Friday, Sept 25–County Schools Pull Off Achievement Feat

NEWARK – Public schools in Worcester County posted two milestones this year, with 100 percent of graduating high school seniors passing state assessment requirements and all schools in the system meeting the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) threshold.

The 2009 graduating class was the first required to pass the Maryland High School Assessment (HSA) standards, which call for students to pass Algebra/Data Analysis, Biology, English II and Government in order to graduate. The HSA’s were established in 2004, with full phase-in as a graduation requirement beginning with the class of 2009.

Students can also reach this standard through achieving a minimum composite score on all four tests or by passing a bridge plan project. Students can also gain HSA credit by passing an alternate test such as Advanced Placement exams in those subjects.

Only 11 students in the state did not graduate because they did not meet HSA requirements.

“This is a new floor, not a ceiling. We must continue to raise standards to make certain our students are college and work ready,” said Maryland Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick.

Eighty-eight percent of the class of 2010 has already met the HSA graduation requirement, while 85.6 percent of the class of 2011 have already completed the HSA requirements.

County schools made AYP, measured for elementary, middle, and high schools, across the board in the 2008-2009 school year. Each individual school also made AYP this year.

AYP is a measure of math and reading score progress. In high school math, which is based on the Algebra/Data Analysis HSA, Worcester’s students scored 92 percent proficient or advanced. In the high school reading AYP, based on the English II HSA, county students scored 83.3 percent proficient or advanced.

“This demonstrates the outstanding work that is being done by our teachers and our students,” said Dr. Dick Walker, assistant superintendent in charge of instruction.

All subgroups in elementary and middle school grades reached AYP. The high school special education subgroup was the only subset of students to miss AYP. 

“Closing achievement gaps continues to be our greatest challenge,” said Worcester County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jon Andes. “Students with special needs are required to meet the same levels of mastery as other students, and our current 2009 special education scores at the high school level indicate a need for improvement. We will evaluate what we are doing, how we are doing it, and what resources are needed to ensure that all students meet and exceed the standards.”

The Worcester County school system showed positives on other measuring scales as well for the 2008-2009 school year, with the graduation rate in the county standing at 94.81, compared to the Maryland average graduation rate of 85.2 percent.

Worcester County also boasts a dropout rate of less than 1 percent (0.97 percent) for this school year, which compares favorably to the 2.6 percent drop out rate for all Maryland schools. 

“We attribute our success to the interventions that are in place to meet the needs of our students,” said Walker. “These interventions – such as our after school and summer academies and mentoring/tutoring programs – start early in a student’s education and continue through their senior year. In addition, we have very effective dropout prevention and recovery programs.”