Charles Co. Public Schools News Briefs

County, schools see hike in graduation rates

Graduation rate chart.

Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) graduation rate hit 91.4 percent in 2014, its highest rate since 2010, according to data released by the Maryland State Department of Education this week. As student graduation rates increase, the CCPS dropout rate continues to decline.

The CCPS four-year cohort graduation rate jumped from 89.8 percent in 2013 and has improved more than five points since 2010. Additionally, CCPS students also improved across all subgroups. The CCPS average exceeds the state graduation rate of 86.39 by five points.

"I can't tell you how proud we are of the accomplishments of our students," Superintendent Kimberly Hill told high school principals. She credited principals, teachers and staff for helping students stay in school and graduate with their class. "None of this would have been possible without your hard work and your commitment to being the difference," Hill said.

Four of six high schools posted graduation rates greater than 90 percent. Henry E. Lackey High School's graduation rate jumped from 87.25 in 2013 to 90.51 in 2014. La Plata High School posted a 2014 rate of 92.82, down from 94.64, and North Point High School's graduation rate remained the highest in the county at 95.94 percent, despite a slight decrease. Westlake High School improved its graduation rate to 91, up from 88.3 percent in 2013. Maurice J. McDonough High School increased its graduation rate from 88.75 to 89.07 in 2014, and Thomas Stone High School increased by nearly 7-points, raising its rate from 80.65 in 2013 to 87.36 in 2014.

Gradation rates for students of all races/ethnicity were above 90 percent. Four-year cohort graduation rates by race/ethnicity are:

-- Asian: greater than 95 percent;

-- African American: 90.06 percent;

-- Hispanic/Latino: greater than 95 percent;

-- White: 91.94 percent; and

-- Two or more races: greater than 95 percent.

While gaps in graduation rates between some student groups remain, the numbers improved across the board in 2014:

-- The graduation rate for students receiving free or reduced-price meals (FARMS) increased more than three percentage points, from 79.06 percent to 82.2 percent.

-- The graduation rate for special education students improved more than 10 percentage points, rising to 75.16 in 2014 from 64 percent in 2013.

-- Both girls and boys improved four-year cohort graduation rates. Females bettered their four-year cohort graduation rate to 94.37, up from 93.27 in 2013. A higher percentage of males graduated in 2014, up 2 points from 86.42 in 2013 to 88.56 in 2014.

Hill said, "Even though we surpassed the state average for FARMS and special education students, we still have work to do to close the achievement gaps for these subgroups."

The percentage of students dropping out of school also has declined. The CCPS four-year cohort dropout rate has declined from 6.13 percent in 2013 to 4.97 percent in 2014. The State's dropout rate was 8.35 percent in 2014. Dropout rates provide a cumulative dropout rate across the four years since the cohort first entered grade 9. This rate includes as dropouts those students who did not graduate after four years but did not return for a fifth year. There were 2212 students in the four-year adjusted cohort, with 2,022 earning diplomas in four years.

Maryland five years ago moved to the cohort graduation rate, which follows a set group of students from freshman year through their senior year. The State includes both the four-year cohort and five-year cohort rate in its accountability program. Data released this week is for the four-year cohort graduation rate for the class of 2014 and includes summer graduates. The calculation follows students from the time they first entered grade 9 and includes those who graduate after four years. The five-year cohort rate does not include summer graduates and is released in June.

PARCC testing begins next month, resources available on website

Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) is preparing to administer a new form of testing beginning in March for students in grades 3 through 11. The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, also known as PARCC, assessments in reading and mathematics will be administered in two different windows this school year – March 2-27 and April 20-May 15.

Staring with this school year, PARCC assessments replace the Maryland School Assessment (MSA) exams in reading and math, and the High School Assessments (HSA) in English II and Algebra I. Students in grades 5 through 8 will still take the MSA exam in science in April, and high school students will still complete the HSA exams in Biology and Local, State and National (LSN) Government.

The first part of PARCC testing is the performance-based assessment (PBA), which will be given in March. For the English/language arts portion, students will read several passages and be required to write responses, including evidence that can be used to make a persuasive argument. The mathematics PBA requires students to solve problems, express math reasoning and apply concepts to solve real-world problems. The second part of PARCC testing is the end-of-year assessment (EOY), which will be administered in April and May. Students will be required to demonstrate content specific skills and knowledge by answering a series of multiple-choice questions. PARCC assessments also include accommodations for students with disabilities and English Language Learners.

The change in testing for students is a result of the implementation of the Maryland College and Career-Ready Standards, which CCPS began last school year. The standards define the skills and knowledge students need to be successful in the workplace and postsecondary education, ensuring that students receive a high quality education. The goal of Maryland College and Career-Ready Standards is to assure that children leave school with the real-world skills and knowledge they need to succeed in college and/or careers. In 2011, the Maryland State Department of Education developed Maryland’s College and Career-Ready Standards from the Common Core State Standards.

