Two Harford County elementary schools on School Improvement list

Two Harford County elementary schools have been identified for "improvement," according to the 2011 Maryland Report Card released Wednesday afternoon.

The results are based on Maryland State Assessments, or MSAs, for reading and math proficiency in third through eighth grade. The tests are in accordance with the No Child Left Behind Act, which also sets Adequate Yearly Progress, or AYP, goals for schools to achieve before reaching the requirement of 100 percent proficiency in 2014.

William Paca/Old Post Road and Magnolia elementary schools entered the School Improvement list in 2010 and have been identified as Title I schools and "comprehensive developing."

The Maryland State Department of Education, or MSDE, created two "pathways" for Maryland schools, the comprehensive needs one, which is in line with the No Child Left Behind pathway, and the focused needs pathway. Being placed in comprehensive shows the schools have a "wider pattern of student subgroup failures," according to Maryland Report Card and focused needs are failures in one or two subgroups in the same subject, out of mathematics or reading.

Then, schools are identified as developing or priority, depending on how long they have been on the School Improvement list.

Because they are starting their second consecutive year as comprehensive developing, without hitting any Adequate Yearly Progress, or AYP, goals, Magnolia and William Paca are required to offer parents transfer choices to other schools, as well as Supplement Educational Services. Those services are offered as after school tutoring by the MSDE to eligible Title I students.

A school release did show, however, that there was some progress at those two schools, including a 17-percentage point increase in proficiency for special education students and a 5 percent increase for all remaining students.

For any schools to be removed from the list, according to school system Manager of Communications Teri Kranefeld, they need to meet AYP for two consecutive years.

The MSDE also identified advanced and proficient MSA results for the county overall based on each grade level. In 2011 this amounted to reading proficiency of 87.3 percent of third graders, 92 percent of fourth graders and 92.6 percent of fifth graders, compared to 2010 results of 86.5 and 89.5 where there was an increase.

Reading proficiency in 2010 was at 93.3 percent for fifth graders, higher than the 2011 rating.

For math proficiency or better in 2011 there were 88.2 percent of third graders, 92.5 percent of fourth graders and 86.4 percent of fifth graders. This is a partial increase from 2010, when 86.4 percent of third grade and 92 percent of fourth grade scored as proficient or better.

Math proficiency had dropped in fifth graders since last year, however, when it was at 88.7 percent.

These scores are higher than state averages for reading and math proficiency in 2011. On the state level, 85.1 percent of third graders, 88.7 percent of fourth graders and 90.2 percent of fifth graders scored as proficient or advanced. On the math side, 86.3 percent of third grade, 90.3 percent of fourth grade and 82.3 percent of fifth grade students were proficient.

Overall, according to the school release, 75 percent of elementary schools met those AYP goals. Four of those schools achieved reading and math proficiency over 95 percent: Forest Hill, Fountain Green, Ring Factory and Youth's Benefit.

"As our schools reach the highest levels of proficiency – well into the 90's – significant increases become more difficult to achieve," Superintendent of Schools Dr. Robert M. Tomback, said in a news release.

In addition to Magnolia and William Paca, seven other elementary schools did not meet AYP, but these were not put on the School Improvement list, including Bakerfield, Churchville, Deerfield, Edgewood, Hall's Cross Roads, Meadowvale and Riverside.

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