Schools post state's best performance Requirements met in all 13 categories

November 16, 1993|By Lan Nguyen | Lan Nguyen,Staff Writer

Howard County schools posted the best performance in the state for the fourth year in a row on Maryland's annual school report card, the only district to meet state standards in 13 categories.

But like all other Maryland school systems, Howard failed to meet proposed standards in the 12 categories of a new statewide testing program that measures how well students use what they are taught in the classroom.

The 33,000-student district received eight excellent and five satisfactory marks in the Maryland School Performance Program Report, which measured performance of the state's 24 school districts in the 1992-93 school year.

The report, issued yesterday, also indicates that Howard County's black students are closing the gap on academic achievement, although they still lagged behind their Asian and white counterparts.

Superintendent Michael E. Hickey said he was pleased with the school system's overall progress, though he said more work needs to be done.

"What makes us successful is the quality of the staff we have," he said. "Fortunately, we didn't have to lay off any of them [because of budget cutbacks]. They were able to make up through good teaching, despite the loss of supplies and materials. I think the credit is theirs."

Others around the county agreed.

"We have a community in Howard County that is dedicated to quality education, and teachers and support personnel who are devoted . . . to their students," said James R. Swab, president of the local teachers union. "We have a community that prides itself on education."

"Obviously, PTA Council is pleased with the result," said Lynn Benton, president of the countywide PTA group. "I think we have excellent teachers and an earlier investment in curriculum development and staff development. A big part of it also is we have involved parents."

In this year's report, Howard posted the state's lowest annual high school dropout rate, 1.65 percent, compared with the state average of 5.3 percent. It also reported the second-highest elementary school attendance rate, 96.1 percent, and the fourth-highest high school attendance rate, 94.5 percent.

"I'm glad we were able to maintain our position," Dr. Hickey said of the school system's performance. "I hope that underscores for the citizens in the county that their education dollars are being well spent."

Howard, which spent an average of $6,481 per student last year, compared with $5,823 statewide, also had the lowest percentage of students on free and reduced-price meals -- 6.7 percent, compared with 28.2 percent statewide.

One major improvement this year came in the area of black student Black female ninth-graders, for example, made major strides on the functional math test, one of four tests all students must pass to graduate. Last year, 73 percent of black ninth-grade females passed, up from 60 percent the previous year.

As a group, those students still lagged behind Asian ninth-grade females, who had a 92.8 percent pass rate and white ninth-grade females, who had a 91.7 percent pass rate.

The county did not meet any of the state's proposed standards on the Maryland School Performance Assessment Program, which tests how well third-, fifth- and eighth- grade students apply what they have learned in math, science, social studies and reading.

Even so, said Dr. Hickey, the county "came out . . . pretty well, given that nobody met the standards. . . . I expect we'll do good leaps in that area in the next two years."

The state has not yet given final approval for proposed passing rates on the new math, science, reading and social studies tests.

More than half the county's 31 elementary schools scored excellent marks in the categories on which they are judged: the promotion rate and the attendance rate. There was no score for Rockburn elementary, which opened this fall.

Among middle schools, Dunloggin was the only one to earn a mark of excellent in all categories. There were no test results for Burleigh Manor middle, which opened two years ago, or for Mount View middle, which opened this fall.

Among high schools, Centennial again ranked the highest, with excellent performance in 10 of the 11 high school categories. The school's one satisfactory score was in attendance, 95.8 percent, just shy of the 96 percent rate necessary for a score of excellent.

Mount Hebron ranked second among high schools, with excellent performance in eight categories. It scored satisfactory in two categories: attendance, 94.9 percent; and the pass rate among 11th graders in the state's functional math test, 98.6 percent.

Glenelg ranked third among high schools, with excellent performance in eight categories and satisfactory in three. Hammond posted excellent scores in seven categories and satisfactory scores in four.

Three high schools received at least one unsatisfactory grade.

Oakland Mills lagged behind in attendance, while Howard posted an unsatisfactory attendance rate and an unsatisfactory

pass rate for ninth graders taking the math test required for graduation.

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