At least 95 percent of the Class of 2011 at Bel Air High School pass the annual High School Assessments, among the highest in the county. (AEGIS file photo / November 13, 2012)

Harford County's Class of 2011 scores on the annual High School Assessments were among the highest in the state and above the state average, according to figures released recently.

In Harford County, 94.8 percent of students met the HSA requirement, higher than the state's passing rate of 90.1 percent. The remaining 5.2 percent of students met the requirement through the Bridge Plan or with a waiver. The Maryland State Department of Education released the data Oct. 31 and lags by one year for accountability purposes. Information on the 2012 graduating class is expected to be available in early 2013.

Most schools districts in the Baltimore-metropolitan area were on par or exceeded the state's average, except Baltimore City at 67 percent of its student passing the assessments.

In comparison, 94 percent of students in Anne Arundel County passed the HSAs, 91 percent in Baltimore County and at least 95 percent in Howard and Carroll counties.

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"This year, Maryland was granted flexibility regarding the Federal No Child Left Behind law," the school system said in a press release announcing the results. "The new Maryland accountability plan focuses on student growth, on-time graduation rates and college and career readiness for all students."

Although the HSAs remain the same, the Annual Measurable Objectives (AMOs), or the state-established proficiency rates, are calculated differently to reflect school-specific data based on baseline data from 2011.

"Rather than focusing on all students achieving 100 percent proficiency by 2014," the release continued, "the new plan sets a trajectory for steady increased student proficiency by 2017."

This year, four of the 10 high schools in Harford did not meet its specific AMO for graduation in at least one subgroup — Aberdeen, Edgewood, Havre de Grace and Joppatowne high schools — and one high school did not meet the AMO in reading — Harford Technical High School.

"As in the past, accountability measures all students, as well as racial subgroups and groups of students receiving additional services, such as special education and English Language Learners," the release stated. "As a result of the NCLB flexibility granted to Maryland, the Adequate Yearly Progress indicator has been eliminated. Therefore, schools not meeting the AMOs will no longer be classified on a school improvement list."

The state's plan now focuses attention on specific schools with subgroups that do not meet their AMOs.

Harford's Class of 2011 had a graduation rate of 87.4 percent, a slight increase from the previous year and higher than the state average at 83 percent.

Harford County Public Schools' Class of 2010 had a graduation rate of 85.7 percent. The graduation rate is calculated by dividing the number of diplomas given out by the number of students who entered the ninth grade four years earlier.

Bel Air, C. Milton Wright, Fallston, Harford Technical, North Harford and Patterson Mill high schools all achieved graduation rates higher than 90 percent, according to a press release from HCPS.

To graduate, students must pass each Maryland High School Assessment (HSA), achieve a combined minimum score on all tests, participate in the Bridge Plan for Academic Validation program or receive a waiver.

"We are proud of our students and staff for their continued hard work and diligence to improve our overall graduation rate each year by ensuring that all of our students receive the proper preparation for life beyond high school," Superintendent Robert Tomback said in the press release. "Our goal remains that each and every student graduating from our schools is equipped for college and/or a career."

The scores

Most schools excelled in algebra/data analysis, biology and government, while English passing scores across the board trailed behind.

Aberdeen High School seniors passed algebra at a rate of 90.9 percent. In biology, 78.2 percent of 12th-graders passed, 85.5 percent in English and 82.5 percent in government.

Juniors had 89.6 percent pass in algebra, 78.5 percent in biology, 83.3 percent in English and 79.2 percent in government.

Tenth graders fell slightly short, with 88.4 percent passing the algebra portion, 80.2 percent in biology, 77 percent in English and 74.4 percent in government.