Cumberland Times-News

November 13, 2013

Achievement data of county students shows ups and downs

Attendance, graduation rates improve, surpassing targets

Greg Larry
Cumberland Times-News

— CUMBERLAND — Data presented at the Allegany County Board of Education’s regular meeting Tuesday detailing achievement that tracks students progress in both the academic and behavioral categories showed many improvements but some areas had experienced drops.

Marsha Miller, the local accountability coordinator for the BOE, presented the annual data.

“It’s that time of year,” said Miller.

The school system is phasing in a new curriculum known as the Common Core by the spring of 2015; however, it is still administering the Maryland State Assesments for elementary and middle school students while high school students receive the High School Assessments.

A presentation of trend data for all students in math indicated a decrease in proficiency from 2012.

“They are seeing declines at the state level as well,” said Miller.

Allegany County students scored higher than the state average.

In 2012, all students in Allegany County ranked 84.5 percent proficient in math while students statewide scored 82.4. The math scores declined for Allegany County students to 80.5 percent proficiency in 2013 and 79.2 percent statewide.

The Maryland Department of Education established targets for schools to meet known as Annual Measurable Objectives.

Students in Allegany County and statewide fell short of their targets in 2013. Allegany County math proficiency was expected to reach 85.5 percent proficiency while the statewide target was 83.9 percent.

Students showed a small increase in reading proficiency over 2012 but fell short of their target goal. Statewide, student reading proficiency fell.

Both graduation and attendance rates have surpassed the target levels with senior students in Allegany County having an 89.84 percent graduation rate as compared to a target rate of 88.08 percent.

Attendance ranked at 94.2 percent, surpassing the target level of 93.9 percent.

The state established a rating system for schools in 2012 called the School Progress Index. The SPI measures schools in terms of achievement, growth, gap reduction, and college and career readiness.

The SPI is a weighted measurement that establishes 1.00 as the optimum level of achievement on a scale between 0.00 and 2.00. Depending on a school’s SPI score, it is placed into one of five categories known as strands.

The best score falls into strand 1. The poorest scores can fall as low as strand 5. The lower the strand the more that school must be scheduled for intensive and sustained support for improvement.

Allegany County has two strand 1 schools: Mountain Ridge High School and Parkside Elementary.

Strand 2 has six schools: Fort Hill High, Frost Elementary, Career Center, Bel Air Elementary, Mount Savage Elementary and Cash Valley Elementary.

Strand 3 has five schools: Flintstone Elementary, Washington Middle School, West Side Elementary, Georges Creek Elementary and Allegany High.

Strand 4 includes Northeast Elementary, Mount Savage Middle School and Cresaptown Elementary.

Strand 5 schools include Westmar Middle School, John Humbird Elementary, Braddock Middle School, South Penn Elementary, Westernport Elementary and Beall Elementary.

SPI scores for Allegany County Public Schools in total have middle schools scoring the best at 0.908 with elementary schools having an SPI of 0.863 and high schools 0.864.

It was also announced that referrals for poor behavior by students have declined.

Kim Green, chief academic officer, presented data that shows the fall in disciplinary action.

“When students are engaged, there are fewer disciplinary problems taking place,” said Green.

Washington Middle School saw a decrease in referrals for behavior from 1,013 in 2012 to 819 in 2013. Westmar Middle School had a drop in referrals from 265 to 253.

Green said the reasons for the decrease in bad behavior were higher levels of engagement, enhanced activities, fewer transitions with the block schedule and implementing rewards for positive behavior.

“The block schedule has led to less unstructured time in the hallways, which is where problems often occur,” said Green.

Greg Larry can be contacted at glarry@times-news.com