- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
A new accountability system no longer pits schools against one another, or state and county averages, but against themselves. School system staff said the focus is less about performance and more about progress.
The Maryland State Department of Education released on Monday the School Progress Index results for each school.
The SPI aims to have each school reach progress based on individual targets. This system replaces Adequate Yearly Progress, which, according to information from the state, assessed each school based on an absolute measure.
According to information provided by Charles County Public Schools, under the new system, individual schools were given targets based on standardized test results from 2011 and have until 2017 to cut in half the number of nonproficient students by school and subgroup.
Subgroups include minorities, lower-income students receiving free or reduced-price meals and special education students.
Progress scores for elementary and middle schools are determined differently than for high schools.
According to a press release from MSDE, progress scores for kindergarten through eighth grade are calculated through three indicators: 30 percent for achievement, or scores from Maryland School Assessments of math, reading and science; 30 percent for growth, which is student improvement on the math and reading MSAs; and 40 percent for gap reduction, the difference between the lowest and highest performing subgroup.
The high school progress index accounts 40 percent for achievement based on High School Assessment results and 40 percent for gap reduction, which is similar to the indicator for elementary and middle schools but includes cohort graduation and dropout rates.
High schools also are measured 20 percent on college and career readiness, which is calculated by determining a student’s success in advanced placement or International Baccalaureate programs; career and technology education concentrations; or enrollment in college, including two-year, four-year or technical education programs.
Charles County does not have International Baccalaureate programs. An example of a career and technology education concentration would be Project Lead the Way, a science, technology, engineering and math-focused program available in all the county high schools.
Charles County School Superintendent James E. Richmond said the new system provides “a good road map” for individual schools, allowing them to see exactly where improvement is needed.
According to the state release, each school receives a score for the indicators and overall progress index. The results from these scores place schools in “strands,” or categories that will allow systems to target which schools require further interventions or recognitions.
The SPI is calculated using a value of 0 to 1 or greater. Schools meeting all targets with an overall score of 1 or greater fall into strand 1. Schools at 0.9 or greater that meet 0 to 3 targets fall in stands 2, 3 and 4. The fifth strand represents a score of less than .9 and meeting 0 to 2 targets.
Amy Hollstein, principal of C. Paul Barnhart Elementary School, said Tuesday that she was excited to be a “Strand 1 school.”
Barnhart, according to data provided by MSDE, made progress in all three of its indicators. The most progress came in the area of science, which scored more than 1 in all three indicators. The high science progress balanced out the lesser progress achieved in reading and math for the school, which were both around 0.8. Schools strive to hit the scale at 1 or greater for each target.
“My first impression is that [the new system] is based on progress. … Kids should be making progress each year,” Hollstein said.
Timothy Rosin, principal of Mary H. Matula Elementary School, said the new system is a good way to gauge where individual schools need to improve.
“It measures Matula’s progress against Matula, as opposed to other schools,” he said.
Matula found itself in Strand 4, meeting none of its three indicators.
While the school made progress in the areas of reading and math for all three indicators, not enough progress was made in science to allow for the other two progress points to meet the targets.
Rosin said plans are in place to make adjustments in teaching strategies in the area of science to help the school meet its target for next year.
Hollstein said, “It seems fair that schools just have to meet a degree of progress each year.”
She said the new system pays close attention to closing achievement gaps between lower- and higher-performing groups. She said the focus on closing these gaps have always been there, “but now it’s part of the equations.”
Richmond said he is hopeful that schools will continue to move forward.
“We can always do better,” he said.