Carroll's mixed report card CARROLL COUNTY

November 17, 1992

The state's annual school "report card" results show that Carroll schools are maintaining a high level of achievement. Still, county administrators, teachers and parents shouldn't get overly comforted by the school system's performance.

The third annual Maryland School Performance Report, issued yesterday by the state Department of Education, listed Carroll as one of only two districts -- Howard's was the other -- that met all of 13 standards.

The performance of the state's schools overall has improved with all districts meeting 7 of 13 performance standards, up from 5 of 13 last year and 2 of 8 two years ago.

State school officials were also forthright in pointing out where more work is needed:

* Only 73 percent of Maryland's ninth graders passed the functional math test. (In Carroll, 84 percent passed.)

* The statewide dropout rate is up, apparently due largely to a more accurate count in Baltimore, where the rate is an appallingly high 16.4 percent of high school students. By contrast, Carroll's has dropped to 2.6 percent from 2.9 percent last year.

@0 Carroll County, however, should be concerned about the number of students who do not take courses necessary to meet the minimum enrollment standards for the University of Maryland System. Last year, 29 percent of the graduating students completed the required courses. This year, it was 39.2 percent, but that was still below the state average of 42.5 percent.

In three years, the state has done a good job in setting standards and reporting to the public on whether the standards are met. The state must continue to refine its new tests, which go beyond the basic skills covered in the functional tests to assess student ability in thinking and problem-solving. Eventually, the inclusion of the results of the new tests in the report card -- perhaps as early as next year -- will give a much clearer picture of what students are able to do.

It is also worth noting that there is a correlation between poor performance and lower than average state spending with other counties.

Carroll, which spends about $5,000 per student or about $800 less than the state average, appears to be the exception, however. Judging from the state test results, the county is getting a great deal of bang from its eduction buck.

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