Randallstown PTSA drafts proposals to help students

Group seeks training for teachers, night school for disruptive teen-agers

January 16, 2003|By Jonathan D. Rockoff | Jonathan D. Rockoff,SUN STAFF

The PTSA at Randallstown High School is recommending night and Saturday classes for disruptive and truant children and more time for teachers' professional development as ways to help end students' poor performances on standardized tests.

The PTSA plans to ask Baltimore County Superintendent Joe A. Hairston and the Board of Education to implement the ideas.

"We're just hoping Dr. Hairston and the Board of Education will get on board with us," Pamela Williams, the PTSA vice president, said yesterday. "Randallstown is a good school. We have good teachers, and we have good students, but we just need some help."

The PTSA devised the recommendations this week in response to Randallstown's ranking in the bottom third in the state's High School Assessments. They also arrive after several students expressed concern about disruptive behavior in some of their classes, which they said obstructs learning.

Those students said the problems were caused by only a few classmates.

To stop misbehaving students from jeopardizing the learning process, the PTSA recommends removing "chronically disruptive" students from daytime classes and placing them in an after-school program of night classes.

The PTSA also recommends holding Saturday classes for students who are regularly late to school and class.

And it recommends letting students go home early once a month, with teachers using the time for professional development.

"Our goal is to bring the test scores up," Williams said.

Some parents, Principal Malcolm Cain and school system officials have said teachers' inexperience contributes to problems at the school, especially with managing students and preparing them for standardized tests.

Almost 45 percent of Randallstown High's 116 teachers are in their first and second years of teaching.

The Randallstown PTSA's actions occur amid activity to address the poor performances on the High School Assessments by a few high schools on the county's west side.

Milford Mill Academy and Woodlawn High School also scored in Maryland's bottom third on the assessments.

The Minority Achievement Advisory Group, which counsels the superintendent, is expected to soon give Hairston its list of recommendations for improving the schools.

"There's no excuse for what's happening in these schools," said Ella White Campbell, a Randallstown activist who leads the 28-member group, which met last week to question principals and begin formulating recommendations.

In addition, the Liberty Randallstown Coalition is discussing ways to get parents more involved in troubled schools, said Barry L. Schleifer, the coalition's executive director.

And the Liberty Road Business Association has begun looking at how it can spur student achievement.

Richard W. Montalto, the 130-member association's president, said one possibility is providing scholarships and handing out awards to high-achieving students. Henry M. Weisenberg, the executive director, said a second idea is establishing a fund to pay for textbooks and other materials needed at the schools.

Scott Gehring, the school system official overseeing schools in the northwestern part of the county, said he has asked principals and teachers to make a "concerted effort" to reach out to parents and business leaders.

He said the community should attend school improvement meetings and volunteer at the schools.

"It's their children, and we need to be partners," Gehring said.

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