Harford schools place fourth in state on performance report

December 13, 1996|By Lisa Respers | Lisa Respers,SUN STAFF

Harford County school officials were delighted yesterday with their county's fourth-place showing for the second year in a row on the state's annual Maryland School Performance Report -- and vowed to continue improving.

"If I were a bird today, I would be a peacock," said school board member George D. Lisby. "I'm so proud."

The system -- which has 36,820 students and is the seventh-largest in the state -- ranked behind only Howard, Frederick and Carroll counties in overall performance on six key tests in three grade levels.

And at a news conference at Aberdeen Middle School yesterday, Superintendent Jeffrey N. Grotsky said that while he was extremely pleased with the ranking, he saw no reason why Harford schools could not exceed it.

"We need to be sure that we not only stay good, but that we get better," Grotsky said. "Once we reach No. 1 in the state of Maryland, we must continue to look for ways to continually improve."

Overall, Harford schools met excellent standards in seven of the 12 general areas measured, including attendance at the elementary level and the percentage of 11th-graders passing tests required for high school graduation.

The schools were satisfactory in two other areas: secondary attendance and high school citizenship tests.

Individual schools also performed well under a broader yardstick that includes the innovative Maryland School Performance Assessment Program (MSPAP) tests, which cover such areas as reading, math and social studies.

Using that broader measure, 16 of the county's 39 elementary and middle schools met satisfactory standards. Nine schools met excellent standards.

Students improved in 13 of the 18 specific MSPAP tests. But officials expressed some concern over third-graders' social studies scores, which dropped 10 points -- mirroring a state trend.

"We've checked with the state and been assured that the tests themselves are fine, so now we have to determine what went wrong," said schools spokesman Donald R. Morrison.

School board member Karen L. Wolf expressed concern over a slight decrease in scores on the writing test.

"Our eighth-graders scored above state standards in writing, but our ninth-graders did not," Wolf said. Between eighth and ninth grades, "we are either missing something or we are not focused in the right area. I think that's something we should look at countywide."

Pub Date: 12/13/96

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