2 schools are warned

Failure to meet state goals spurs moves by county

October 29, 2006|By Anica Butler | Anica Butler,sun reporter

County school officials are expanding professional development, starting "twilight" tutoring and expanding summer school after Annapolis High School moved one step closer to state intervention.

Annapolis High failed to meet the state benchmarks for four years in a row on the English portion of the Maryland High School Assessments and in its graduation rate, according to test data released by the state last week.

The school system is required to make changes at the school, which could include replacing its staff.

For the first time, Glen Burnie High School did not meet state goals on the English test, and it has been placed in the local monitoring category, a warning before being put on the state watch list of poorly performing schools.

"I am obviously concerned by the fact that these two schools did not meet the targets set for them," Superintendent Kevin M. Maxwell said in a statement. "As a school system, we will provide every resource we can to help them turn the corner."

Nine county schools are on the state watch list. Old Mill, Meade and Glen Burnie Evening high schools were removed from it after students showed improvement on the English and algebra tests.

The federal No Child Left Behind Act requires schools to have an increasing percentage of students pass the state High School Assessments each year.

Certain racial groups, special education students and children with limited English speaking skills also must meet the targets or the school can be placed on the state watch list for eventual restructuring.

High schools must also increase their graduation rates each year, with a target of 90 percent. The graduation rate at Annapolis High last year was 76.66 percent, and the state average was 85.43 percent.

Before the state's results were released, the school system was working to turn things around at Annapolis High and other struggling schools.

Lynn Whittington, assistant superintendent for instructional services, said the school system has assigned a senior manager for school improvement to Annapolis High, along with a senior manager of accountability, who is helping the staff analyze the testing data.

The executive staff has met with the school staff and is developing an action plan to address the needs of the school. A twilight high school, with free bus transportation for students, is being created so that students can get additional help after school.

"If they don't get what they need during the day, they can catch up," said Sarah Pelham, assistant superintendent for strategic initiatives. "The biggest challenge is they aren't learning what they need to learn. We need to figure out what they know and what they need to know and get them additional support in a smaller venue."

There also will be a summer program for eighth-graders at Annapolis and Bates middle schools to prepare them for high school.

Pelham and Whittington said some initiatives are being implemented across the school system in an effort to remove all nine county schools from the state watch list and prevent other schools from entering it.

"We want zero percent [of schools] in school improvement," Pelham said.

Annapolis High is the only county school in "corrective action," a designation for schools that have failed to meet state targets four years in a row. That category is part of a "continuum of sanctions," said Bill Reinhard, a spokesman for the Maryland State Department of Education.

"It's still the local school system directing the changes at this point," Reinhard said, explaining that the state will have no role in improving the school this year. Changes that could be implemented by the school system include replacing the staff of Annapolis High School, adopting a new curriculum or extending the school year.

If Annapolis High fails to meet state targets for a fifth year, the school system would be required to create a plan to restructure the school and submit that plan to the state for approval.

"This is designed as a local process," Reinhard said of the sanctions. "Local systems, in general terms, know what's best for the school system."

anica.butler@baltsun.com

WATCH LIST

3 off the list

Old Mill, Meade and Glen Burnie Evening high schools have moved off the state watch list for schools in need of improvement.

9 schools remain

Annapolis Middle and Bates Middle in Annapolis; Annapolis High School; Brooklyn Park Middle; Lindale Middle in Linthicum; Marley Middle in Glen Burnie; Mary E. Moss Academy in Crownsville; North County High in Glen Burnie; and the Phoenix Center in Annapolis.

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