Schools close to goals, Hickey says


The Howard County school system has made great strides in achieving five system-wide goals, but it still has a way to go, according to the county schools superintendent.

Superintendent Michael E. Hickey will present an annual progress report on the five goals -- improving human relations and the performance of low or marginally achieving students, helping to mainstream disabled students, strengthening ties between home and school, and developing a more effective plan to assess student performance -- at the Board of Education at today's meeting.

Dr. Hickey said he would give the schools and himself an "A" for effort in achieving such goals as mainstreaming disabled students and improving human relations among students and staff for the past year. But he would give a "B" in most areas, he said.

"I would like to say all five [goals] are finished, and no more effort is needed," said Dr. Hickey. "We plan to be working on them for a few years. All five are going to be the ones we need to address. We set some very important and comprehensive goals."

Rather than changing goals, Dr. Hickey has laid out the same agenda for next school year. The school board approved his plan at a meeting last month.

Among the progress report's findings:

* In addition to bringing on board Jacqueline F. Brown this past year to become the new human relations coordinator, school officials have sponsored nine focus group and worked with a consultant to develop a human relations framework for the next five years.

All principals and nearly all central office personnel have undergone human relations training. This fall, school-based training will begin for all remaining staff, including school bus drivers.

* Consultants visited schools about 400 times and met with more than 3,500 teachers for coaching sessions, workshops or demonstrations to improve the performance of low or marginally achieving students. School officials are in the planning stages of developing a plan to improve black student achievement.

* School officials this past year set up a citizens advisory committee and picked seven schools that will pilot model special education programs this fall.

"The goals were very appropriate ones," Dr. Hickey said. "All five of them were areas of great importance to us. To some extent, all of them were addressed. Even the human relations goal was not achieved, otherwise we wouldn't be going after it again."

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