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What you need to know about Maryland's new school star rating system, which came out Tuesday

Maryland is introducing a new school accountability system. Each school will be assigned a rating, from a minimum of one star to a maximum of five stars.

Maryland introduced a new school accountability system on Tuesday that gives parents, students and teachers a way to easily tell how well their school is doing.

For the first time, the public won’t have to wade through a mass of numbers on different places in the state’s website to see how well their school is performing. Instead, schools will get a star and a percentile rating.


Here’s what you need to know about the rating system:

» Each school will be assigned a rating, from a minimum of one star to a maximum of five stars. The number of five-star and one-star schools in the state is expected to be small. Most schools will have two, three or four stars.

» The factors that go into the rating include academic achievement on the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (the PARCC tests), the chronic absenteeism rate, the graduation percentage, the existence of a well-rounded curriculum and the achievement of English language learners.

» Next year, the rating system will include a standardized school survey given to students and educators asking how they view their school. When the state’s new social studies and science tests are added, those results will be added as well.

» The rating system offers an easy way for the public to compare schools in different school districts around the state, such as an elementary school in Montgomery County to an elementary school in Howard County.

» The new star ratings were required by a federal law called the Every Student Succeeds Act or ESSA, which replaced the more punitive No Child Left Behind Act. Most states now have a rating system similar to Maryland’s, using stars or A-through-F grades.

» The lowest-performing schools — the bottom 5 percent — will be labeled in need of “comprehensive support.” School administrators will work with the state to develop improvement plans, and some federal funds will be available to help make changes at those schools.

» The public will be able to see more data on each school than ever before. The data will be more easily organized on one page that allows the public to see not only how many stars a school has earned, but other data that went into the rating, including the number of points the school earned for each factor and its percentile ranking.

» Eventually, the state plans to make it possible for the public to compare schools with similar demographics.