- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Just as the deadline approached for all students to pass state tests, the rules were changed, leaving the last decade’s work in question.
The Maryland School Assessments are still given to students in grades 3 through 8 for reading, math and science. Results for last spring’s reading and math tests were released by the state Tuesday.
Beginning with last school year’s results, the tables will be reset and schools now have six-year goals to show improvement, after Maryland applied for and received a waiver this year to the federal No Child Left Behind requirements.
The state is now transitioning to a new accountability system and will no longer measure what was known as adequate yearly progress.
Schools will now be graded by what is known as the Maryland School Performance/Progress Index, which still places expectations for all Maryland public schools but pays particular attention to the state’s lowest-performing schools.
Each school in the state will have an individual target that by 2017 is intended to cut in half the percentage of students who fail to reach proficiency levels on state tests.
“This was flawed all along,” Superintendent Michael Martirano said of Maryland State Department of Education’s answer to the federal No Child Left Behind law. Under adequate yearly progress, schools were to have all students score proficient on state tests by 2014; those that did not achieve this goal were labeled as failing schools.
“That’s not a reflective reality check of what’s occurring in schools,” Martirano said of the label. “That is not right, that is just not right.”
He said there was an obvious flaw in the system when high-performing schools such as Leonardtown Middle School were saddled with the failing label. Last year 45 percent of the schools in the state did not make adequate yearly progress.
The labels affixed to schools under the old process have been eliminated, along with some of the benefits that came with those labels. Schools will no longer be required to offer supplemental tutoring services for students at underperforming Title I schools and parents cannot transfer students to other schools (although students previously transferred can remain in their current school).
Under the new state rules, schools will be grouped by similar strengths and weaknesses to more directly align resources and support.
“It’s all about growth in a particular school,” said Bill Reinhard, a spokesperson for the state education department.
He acknowledged that the goal of having all students from all schools pass the standardized tests by 2014 was daunting and “perhaps not possible,” given the varied circumstances of children.
“It wasn’t achievable at a certain point,” he said.
The new performance measurement and index will focus more on improvement within a school. The tests will still matter, he said, especially once new teacher evaluations go into effect next year that tie in students’ scores.
Schools will now have one number assigned to indicate their label of achievement.
The performance/progress index will look at growth in test scores at elementary and middle schools and graduation rates and other data at high schools.
The index for elementary and middle schools will be based on student achievement, growth in scores and the gaps in MSA scores among subgroups of students.
The high school index will be based on the achievement and gaps in High School Assessment test scores and, to a lesser degree, on graduation rate, career attainment and attendance.
The state’s lowest-achieving 5 percent of schools will be called priority schools, while schools with the largest gap between overall student averages and subgroups based on race or special services provided will be labeled as focus schools. Those schools will have a menu of items to chose from to meet those schools’ needs and reduce achievement gaps.
Percentage of proficient and advanced on the 2012 Maryland State Assessment
Reading St. Mary’s Maryland
Elementary 90.4% 88.2%
Middle 83.3% 82.1%
Math St. Mary’s Maryland
Elementary 92.1% 87.7%
Middle 83.1% 76.2%
For more information, visit the website www.mdreportcard.org.