Wednesday, 12 Dec 2018

Star power: more than half of Maryland schools get top marks in new system

More than half of Maryland's schools received top marks – four or five stars – as part of a new school performance monitoring system rolled out Tuesday. Maryland officials felt that the filing system and a "tracking sheet" filled with data on each school were major steps in transparency, indicating that the public could access more detail than ever before on measures of success. 1,400 public schools of the state. "This is the first time we have been able to provide educators and parents with such a comprehensive picture of school and school system performance," said Karen Salmon, Superintendent of Schools. Schools in DC's suburbs resisted well with the new system. More than three-quarters of Montgomery County schools, where the state's largest system is located, scored 4 or 5. In the nearby city of Prince George, the second largest system in the province was Maryland, 44% of schools scored the highest, four or five stars. and 44% attracted three stars. Relatively few schools have been ranked a single star, most in troubled areas of Baltimore. The states of the country and the District of Columbia adopt similar liability systems, imposed by federal law, some using stars, others alphabetic notes or numerical scores. [Can schools be fairly ranked on a five-star system? D.C. is about to try.] Maryland schools get one to five stars after being evaluated on a formula that includes test scores, year-over-year progress, curriculum, absenteeism, learner skill gains English and other factors. State officials have stated that they intend to make their system rich in numbers and easy to access so that the public can see how a school in a community compares to another school. They said the system would identify areas for improvement and schools in difficulty would become more state assisted. "It provides an unprecedented level of detail and transparency on the situation of every school in Maryland," said Justin Hartings, chair of Maryland State's Education Council. "One can certainly look at the number of stars and draw some conclusions, but I hope people will look at all the other details." The goal is not to stigmatize schools that could receive a star, he said. Collect data on many facets of academic achievement in one place so that parents and educators have more access to data on school results. "This is really a new way of thinking about the responsibility of schools in Maryland," he said. The system was developed in the last two years, as state officials sought to comply with the requirements of federal and federal laws. Parents, teachers, principals, students and advocates have been involved. But divergent points of view appeared on the notation and the approach. "This is the result of a series of compromises and no one will be perfectly happy," said David Steiner, a member of the state's board of directors. Here is how the formula works: schools with 75% or more of the possible points are awarded five stars and the thresholds are 60% for four stars, 45% for three stars, 30% for two stars and less than 30 stars. % for a star. . Some critics have called the star rankings too simplistic and warned that they could unfairly mark schools in trouble rather than help them improve. "Evaluations do not overturn schools," said Cheryl Bost, president of the Maryland State Education Association, the state's largest teachers' union. "It's the educators, the parents, and the local communities doing that." Bost expressed concern that the star system was "a quick and smart way to look at accountability," and said the union would not had not supported him. "It gives a very superficial overview of something very complex," she said. Prince George County extolled its results, stating that more than 80% of schools received three, four or five stars. "The new state accountability system provides a snapshot of how schools help students succeed in the classroom and beyond. We will use it as a tool to strengthen teaching and learning, "said Monica Goldson, Interim Executive Director of the Prince George System, in a statement. In Montgomery County, officials described the state's rating system as limited and announced that they would create school-to-school profiles, called "equity accountability reports," from of January. Montgomery's efforts will go beyond state test results to include student grades and exam results at the district level. It will also adopt a more detailed approach to performance data for black and Hispanic students and those living in poverty, officials said. They said that while the state system allows comparisons from one district to another, it is less useful for understanding individual educational outcomes. "It's not enough to analyze our very large and very large system," Superintendent Jack Smith told reporters at a recent briefing. School spokesman Derek Turner said the district was pleased that more than 75% of schools are getting a four- or five-star rating, but that there is still much work to be done to ensure that all students learn. "This is good news, but we want to deepen it," he said. State officials welcomed the additional analysis. "To the extent that Montgomery County or any other district in the state wishes to provide additional information, I do not consider it a threat or a criticism. I see this as a great addition to the baseline already provided by the state, "said Hartings, chairman of the state's education council. Michael Petrilli, president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a think-tank on educational policies in Washington DC, described changes in Maryland and other states as "progress in transparency" demographic differences in the student population too strongly. "It is difficult for rich schools to succeed badly and for poor schools to succeed," he said. "It's a problem." .

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