Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2008

Fourteen schools exit state watch list

Prince George's County educators pleased with gains

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Prince George's County school officials are pleased that they will start the year with 14 fewer schools on the state's list of underperforming schools.

Four schools were added to the list, however, meaning they failed to meet Adequate Yearly Progress, an annual benchmark for improvement on state tests and attendance and graduation rates, for two consecutive school years.

"Prince George's County public school students and teachers should be extremely proud. Every member of this community should be proud of the success in our schools," school board chairwoman Verjeana M. Jacobs (At-large) said in a statement.

Superintendent John E. Deasy called the results "extraordinary."

"It's our highest achievement level in the county's history," Deasy said.

Last year, 11 elementary and middle schools were removed from the list and four were added. The county still has 46 elementary and middle schools on the school improvement list.

Once schools are added to the watch list, which is called "school improvement," they must develop an improvement plan, sponsor parent involvement initiatives and other programs designed to raise performance. If schools remain in school improvement status, they must execute further measures, which could include replacing school staff or implementing a new curriculum.

In order to make AYP, schools must show improvement on their test scores — Maryland School Assessments for elementary and middle schools and the High School Assessments for high schools — in all subgroups of students, including low-income students and students with limited English proficiency.

AYP results at the high school level have not yet been released.

Last month, the Maryland State Department of Education reported that Prince George's schools made gains in all subject areas in all grade levels. The county's overall average on the MSA tests was 71.6 percent of students scoring "proficient" or "advanced" in reading — which is considered meeting standards under the federal No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 — and 64.4 percent proficient or advanced in math.

Last year, the county had an average of 64.7 percent of students scoring proficient or advanced in reading and 60 percent scoring proficient or advanced in math.

Nine elementary schools on the state's school improvement list made AYP this year, and if they make AYP again next school year, they will be removed from the list.

Go to www.mdreportcard.org for complete a breakdown of county schools' scores.

E-mail Megan King at mking@gazette.net.