Summit Park Elementary shows high success rate on MSA

Every pupil passed either math or reading portion of test

teachers, families credited

June 23, 2006|By JOSH MITCHELL | JOSH MITCHELL,SUN REPORTER

Results released this week show that every pupil at Summit Park Elementary School in Baltimore County passed either the reading or math portion of the Maryland School Assessment - a success rate matched by few schools in Maryland.

All 164 of the school's third-, fourth- and fifth-graders scored proficient or higher on at least one part of the test. All but three pupils passed both the math and reading exams.

Educators at the school - located less than a mile north of the Baltimore City line and just east of Greenspring Avenue - attribute the strong performance to an all-around commitment to education from teachers, parents and pupils.

"If you go by on a Friday afternoon, there's still cars in the parking lot, an hour after school's ended," said Madlyn Kroll, who teaches fourth grade at the school and often stays late in the afternoon to help children with work. "At 3 o'clock, the kids are still working hard, and they're not thinking there's anything wrong with it."

As a whole, Baltimore County pupils performed close to state averages on the exams, with middle school scores lagging behind elementary school scores. School system officials said they were analyzing the test results.

The county is home to some of Maryland's top-performing elementary schools. At Kingsville, Cromwell Valley and Summit Park, there were three instances each in which all students in a grade who took a particular test passed.

Those schools serve middle-class and relatively affluent areas of the county, with no more than 11 percent of students at any of the schools receiving free or reduced-price meals.

Many of Summit Park's students come from families that get involved with their children's education, Principal Diane Richmond said.

Richmond attributed the pupils' success to "the combination of families that value education and the exceptional teachers."

She said teachers regularly collaborate on lesson plans to ensure that students make a smooth transition between grades. "Our fourth-grade teacher talks to our fifth-grade teacher daily" about teaching strategies, "so that when a child moves from fourth grade to fifth grade, they're not confused by different language or different styles."

And she said teachers have an "open-door" policy. It's not unusual to see pupils working on math problems at chalkboards well before the first class of the day, she said.

Three years ago, Natasha Peacock took advantage of a program that allows parents from low-performing schools to transfer their children to higher-performing schools and enrolled two of her children at Summit Park.

This past school year, she felt that her 9-year-old son Malik, then a fourth-grader, needed to be challenged more. She asked his teachers to provide more homework assignments, and soon he was coming home with additional reading passages with questions, Peacock said.

"They went above and beyond and found things that weren't even part of the curriculum" for his additional assignments, Peacock said. "There was no pressure to get it back within a couple days. He could do it over a period of time."

josh.mitchell@baltsun.com

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