CCPS has a resource page on their website,, which features information about the PARCC assessments, as well as materials provided by MSDE.

Davis Harlem Wizards event rescheduled to March 19

The Harlem Wizards event originally scheduled for Jan. 27 at Theodore G. Davis Middle School, has been rescheduled to Thursday, March 19, due to inclement weather. The event starts at 7 p.m. and any tickets already purchased for tonight will be honored at the rescheduled event.

Proceeds from the game will benefit the Davis Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support (PBIS) program. The Harlem Wizards will also perform their aerobatic stunts and basketball tricks. Tickets are still available for two of the three levels of seating: general admission and reserved seating. Courtside tickets are already sold out.

General admission is seating in the bleachers and reserved seating is located in the lower-level bleacher areas. Ticket prices are listed below and are per person:

-- Advanced purchase – general admission, $10 for students and $12 for adults; and reserved seating, $18 for students and adults.

-- Tickets purchased at the door – general admission, $12 for students and $15 for adults.

Advanced purchase tickets can be bought at the school’s main office or online at Reserved seating tickets cannot be purchased at the door. Refreshments will also be available for purchase.

Call 301-753-2082 or visit for more information.

Craik team wins second place overall in SMECO Knowledge Bowl

The Terrific Tigers team from Dr. James Craik Elementary School earned a second place overall award out of 26 competing teams at the tri-county level in the 2015 Southern Maryland Elementary School Knowledge Bowl held last month. The team also placed first among 17 Charles County teams that competed in the event, which is sponsored by the Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative (SMECO).

In the event, teams are given 90 minutes to answer 75 knowledge-based questions that cover a variety of subjects, including mathematics, history, science and current events. The questions are uploaded to SMECO’s website for teams to solve, and scores are reported electronically. Twelve teams from Charles County public elementary schools participated in the event against teams from St. Mary’s County Public Schools and several area private schools.

Members of the Terrific Tigers team include Craik fourth graders Hollis Lyon, Jimmy Olmstead and Jordan Surfield, and fifth graders Eileen Browning, Param Jhala and Hannah Krauel. The team coach is Dana Moyer, a learning resource teacher at Craik.

Earning fourth-place overall was the Mighty Mustangs team from Malcolm Elementary School. The team also placed second among Charles County teams. Members of the Mighty Mustangs team are Malcolm fourth graders Benjamin Moore, Sidney Price and Olivia Robinson, and fifth graders Kendra DeFilippo, Dylan Murphy and Christian White. The team’s coach is Pam Jenkins, school counselor at Malcolm.

Earning a fifth-place overall win and a third-place ranking among Charles County teams was the Proud Pride team from Craik. Team members include fourth graders Ethan Cline, Jeannie Hughes and Alayna Steinmetz, and fifth graders Sam Chernoff and Evan Whitten. Dana Moyer from Craik also coaches this team.

Teams from several other Charles County public elementary schools competed in the event, including C. Paul Barnhart, Arthur Middleton, Walter J. Mitchell and William B. Wade elementary schools. Since 1994, SMECO has sponsored the Knowledge Bowl for student teams in the tri-county area. The 2015 event is the final elementary one event to be sponsored by SMECO. For more information, visit

In Focus

The La Plata High School a cappella group Unplugged is hosting the International Championship of High School A Cappella (ICHSA) Mid-Atlantic semifinals at 7 p.m. on Saturday, March 7 in La Plata’s auditorium. At the semifinals, Unplugged will compete against nine other high school a cappella groups for the Mid-Atlantic region finalist position. All first-place regional winners advance to the final event scheduled for April 17 in New York City. Tickets for the March 7 semifinals are available for $15 for adults, and $10 per student, and can be purchased online at Last school year, Unplugged earned first place in the ICHSA Northeast regional event and competed as a national finalist. To compete in a regional event, a cappella groups are required to submit an audition video.

The National Soccer Coaches Association of America recently presented the La Plata High School girls’ varsity soccer team with a gold version of the High School Team Ethics and Sportsmanship Award. The award recognizes teams that exhibit fair play, excellent sporting behavior and adhere to the laws of the game. The gold award is given to teams that completed the fall 2014 season without receiving any yellow or red cards, which indicate a caution or game ejection from a referee during play. The team is one of only 27 collegiate and high school soccer teams to receive the gold-level award for 2014. Kevin Barry, a social studies teacher at La Plata, is the team coach. More information about the awards program is available at

The James E. Richmond Science Center is hosting a special event called February Fun Day on Wednesday, Feb. 4, which is a scheduled day off of school for Charles County Public Schools students. Attendees can pick a feature show to view in the digital dome theater and participate in hands-on activities in the Center’s discovery lab. Tickets are $5 and doors open at 9:45 a.m. Visit to view available shows and viewing times.

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