County's percentage of satisfactory scores is highest

January 15, 1995|By Lan Nguyen | Lan Nguyen,Sun Staff Writer

Howard County has the highest overall percentage of students scoring at the satisfactory level on the state's new tests, but it has a long way to go to before all of its schools meet minimum performance standards, according to the latest statewide assessment.

One-third of Howard's elementary schools passed some of the 12 categories on the new tests in the Maryland School Performance Assessment Program (MSPAP). The new standards don't formally count until next year.

"We're doing very well, and we might have the highest percentage in the state, but no one in the state is meeting [the new] state standards, so everybody has to improve," said Leslie Walker-Bartnick, the school system's testing coordinator.

School-by-school results of the tests, given last spring, were released at the school board meeting Thursday night. At the elementary school level, most schools did not meet any of the new MSPAP standards in science, social studies, reading, writing or language.

Centennial Lane and Thunder Hill led Howard elementaries' performance, followed by Clemens Crossing, Bushy Park and Waverly elementary schools. No elementary passed the reading or writing tests.

The majority of Howard middle schools are meeting or close to meeting the new standards in math, science, language usage and writing. Burleigh Manor Middle School and Clarksville Middle School had the highest marks.

Many high schools continued to do well on the state's long-standing "functional" tests, although some schools lag in student attendance and dropout rates.

Centennial led with nine excellent and two satisfactory marks, followed by Glenelg, which earned eight excellent and three satisfactory marks. Hammond, Howard and Oakland Mills each received one unmet mark for their attendance or dropout rates. Wilde Lake High had the lowest marks, with six unmet marks.

"We are having difficulty translating the outcomes into instruction," Dr. Walker-Bartnick said. "We've been working with the state on that. The language arts staff [now] has a much better idea on what needs to be done."

The new reading test requires students to think critically, to compare two types of texts -- a poem and a story, for example, she said. "It's much more than understanding what the author says. What we're talking about is reading to be informed, reading to perform a task."

Edward Alexander, the county's elementary school director, said, "We've got to do a better job in reading and language arts."

Hispanic male students had the highest high school dropout rate at 3.3 percent, followed by black male students with 2.8 percent. White male students had a 2 percent dropout rate, and Asian-American male students had a 1 percent dropout rate.

Among female students, blacks had the highest dropout rate, 2.6 percent, followed by whites, 1.9 percent, Asian-Americans, 1.4 percent, and Hispanics, 1.3 percent.

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