Friday, October 31, 2008–HSA Results Show 90% Meet Grad Requirement

Staff Reports

NEWARK – The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) recently released 2008 High School Assessment (HSA) results for the class of 2009. The class of 2009 is the first cohort of students (this year’s seniors) that are required to pass the tests in order to earn a Maryland High School Diploma.

The HSA results show that 90.3 percent of Worcester County public school seniors have met the HSA graduation requirement.

“We are pleased with the progress that our students are making,” explained Worcester County Public School Superintendent Dr. Jon Andes. “It takes a school-wide commitment, coupled with necessary resources and interventions, in order to achieve this level of success. The reality is, however, that we will not be satisfied until all of our seniors are successful, until we achieve 100 percent.”

HSAs are administered to middle and high school students upon completion of four required courses: Algebra/Data Analysis, Biology, English II, and Government. There are four ways that a student can meet the graduation requirement; the student can: pass each of the four HSAs by meeting or exceeding a minimal score; earn a minimal score after combining the numerical scores of all four HSAs; complete the Bridge Plan for Academic Validation, new HSA-related projects for students who have not met the required combined score and who have taken the same HSA twice and have not met the passing score; or earn a passing score on an approved alternative assessment such as an Advanced Placement exam.

“We have 46 seniors system-wide who have not yet been successful in meeting the HSA testing requirement,” said Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Dr. Richard Walker. “Almost all of these students are receiving assistance during their high school’s after-school academy. Thirty-seven of these students are working on Bridge Plan projects. We believe in providing as many interventions and opportunities as possible to help our students graduate on-time.” Interventions include after-school academies, summer academies, pull-out instruction, and tutoring.

The Bridge Plan is a new option approved by MSDE in 2008.

“Once a student qualifies for the Bridge Plan,” explained Walker, “the student and parents will meet with a Bridge Plan coordinator who will explain the parameters and requirements of the student’s Academic Validation Project Package. The number of content projects a student must complete is based on the student’s score on the corresponding HSA.”

According to Walker, each student will be assigned a content teacher or teachers to help the student understand the Core Learning Goals [required content standards].

In accordance with MSDE regulations, Bridge Plan projects are reviewed by a local review panel, established by the local school system. The school system superintendent will approve or deny a student’s project.

Communication plays a crucial role in the HSA process, officials report.

“Parents receive information about their child’s HSA status throughout the school year,” said Testing and Instructional Coordinator Stephanie Zanich. “Status letters are sent home to all students in grades 10, 11, and 12, explaining the scores and requirements. Our goal is to not only help students and parents understand the testing graduation requirements and how their child is performing in accordance with those requirements, our job is also to match those students with the interventions best suited to meet their needs.”

“Our interventions are absolutely essential in this process,” said Andes. “We must continue to provide our after-school and summer academies, as well as our other interventions, in order to meet the needs of our students.”

Friday, October 31, 2008–Gulyas Says “I’m Running In 2010″

OCEAN CITY – Putting to rest any discussion to the contrary, County Commissioner Louise Gulyas said this week she plans to seek a fourth term representing Ocean City at the county level. Although Gulyas’ term does not expire until 2010, a recent report on possible replacements for her seat encouraged her to make the announcement early. “I am running because … Continue reading

Friday, October 31, 2008–Council Supports Scaled-Back Fire Truck Request

OCEAN CITY – Getting two out of three isn’t always a bad thing, even for Ocean City’s bravest. The Ocean City Fire Department got approval to purchase two new fire trucks totaling just over $962,000 from the City Council on Tuesday, despite originally hoping for three. Fire Chief Chris Larmore brought a proposal in front of the council proposing the … Continue reading

Friday, October 31, 2008–Council Grants Developer Year Extension

OCEAN CITY – A local land developer was granted an unprecedented extension to hold-off on building 18 luxury condominiums for another year, leaving the City Council in the middle of a bitter fight between a cautious businessman and some angry neighbors. At Tuesday’s Mayor and City Council work session, Bob Warfield was granted another year extension, with strict guidelines attached, … Continue reading

Seahawks Bow Out of State Tourney

BERLIN- Stephen Decatur’s men’s varsity soccer team lost a heartbreaker last weekend, falling to visiting Aberdeen, 2-1, in double-overtime to bow out of the state Class 3A-East playoffs. The Seahawks entered the post-season as the four-seed in the Class 3A-East tournament and earned a home date in the opening round against Aberdeen. However, Decatur’s appearance in the tournament was short-lived … Continue reading

Mallards Claim ESIAC Title

BERLIN- Worcester Prep’s boys’ varsity soccer team completed another great season last week, topping Delmarva Christian, 3-0, on Friday to win the Eastern Shore Independent Athletic Conference (ESIAC) tournament championship. The Mallards beat Gunston, 4-1, in the ESIAC tournament semifinals last Friday to advance to Friday’s title game. In the Gunston game, Mike Mollichelli led the way with a hat … Continue reading

Decatur Volleyball Earns Three-Seed

BERLIN- Stephen Decatur’s varsity volleyball, rewarded this week with a number-three seed in the Class 3A-East region tournament, team opens its state playoff run tonight with a home match against Northeast High of Anne Arundel County. The Seahawks, seeded third in the Class 3A-East Region tournament, which gets underway tonight, will face 14-seed Northeast at home. If Decatur advances, it … Continue reading

Decatur Playoff Hopes Improve

BERLIN- Stephen Decatur’s varsity football team cruised past Wicomico, 28-6, last weekend to improve its post-season chances with two very important games remaining on the schedule. Typically, the Wicomico game is one the Seahawks circle as one of its toughest of the season, but the Indians are in a down year and Decatur took care of business in workmanlike fashion … Continue reading

Seahawk Girls Advance in States

BERLIN- Despite the cold, blustery conditions, Stephen Decatur’s girls’ varsity soccer team stayed hot this week, blanking visiting Bel Air, 3-0, in a second-round playoff game at home on Tuesday to advance to the state regional quarterfinals. For a while on Tuesday, it was uncertain if there would be a game with driving rain and cold, windy conditions in the … Continue reading