Maryland Schools Continue to Meet Rising Achievement Goals

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Steady growth in reading and mathematics scores for the vast majority of Maryland elementary and middle schools has resulted in their meeting federally mandated student performance targets for 2008.

Nearly 84 percent of Maryland elementary and middle schools met the targets, known as Adequate Yearly Progress, according to data being released today by the Maryland State Department of Education. School systems in Calvert, Carroll, Garrett, Saint Mary's, Somerset, Talbot, and Worcester counties had 100 percent oftheir elementary and middle school students making AYP.

Maryland also unveiled Thursday its new labeling system for schools not achieving federal achievement marks to differentiate between schools needing greater support from those with more targeted needs. Maryland was one ofonly six states approved in June by the U.S. Department of Education to implement the new system, called Differentiated Accountability, beginning with the 2008 testing results.

"I am very pleased that this year's strong MSA results have translated into success for the majority of our elementary and middle schools, even as performance goals move up another notch," said State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick. "I am especially encouraged that the new Differentiated Accountability system will better support those schools not achieving their annual federal targets. The dedication, hard work in the classroom, and strong grade-by· grade standards are really paying off across the state, paving the way for a brighter future for all Maryland students."

Statewide, 32 elementary and middle schools, formerly in the State's School Improvement process, have met their annual AyP targets two years in a row and now are able to operate without federally imposed requirements, according to MSDE data. Another 43 could exit in 2009 if they meet AYP targets. In 2007, nineteen schools exited the program.

The federal No Child Left Behind Act requires that states identify schools not achieving AYP for hvo years in a row and place them into a School Improvement status to help them improve student performance. To exit School Improvement, schools must achieve federally approved targets for two consecutive years in all race/ethnicity and special services student groups (such as special education or English language learners).

The new data for elementary and middle schools are contained in infonnation being made available today on the MSDE report card website ( Maryland has a long history of school improvement through accountability and assessment. Achievement in grades three, five and eight has been assessed in Maryland since 1991, while grades four, six, and seven have been included in the accountability program for the past three years. Maryland School Assessment results released earlier this summer showed test scores rising across-the-board. Today's release of school-level AYP data shows parallel improvement in schools across the state.

Under the federal NCLB initiative, schools must show progress in both reading and mathematics across all grade levels and in all race/ethnicity and special services categories-special education, limited English proficient, and economically disadvantaged students. If a school is unable to make progress in all areas, including attendance, for two consecutive years, it is identified for School Improvement status and faces a variety of consequences designed to bring about improvements. In Title r schools, parents may be able to transfer their children out of underperforming schools or take advantage oftutoring services.

Maryland was recently selected by the

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