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.”