Results from 16 pupils mean three schools fail to meet AYP

Education Notebook

August 20, 2006|By JOHN-JOHN WILLIAMS IV

A few pupils made the difference in why three of 56 Howard County elementary and middle schools -- Murray Hill Middle, Oakland Mills Middle and Cradlerock School -- this year failed to meet "adequate yearly progress," or AYP, the yardstick under the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

The AYP measure is determined by factors including standardized tests scores and is used, among other things, to determine whether parents can transfer their children to higher-performing schools. It also can affect federal funding.

In the case of Murray Hill Middle, the school missed AYP because two pupils identified as "English language learners" did not pass the reading portion of a standardized test.

Oakland Mills Middle missed AYP by one special-education pupil failing the reading portion of a standardized test.

Cradlerock fell short when five special-education pupils failed the reading portion of a standardized test and eight pupils failed the mathematics component.

"You can see one or two students can make all the difference in the world," said Superintendent Sydney L. Cousin.

Cousin added that a number of strategies are in place to assist the three schools in the coming year.

"We began addressing this in June after reviewing our Maryland School Assessment data," Cousin said. "We increased staffing for our English for Speakers of Other Languages Program and have already begun providing targeted support to those schools."

Last year, all Howard County schools made AYP after the school system filed and won appeals for five schools: Hammond High, Phelps Luck Elementary, Cradlerock, Patuxent Valley Middle and Wilde Lake Middle.

Land decision

A Howard County Circuit Court jury has determined that the school system should pay $825,000 for land that system officials say is essential to the construction of an elementary school in Ellicott City.

The decision resolves a land dispute between the school system and J. Chris Pippen, a developer who owns the 1.3 acres on Montgomery Road across from Long Gate shopping center.

Pippen, who did not return telephone messages from a reporter seeking cokmment, planned to use the land to build a senior housing complex next to property owned by the YMCA.

The school system wanted to purchase the land from Pippen to provide an access road to the school, which is scheduled to open in August next year. But Pippen wanted more than $1.3 million for the land, said Ken Roey, the system's executive director of facilities planning and management.

The parties could not agree on a price, which resulted in the trial.

Pippen will be paid after the school system's check goes through the county's payment process. Once that process begins, Pippen will have 30 days to vacate the land.

Where's the flag?

When Wossen Ayele, the newly elected student member of the board, was asked to lead the Pledge of Allegiance at Thursday's county Board of Education meeting, he scanned the B-37 conference room in the Applications and Research Laboratory in Ellicott City for an American flag, with no success.

"We'll ask Mr. Ayele to pick a direction," said Chairman Joshua M. Kaufman.

After a chuckle, Ayele focused on a blank video projection screen and began the pledge.

It was the first noticeable side-effect of board meetings being held outside the boardroom in the Board of Education central offices. The boardroom is under a $365,000 renovation that will not be completed until November, said Roey, system executive director of facilities planning, and management.

The renovation will include improvement to the room's sound system, a new presentation area, the addition of three 60-inch monitors so that the board can move toward the goal of establishing a paperless environment and the addition of two seats as the board expands to seven members.

"Our goal is to get it done by the time the new board members sit," said Roey.

Five endorsements

African-Americans in Howard County, a 10-year-old community think tank, endorsed five candidates for the Board of Education in the primary.

The endorsed candidates are: Ellen Flynn Giles, former chair of the Citizens Advisory Committee; Peter A. Sola, a professor at Howard University; Dr. Janet Siddiqui, a pediatrician; Patricia S. Gordon, a current board member; and Kaufman, the current board chairman.

Fourteen people filed with the county Board of Elections to run in the Sept. 12 primary.

The top 10 finishers will go on the Nov. 7 general election ballot, and five will be selected.

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