State's school systems prove slow to make grade . . . A county encoruaged

November 13, 1991|By Sandra Crockett | Sandra Crockett,Baltimore County Bureau of The Sun

Baltimore County high school juniors exceeded state academic standards, according to Maryland's latest report card on school performance.

But county ninth-graders failed in two subjects, and middle and high school attendance didn't make the grade either.

Noting that the district met or surpassed 10 of the 13 goals set by the Maryland State Department of Education, Superintendent Robert Y. Dubel said, "This is a very encouraging picture."

Mr. Dubel said that even in the areas where the 89,700-studentdistrict fell below state standards, such as middle and high school attendance, the performance was "not all that shabby."

However, he said, "We obviously will not be satisfied until we exceed state goals in all 13 categories."

A systemwide plan for addressing problem areas is being developed and should be ready by Jan. 30, he said.

The district's high school juniors exceeded state standards in reading, math, writing and citizenship, while ninth-graders surpassed the standard for reading and met it in mathematics, butfailed in writing and citizenship (knowledge of the U.S. government).

Students were assessed in those areas, along with attendance and rates of graduation and promotion. Students must pass tests in the four academic subjects to graduate.

At Sparrows Point High School, principal G. Keith Harmeyer, was pleased by the report. The test results show that all of the school's 11th-graders exceeded state standards in reading, mathematics, writing and citizenship.

"Is that great or what?" Mr. Harmeyer said. He attributed the students' performance to intense individual attention for students who need help. "Teachers volunteer before school and after school," he said.

Charles Demback is a teacher, chairman of the English department at Sparrows Point and one of those who volunteers his time.

"The teachers keep working with the students who need help," he said.

Sparrows Point ninth-graders did not do as well as those in higher grades, but they outpaced ninth-graders districtwide by exceeding the state standard in reading, meeting it in mathematics and writing and failing in citizenship.

According to the report, black students, who make up 18 percent of the county's school population, accounted for 22 percent of the special education enrollment.

The result is consistent with a recent report on the district's efforts to boost minority achievement, which showed that, despite gains, more needs to be done to close the gap between black and white students.

The findings worried Wyatt Coger, parent of a Randallstown Senior High School student and a member of Education Coalition of Organizations, an advocacy group that often speaks for minority students.

"African-American kids are being failed," Mr. Coger said. "I'm not saying [the schools] are not making an effort, but it's too little." he said.

However, he expressed optimism about his son's school, saying, "The new principal is trying to move forward. There are a lot of things they need to do. They are pro-active."

Baltimore County

Highlights of the 1991 Maryland School Performance Program

report, the second annual state "report card."

Baltimore County:

* Was one of only four counties graded excellent in seven categories

* Made te grade in all categories except secondary attendance, and writing and citizenship for ninth-and 10th-graders.

* Improved in math, reading and dropout prevention, but recorded big drop in writing.

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