Howard high school marks No. 1 rating Centennial is 'excellent' in each category on state's annual report card a first

February 03, 1997|By Howard Libit | Howard Libit,SUN STAFF

Even in Howard, a county that takes particular pride on how well its students perform on state tests and that touts its top state rankings at every turn, Centennial High School has something to celebrate.

This year, the Ellicott City high school was the first in Maryland to achieve excellent ratings in all categories on the Maryland School Performance Program, the annual report card issued by the State Department of Education.

So the school threw itself a party Friday afternoon -- featuring a schoolwide assembly, music, a pep rally and ice cream.

"Centennial High School is not only No. 1 in Howard County, we are No. 1 in the state of Maryland as well," Centennial Principal Lynda J. Mitic told the school's cheering students.

As she spoke, a banner unfurled above the auditorium stage: "Centennial High School, Excellence in Education, #1 in Maryland."

Centennial held its celebration as Maryland education officials gathered to announce the list of schools being targeted for state takeover because of low student performance. No Howard schools were on that list.

The state's annual report card judges high schools on attendance, dropout rates and the performance of ninth- and 11th-graders on the Maryland Functional Tests.

The tests in reading, math, writing and citizenship -- which all Maryland students are required to pass to receive a high school diploma -- check such elementary skills that Howard and most other school systems start giving the tests to students as early as seventh grade. Once a student passes them, he or she no longer has to take them.

An excellent rating requires a high percentage of students to pass an exam -- more than 99 percent of 11th-graders in each subject. It also calls for schoolwide attendance to be above 96 percent and the school's dropout rate to be below 1.25 percent. A mark of satisfactory has less stringent standards.

As a whole, Howard schools achieved satisfactory or excellent ratings in every functional test, attendance and dropout rate category for 1995-1996 -- a standard matched only by Carroll County.

What set Centennial apart was its excellent rating in every area.

The school learned of the ratings in December, but it wasn't until several weeks later -- after the Centennial staff checked with other school systems -- that it discovered that Centennial was the first high school in Maryland to achieve that standard.

Centennial's staff acknowledges that some of the school's high performance can be attributed to its relatively affluent, stable student enrollment.

Centennial and Glenelg high schools have the lowest percentage of low-income students and the least student turnover in Howard.

Pub Date: 2/03/97

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