County school officials are bracing for a statewide report card that may spell bad news.
For the first time, each of the 24 school districts in the state will be graded on their performances in the three Maryland Functional Tests, attendance and dropout rates. County school officials already are sounding an alarm to prevent what they say may be misunderstandings about the report.
During a press briefing yesterday, School Superintendent Larry L. Lorton said he is concerned about some aspects of the 1989 Maryland School Performance Program, which is a direct result of the Sondheim Commission established by Gov. William Donald Schaefer to improve public schools.
The official report card will be released Monday, but Lorton and staff members say they are concerned about inconsistencies in the way each county measures attendance and dropout rates.
While standards from the state Board of Education specify how attendance and dropout figures should be calculated, school officials claim discrepancies.
For instance, Jewish students who stay home in observance of religious holidays are listed as absent, and students who leave one school but reregister elsewhere in the county are listed as dropouts.
Cheryl Wilhoyte, assistant superintendent for instruction, said the board will be starting new programs to address problems raised by the evaluation process.
She pointed out a shift in emphasis on the state exams. Emphasis will be placed on having students do better on their first tries, rather than on having them pass by the time they graduate, she said.
A community-wide meeting is scheduled for 4 p.m. Monday at the board's Riva Road headquarters to explain the results to the Citizen Advisory Committees, county officials, local unions and interested parents.