The Maryland State Department of Education released report cards Thursday grading the state’s public schools for the 2021-22 school year, and Baltimore County Public Schools fared poorly, counting more one- and two-star schools than before the coronavirus pandemic.
This is the first time since the 2018-19 school year that the school report card data has been released. For the new scores, the U.S. Department of Education allowed states like Maryland to make one-time adjustments to their rating formulas. Factors such as standardized test scores, absenteeism and graduation rates, to name a few, were taken into account.
Five Baltimore County schools earned a one-star rating, whereas no schools had that rating for the 2018-19 school year. The number of two-star schools jumped by 10 to 33. Most schools received a three-star rating, though the number did fall by nine compared to previous data; 63 schools, which account for 39% of the district, got three stars.
BCPS Superintendent Darryl L. Williams said in a statement that the star ratings offer a valuable but limited insight into the school system.
“I want you to know there are great things happening in our school system,” Williams said in a news release. “As I continue to visit schools across the county and speak with our teachers, administrators, staff and students, I have seen high levels of student engagement, rigorous teaching and learning, growth in our students and staff and deep community and partnership building.”
The number of four- and five-star schools in Baltimore County decreased by three and two schools, respectively, bringing the totals to 38 and 21 schools each.
Williams shared that the BCPS star average for 2021-22 dropped 0.2 points to 3.2.
Baltimore County’s four-year graduation rate decreased from 89.2% to 86.2%, about 1.8 percentage points below the state average. The only county student demographic to show improvement in four-year graduation rates was English-learners; their rate increased from 57% to 59.2%.
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“The small decrease in the BCPS graduation rate, while concerning, conforms with graduation rate decreases seen both statewide and in several school systems across the nation,” Williams said in his statement. “BCPS students who graduated in 2022, the largest cohort of seniors in the last three years, dealt with pandemic-related disruptions and challenges for most of their high school experience. However, these students persevered and accomplished great things.”
He added, “We are confident that with targeted strategies and supports for our middle and high school cohorts, our graduation rate will resume a positive trajectory.”
BCPS also saw the dropout rate increase 1.1 percentage points to 9.6%, a point higher than the state’s rate.
All student demographic groups showcased improvements in English language arts proficiency. Yet American Indian/Alaskan Native, Hawaiian/Pacific Islander and students of two or more races were the only racial demographic groups to see improvement in math proficiency from the 2018-19 school year. Students with disabilities and English-learners also experienced improvement in the same category.
From elementary to high school, no school levels in BCPS showed improvements in academic achievement or academic progress. Academic achievement was measured through scores from the Maryland Comprehensive Assessment Program, a standardized test. Academic progress was measured by percentage of students achieving proficiency, as well as the percentage of students passing fifth and eighth grade course requirements.
Elementary schools and middle schools documented no improvements in school quality and student success measures.
Elementary schools were the only education level to show progress in achieving English language proficiency. High schools demonstrated improvement in readying students for post-secondary success, as well as in school quality.
A previous version of a table accompanying this article incorrectly stated how many 1-star schools and 3-star schools there are in Harford County. The Sun regrets the error.