- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Charles County’s six high schools continue to make improvements on standardized tests, but while the graduation rate increased as a whole, some subgroups continue to miss the mark.
The Maryland State Department of Education released results Wednesday of the High School Assessments, tests that all high school students must pass in order to graduate.
No Charles County high school student failed to graduate as a result of the tests, which are given in algebra, biology and English.
A government test was included for 2013.
Of the 2012 graduating class, 93.8 percent passed all four tests or got a combined score of 1602. The remaining 6.2 percent passed the HSA requirements by completing a Bridge Plan for Academic Validation project, which is an in-depth subject-specific project used as an alternative to taking the HSA test.
The federal No Child Left Behind Act mandated that all students must score at proficient levels in reading and math by 2014, and progress toward that goal was measured statewide by Adequate Yearly Progress.
AYP no longer will be part of the accountability process, replaced by the Maryland School Performance/Progress Index.
According to information provided by MSDE, student achievement on reading and mathematics, and other academic indicators of attendance rate and graduation rate, are now measured under School Progress. The Annual Measurable Objectives have been changed to reflect school-specific new baseline data and a new target year of 2017.
Westlake High School was the only high school to miss one of its benchmarks for reading or math this year. Four of the six high schools, including Westlake, missed the mark for graduation rates.
Westlake missed in reading for students receiving free or reduced-priced meals, known as FARMS.
The target for that subgroup was 88.3, and students in that group reached 79.
Chrystal Benson, Westlake principal, said the school is taking steps “immediately to hit the target next year.”
She said the school will continue to monitor all of its subgroups and provide resources and remediation based on data the school receives.
Benson said she was pleased to see an increase in the scores of the special education subgroup for reading, which she said increased from the year before.
Altogether, Benson said, “I am very proud of the performance of all my students and dedication of all of the staff.”
The state determines graduation rates using a cohort rate. According to information from MSDE, the adjusted cohort graduation rate ensures that all students who entered ninth grade together are accounted for in the graduation rate at the end of four years and at the end of five years.
The state released data for 2011 graduation rates this week.
As a whole, Charles County increased its graduation rate to 88 percent, up from 86 percent in 2010.
Five of the six high schools increased their graduation rates. Henry E. Lackey dipped less than a point, going from 84.9 percent in 2010 to 84.1 percent last year.
North Point High School had the highest graduation rate at 94.6 percent. North Point and La Plata High School met targets in all subgroups. La Plata had a graduation rate of 92.4 percent.
As for getting all subgroups to meet particular goals, four of the six missed in various areas.
Westlake missed the target for graduation rate for the all-student subgroup, children who receive free or reduced-price meals and white students.
Lackey missed targets for the all-student subgroup, and African-American, white and FARMS students.
Thomas Stone missed for all students, white students and FARMS. Stone had an overall rate of 87.8 percent.
Maurice J. McDonough missed the mark for FARMS students and had an overall graduation rate of 90.3.
McDonough Principal Bradley Snow said the school will focus on those students to determine what each student’s needs are and provide resources necessary.
He said the key in bringing up one subgroup is to do so without losing focus on the areas that experienced success. By doing that, he said, schools may see constant rising and falling in different areas.
Snow said he was pleased overall with his students’ performance. He said the school has worked at getting individual students paired with teachers whom the student relates well to for individual instruction when available. He credits his staff for giving up free time to make the sessions possible.
Benson said at Westlake, the school begins to focus on students when they come in as freshmen. Administrators will communicate with middle school principals to identify any students who are struggling in order to prepare to monitor those students and provide support, such as placing that student in smaller classes, providing them with a staff mentor and keeping in communication with the student’s parents.
In a press release, Superintendent James E. Richmond said that while he is excited the county graduation rate increased, the focus must remain on keeping more students in school and through graduation.