Four Baltimore schools among 9 in state added to `reconstitution' list

Also, officials upgrade 5 that have improved

January 30, 2002|By Mike Bowler | Mike Bowler,SUN STAFF

The state placed nine low-performing schools - four in Baltimore and five in Prince George's County - on the official failing list yesterday.

At the same time, state officials upgraded four city schools and one in Prince George's, saying they're on the way - but not quite - out of the academic woods known as "reconstitution."

The reconstitution designation means the schools have failed to meet state standards or make progress for several years. They have to draw up improvement plans, but they receive technical assistance and additional money from the state.

Added to the reconstitution list were Dickey Hill Elementary and Harlem Park Community Center in West Baltimore (a middle school), Canton Middle School in East Baltimore and Robert Poole Middle School in Hampden.

In Prince George's, Arrowhead, Concord, John Eager Howard and Riverdale elementaries and Andrew Jackson Middle School were added.

The additions bring to 107 the number of schools reconstituted in Maryland since 1994. Eighty-five are in Baltimore, 20 in Prince George's and one each in Anne Arundel and Baltimore counties. State schools Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick announced Monday that City Springs Elementary in East Baltimore has come off the failing-school list because of steadily improving test scores and attendance.

The upgraded schools have made three consecutive years of progress.

They are Dr. Carter G. Woodson Elementary, Edgecombe Circle Elementary, Chinquapin Middle and Patterson High schools in Baltimore and Overlook Elementary in Prince George's.

The state Board of Education invited the five principals to its meeting yesterday to share the secrets of their success. Most said they hoped to be off the failing list next year.

Laura D'Anna, the Patterson principal, noted that hers was the first high school placed on the reconstitution list in 1994, "and I'd be pleased to be the first high school off [the list]."

Board member Reginald L. Dunn, of Mitchellville, scolded officials from Baltimore and Prince George's, noting that only a handful of reconstituted schools have earned their way off the list. "Many of these schools have been on there for years," he said.

Cassandra Jones, Baltimore's chief academic officer, answered that her system is putting "laser focus [on] instruction."

Most of the schools new to the failing list have attempted reform. Canton was praised nationally in the 1980s for its middle school programs, and Harlem Park was in the limelight in the mid-1990s as the lone middle school in the city's first venture in school privatization. In three years of operation by Education Alternatives Inc., Harlem Park registered hardly a blip of improvement in test scores.

In other action yesterday, the board elected Marilyn D. Maultsby of Baltimore president. Maultsby, who had been vice president, replaces Raymond V. "Buzz" Bartlett, who left the board because of potential conflicts with his new job as head of a national education reform group.

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