Maryland high schools showing improvement

Nine work their way off state's watch list

three are added

November 15, 2008|By Arin Gencer | Arin Gencer,

Nine Maryland high schools have been removed from the state's watch list after performing well enough to leave a required improvement process, officials said yesterday.

Three other schools - in Baltimore City and Frederick and Montgomery counties - have been added to that list, having failed to make "adequate yearly progress" two years in a row.

"We've had some nice improvements this year that have been not the result of one year's work in schools, but rather represent what's been happening over several years," said Ronald A. Peiffer, Maryland deputy state school superintendent.

Under the federal No Child Left Behind Act, states must annually identify schools and school systems that have not met targets - called adequate yearly progress, or AYP.

When they don't progress in the same areas for two consecutive years, they enter "school improvement" status. Once on the watch list, individual schools as well as school districts must make AYP for two years in a row to exit.

In the Baltimore region, Carver Vocational-Technical High School in Baltimore and Milford Mill Academy in Baltimore County exited this year.

The three schools that have entered the improvement process are Maryland Academy of Technology and Health Sciences, a city public charter school; Montgomery County's Watkins Mill High; and Frederick County's Flexible Evening High.

More than 70 percent of high schools met improvement targets, according to school officials. The number that did not make AYP has dropped to 227 in 2008 compared with 311 in 2005, Peiffer said.

Baltimore City and Prince George's County are the only districts on the watch list.

This year, the state is evaluating the schools on the list differently, based on a new structure to account for improvement even when they fall short of the targets. The interventions at a school that missed the mark in one area, such as special education, will be different and more targeted than the action taken at a school where the overall population, or multiple subgroups, failed.

With the new system, schools in improvement for 10 consecutive years will be audited.

In Baltimore City, 21 high schools made adequate progress this year, compared with 11 last year. Eighteen city high schools still did not make AYP.

Of the city schools that improved to meet their targets, five are on the state watch list and will try to be removed in 2009: Digital Harbor High, Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical High, Edmondson-Westside High, Reginald F. Lewis High and Central Career Academy at Briscoe.

Peiffer said this year marks the first time the city and Prince George's County systems have made AYP in at least one or more of the "grade bands" - elementary, middle or high school.

In Baltimore County, Dundalk High and Woodlawn High did not make adequate yearly progress this year, and have been on the watch list since 2004. Woodlawn, which went from a failure to meet requirements in 10 areas to just one, recently underwent restructuring, and started this school year with a new principal and a plan to foster improvement.

All 12 of Anne Arundel's comprehensive high schools made AYP, with the exception of Glen Burnie Evening High School and Phoenix Annapolis, a school for developmentally challenged students. Annapolis High School, which met the target for the first time in six years, still remains on the state's watch list.

Baltimore Sun reporters Nicole Fuller, Mary Gail Hare, Sara Neufeld and John-John Williams IV contributed to this article.

adequate yearly progress

Nine high schools that met federal targets are no longer classified as needing improvement:

Carver Vocational-Technical High School, Baltimore City; Milford Mill Academy, Baltimore County; North Dorchester High, Dorchester County; the Gateway to College Program, Longview School and Montgomery County Evening High School Centers, Montgomery County; and Forestville, Friendly and Parkdale highs in Prince George's County.

Three schools that missed the targets have entered the improvement process:

Maryland Academy of Technology and Health Sciences (public charter school), Baltimore City; Watkins Mill High, Montgomery County, and the Flexible Evening High, Frederick County.

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