Maryland schools strive for good grades

Nancy S. Grasmick

November 19, 1991|By Nancy S. Grasmick

A YEAR AGO, Maryland published its first report card on schools. Last Tuesday, the state released its second report, showing that schools have made progress toward achieving rigorous standards. Last year's report was a significant achievement for the state, marking the first time that a state and all of its school systems published consistent information on the condition of education.

This year, the state report looked at its progress over the past year and added some new information on school performance. The real achievement this November is happening at each of the state's 1,237 schools. Parents across the state are now receiving copies of the performance report on their children's schools.

These school report cards will help guide improvement activities in the coming months with test data, attendance figures, dropout rates and other information. Schools will use their report cards in the coming months to help plan where to channel their limited resources. Each November hereafter, Maryland schools will look at their annual performance report in much the same way that parents look at their children's quarterly report cards. They will asked, "Where are we meeting the grade and where do we need to improve?"

School staffs will do what good parents typically do with their report cards -- they will delve further for the rest of the story. They will look for the problem areas, and they will work for change and improvements.

The Maryland School Performance Report makes sense for the state, not as a list to compare "good" schools with "bad" schools, but rather as an indicator of what is right with schools and what is wrong.

As with any report card, looking at one's achievements can sometimes be rewarding and painful at the same time. It is my sincere hope that, as Maryland's parents read their school report cards for the first time, they will join the school in celebrating the successes. It is also my hope that communities will behave just as any good parent would in addressing the weaknesses shown in the report card.

Nancy S. Grasmick is state superintendent of schools.

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