There were some surprises with the first-ever School Report Card from the Maryland State Department of Education this week, most notably the fact no public school in Worcester County received a five-star rating on a new statewide evaluation system.
Worcester is annually ranked in the top five in all statewide barometers measuring school systems and has five national Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence. Although the Worcester County Board of Education generally painted a rosy picture with the results, as all schools included received four stars, there had to be a disappointment over the fact no school received five stars. We were disappointed to see it.
“I was a little disappointed a couple of our schools came close to being five-star schools and I just wish they had made it,” Public Schools Chief Academic Officer John Quinn said. “Overall, I just feel relieved we’re in a very solid place. We know what we have to work on. This is the first year in a long process.”
That last point is key. The true impact of this new report card process will be next year and subsequent years as schools dive deeper into this new rating system and how they can improve. Clearly, the goal should be for Worcester to have five-star schools. The good news is a closer look shows at least two schools – Ocean City Elementary and Snow Hill High School – just missed five stars by less than 2 percentage points. Those schools should easily be able to make some improvements to get that highest rating next year.
The new rating system was created by the federal government as part of its latest education initiative, Every Student Succeeds Act. The goal is to increase school accountability as well as heighten transparency for school stakeholders. It all sounds positive on paper.
Although not all of Worcester’s schools were rated this year, we encourage readers to check out the report card’s findings at www.MDReportCard.org to learn more about our schools as they exist today.
The most important information gleaned will be determined moving forward, as schools across the state now have a baseline to compare themselves in subsequent years. Progress will certainly be measured on improved ratings inside the individual schools.
That’s assuming – and it’s risky to do so – the government will not replace this system with a new program if the administration changes hands in two years.