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), according to data being released today by the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE). The number of high schools in Improvement has decreased 30 percent since 2005, from 71 to 45.

This high school success is similar to the positive effect of other school improvement efforts in Maryland. Overall, more than 80 percent of elementary, middle, and high schools met the targets in 2008.

System- and state-level data also was released today. The Baltimore City and Prince George's County school systems are currently in Improvement, but both made progress in one of their grade bands. If the similar progress is tallied next year, the systems would leave the Improvement process.

"We are seeing high school students throughout Maryland reaching for a higher level of achievement," said State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick. "Educators and parents are working together to make sure students are succeeding."

The federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) requires that states identify schools and school systems not achieving Adequate Yearly Progress for two years in a row in the same student subgroups and content areas, and place them into a School Improvement status to help them improve student performance. Those schools slated to leave the Improvement process saw their scores rise to federally approved targets for both 2007 and 2008 in all race/ethnicity and special services categories (such as special education or English language learners), according to MSDE data.

Maryland also is instituting its differentiated accountability pilot program, thanks to the flexibility provided by the U.S. Department of Education. Under differentiated accountability, schools having difficulty meeting federal targets in one or two areas are viewed differently than those with broader academic deficiencies. Differentiated accountability allows resources to be targeted to the academic needs of the school, and it provides for a more aggressive approach to chronically underperforming schools.

For more than half of Maryland's schools in Improvement, the differentiated accountability pilot will limit the focus of the interventions that will be used to strengthen achievement.

Individual high school scores, system-level AYP, and state-level AYP data will be made available in the coming weeks on the MSDE report card web site (www.MdReportCard.org).

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 and faces a variety of consequences designed to bring about improvements.

Maryland School Assessment (MSA) results released at the end of the summer showed test scores rising across the board. Today's release of high-school-level AYP data found improvement on a parallel track. Overall, nearly 1140 elementary, middle, and high schools met AYP in 2008, compared to 1050 in 2007.

High schools exiting Improvement are:

Baltimore County
-- Milford Mill Academy

Baltimore City
-- Carver Vocational-Technical High School

Dorchester County
-- North Dorchester High School

Montgomery County
-- Gateway to College Program
-- Longview School
-- Montgomery County Evening High School Centers

Prince George's County
-- Forestville High School
-- Friendly High School
-- Parkdale High School

Source: Maryland State Dept. of Education

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