Harford Week

September 19, 2004

County students beat average in all grades on statewide tests

Harford County students outperformed the statewide average at every grade level on the most recent battery of statewide tests, and school officials say the results released last week show the system is on track toward all students eventually meeting the state's standards.

"I'm thrilled because we have across-the-board improvements, with only a couple of exceptions," said Superintendent Jacqueline C. Haas, who heads the 40,500-student Harford system. "I think it shows the hard work of our teachers, who are doing everything to improve their daily classroom delivery."

High school students, in particular, scored well above the state standards on all four of the subject tests: biology, algebra, English and government. Harford students showed the greatest gains in biology, with 70.1 percent of them passing the test, compared with 59.4 percent last year and a state average of 60.9 percent.

Harford County 10th-graders also outperformed their peers statewide on the Maryland School Assessment geometry test. Countywide, 54.6 percent of sophomores reached the proficient or advanced levels, compared with 48 percent statewide.

The results were especially welcome, given the concerns of county school officials who were worried in January because more than half of the nearly 3,000 high school test-takers had failed the English competency test. This time, 61.1 percent passed.

One exception, Haas said, is the performance of African-American students, who continue to score at considerably lower levels than their Asian and white classmates. Only 28.1 percent of African-Americans achieved advanced or proficient levels on the MSA geometry test, compared with 66.6 percent of Asian students and 59.1 percent of white students.

Aberdeen man gets prison, life supervision in porn case

An Aberdeen man who pleaded guilty last year to possessing child pornography will spend 64 months in prison and then will be supervised for the rest of his life by federal agents, a U.S. District Court judge in Baltimore ruled Wednesday.

The strict sentence was hailed by prosecutors, who said it was the first time in Maryland that a federal judge had imposed life supervision in a child pornography case.

Most people are supervised after their prison time for a few years. But concerns about recidivism among pedophiles prompted prosecutors and child welfare advocates to push for tougher post-prison sanctions.

Morris Lacy Chapman, 53, a civilian who worked with explosives at Aberdeen Proving Ground, pleaded guilty in December to having 18 pictures depicting a 9-year-old girl in sexually explicit conduct.

A civilian security officer at the proving ground found the pictures while clearing out Chapman's locker, prosecutors said. The officer turned the photographs over to military police, who alerted the FBI.

Prosecutors said Chapman told investigators that he was the man in the pictures, which he had taken with a Polaroid camera in 1979. Production of child pornography was not a federal crime in 1979, so Chapman could be prosecuted only for possession, prosecutors said.

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