- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
State data indicate continued improvements in high school test scores and graduation rates in Charles County Public Schools.
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 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 2013 graduating class, 95 percent met the criteria for graduation by passing all the required tests, getting a combined score of 1602 on all four tests, or scoring a combined 1208 if the student did not take the government test.
The remaining 5 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, according to school officials.
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.
Student achievement on reading, mathematics, attendance rate and graduation rate now are measured under School Progress, according to information provided by MSDE. The Annual Measurable Objectives have been changed to reflect school-specific new baseline data and a new target year of 2017.
All six high schools met their individual AMOs for reading and math. Westlake was the only high school last year to miss one of its targets, but the school was able to meet the goal in all areas this year.
Last year, the subgroup for students receiving free or reduced-price meals missed the 88.3 percent target in reading with a score of 79. This year, students in that category reached 85 percent proficient, still below their specific target, which increased to 89.3, but the increase in progress was enough to meet the requirement in what the state refers to as the confidence band.
Westlake Principal Chrystal Benson said she is pleased with the results.
For FARMS students, Benson said staff worked right away to focus on where students were having difficulty and tailoring lessons to meet those areas of need.
“I’m pleased we met AMOs in all academic areas,” she said.
Benson said the goal now is to continue working to close achievement gaps between the lowest-performing students and highest-performing students in each subgroup.
Westlake also made improvements in its graduation rate though it missed the graduation target in FARMS.
The state determines graduation rates using a cohort count. 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, according to information from MSDE.
The state released data for 2012 graduation rates this week.
As a whole,based on a four-year cohort, Charles County increased its graduation rate to 89.8 percent, up from 88 percent in 2011.
Five of the six high schools increased graduation rates. Maurice J. McDonough’s graduation rate decreased from 90.2 in 2011 to 86.1 in 2012.
North Point High School reached greater than 95 percent. The state does not report higher than 95 percent.
Schools must meet individual AMOs for graduation for all students and student subgroubs. Westlake and McDonough both missed targets. McDonough missed its graduation AMO for all students, black students and FARMs student. The groups had targets of at or just below 90 percent.
Westlake missed its 88 percent AMO for FARMS students by a little more than 1 percentage point.
Benson said with staff having to write student learning objectives, or measurable instructional goals established for a specific group of students during a set period of time as part of new state standards, one of those objectives from each staff member will include one that will address the FARMs group to help address the needs in that subgroup.
Charles County Superintendent of Schools Kimberly A. Hill said schools continue to meet expectations as the targets increase year to year.
“We continue to raise standards to make certain our students are college- and career-ready,” she said in a school system news release.
While pleased at the increases in graduation rates, Hill said in the release that there still is work to be done.
“We must continue our focus on teaching and learning to ensure students are engaged and working toward graduation,” Hill said.