Nearly half of Howard County’s schools came out with top ratings in the state’s new education rankings, part of a federal accountability system that grades all public schools based on test scores as well as measures such as graduation rates and achievement of English language learners.
The Maryland State Department of Education released data for every public school on Tuesday. Schools were rated from a minimum of one star to a maximum of five.
The program is part of the Every Student Succeeds Act — known as ESSA — an accountability system required by the federal government.
The ratings factor in test scores, including academic achievement on the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, PARCC tests, as well as a school’s chronic absenteeism rates, graduation percentages, achievement of English language learners and whether the school has a well-rounded curriculum.
Of Howard’s 77-school district, 74 schools received a star rating in Tuesday’s report. The report did not include Hanover Hills Elementary, Cedar Lane and the Applications and Research Laboratory, according to Brian Bassett, a schools spokesman.
Categorized as non-comprehensive schools, Cedar Lane focuses on teaching students with special needs and the Applications and Research Laboratory is the county’s career and technology high school, offering courses in aerospace engineering, graphic design and agricultural science.
Hanover Hills was excluded because the school is still in its first year of being open, according to Bassett.
Thirty-one schools received five stars, 36 schools received four stars, six schools received three stars and one school received one star, according to the report. No school received two stars.
The Homewood Center received one star, according to the report. Students attend Homewood if they “have difficulty functioning in traditional classroom settings,” according to the school’s website.
The school system finds “a tremendous amount of value in the ESSA reporting,” including being able to compare Howard’s results with school districts across the state, William Barnes, the chief academic officer, said in a statement.
Schools Superintendent Michael Martirano said in a statement the school system has “thoughtful and purposeful school improvement plans” — yearly plans created to develop areas of improvement for each school — derived from data included in the ESSA reports as well as from insights educators gain in the classroom each day.
Tuesday’s results provide staff with additional information they can use to enhance their improvement plans and measure the results over the course of several years, Martirano said.
Barnes said the school system is looking forward to future reports when additional information on school climate and culture is included.
The school system will use the additional information “to compare progress over time,” Barnes said.
Reporting from The Baltimore Sun contributed to this article.
This story was updated with information from the Howard school system.