Higher Expectations in the Schools CARROLL COUNTY

September 03, 1993

The institutional turmoil in Carroll's schools -- and there really isn't very much compared to other Baltimore metropolitan districts -- won't directly affect the county's 23,000 school children when they return to classes Tuesday. They will be free to pursue their lessons and activities while parents, school board members and administrators quarrel over which direction to take to improve school performance.

Even though it is among the top school systems in Maryland, Carroll, to its credit, has been exploring ways to improve academic achievement for the bottom 20 percent of its students who are unprepared to enter college or the work force when they graduate. Four years ago, the school board and Superintendent R. Edward Shilling embarked on an ambitious program known as "Exit Outcomes." Its intent is to raise the expectations for academic achievement by these students and to sustain the high level of accomplishment that the majority of county graduates achieve.

During this school year, the system's challenge will be to more fully involve parents in the development of materials that Carroll's students will be expected to know. Administrators and teachers can then adjust the curriculum and begin using it in the classrooms.

Unfortunately, a noisy minority, pursuing its own agenda, will continue to confuse and distract this important effort. Its influence likely will wane as more parents understand that the purpose of "Exit Outcomes" is to raise educational expectations and results.

The school system has also begun a study of school discipline. Rather than reporting to the Board of Education, as do most committees, this group will make recommendations directly to school principals, counselors and teachers. The results of this endeavor should assist school personnel in dealing with disruptive students.

With Carroll's school-age population continuing to boom, constructing the necessary buildings is another area that merits attention. Administrators are working on a 10-year plan that is intended to reduce school crowding by building the necessary new facilities.

But Carroll's students don't have to worry about these cosmic issues.

Their sole job is to immerse themselves in the joy of learning.

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