More than 30 Baltimore schools that have failed to meet standards for several years in a row will be forced by federal law to undergo a major overhaul this fall, while virtually every struggling school in Baltimore County improved its performance on testing this year.
City parents and students will begin seeing new teachers, principals and curriculum, particularly in the middle and high schools trying to meet new requirements, Baltimore officials said.
State education officials, who are charged with implementing the federal No Child Left Behind Act, released the annual list of troubled schools yesterday. Outside the city, a large number of schools across the region made great strides.
In Baltimore County this year, seven schools failed to meet the academic targets set by the state. "For a school system this size [more than 160 schools], I think that's a remarkable accomplishment," said county schools spokesman Charles A. Herndon.
Only two middle schools in Harford County failed to meet the standards, and all of the county's 32 elementary schools and 10 high schools passed.
All Carroll County schools met the standards, the only system in the region that can claim that distinction. Howard County had only three schools on the list, while Anne Arundel County had 11 schools -- with three new schools added and three taken off this year.
And in the city, seven schools did well enough two years in a row to escape the failing list, while four were added.
Of more than 60 schools that had not met standards for at least two years in a row, 30 improved this year. "I really do feel on balance, this is really more good news," said Chief Executive Officer Bonnie S. Copeland.
Of the city's 184 schools, 115 met all the reading and math targets, which Copeland said she believes is "incredible."
The system is writing a detailed plan to reform its middle schools. In high schools, planned changes include revamping the ninth-grade curriculum.
About 12 Baltimore elementary schools will start a new reading curriculum that has been blessed by federal education officials.
While the state is forcing the city to overhaul 32 schools, Chief Academic Officer Linda Chinnia said they plan to implement the same strategies in 60 schools.
The data presented yesterday -- based largely on results of this winter's Maryland School Assessment exams -- is preliminary and could change after attendance and dropout figures are factored in, according to Maryland officials.
The state chose to release the data this week because parents must soon choose whether to seek to transfer their children out of failing schools, or apply for free tutoring services paid by school systems. Those options are only available for pupils in failing schools where a majority come from low-income families.
Among the 46 Baltimore County schools that did not make adequate progress last year, all except two -- Sandalwood Elementary in Essex and Evening High School -- made adequate progress this year. Evening High is not a single school, but a countywide program serving students who have been unsuccessful in traditional academic settings.
Because they did not show improvement over two consecutive years, Sandalwood and Evening High will enter the state's "school improvement program," which provides extra resources in exchange for required academic results.
Schools in the program that fail to improve eventually face sanctions, including the elimination of federal funds.
Meanwhile, the two Baltimore County schools already on the failing list -- Winfield Elementary and Woodlawn Middle -- made adequate progress in every tested area this year. If they show another year of improvement, they will be taken off the list. Parents at those schools have the option of applying for transfers or tutoring.
An additional five schools -- Chatsworth School, Church Lane Elementary, McCormick Elementary, Arbutus Middle and New Town High -- did not make adequate progress for the first time this year. Those schools will enter the school improvement program if they again do not improve next year.
Two of Harford County's eight middle schools -- Edgewood and Aberdeen -- failed to meet standards, because either low-income or special education students did not pass the tests.
Donald R. Morrison, spokesman for Harford's public schools, emphasized a school can fail to meet the standards if just one group of students is behind.
"It doesn't mean that Edgewood and Aberdeen failed as schools," he said. "They achieved [standards] in every other group."
Although six of Howard's elementary schools have worked their way off the school improvement list, eighth-graders in special-education programs at Elkridge Landing and Murray Hill middle schools did not make adequate yearly progress targets on the reading exam.
Three Anne Arundel schools improved and were taken off the failing list while another three -- Belle Grove Elementary, Chesapeake Bay Middle and Arundel Middle -- are on the needs-improvement list for the first time.