Improved proficiency on the Maryland School Assessment (MSA) for specific target groups of students -- especially among elementary schools with the highest level of poverty -- propelled the Montgomery County Public Schools to its best performance in meeting the Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) requirements under the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), with 90 percent of all schools meeting the requirement so far this year (compared to 75 percent last year).
The only area in which there was consistent underperformance in the schools that did not make AYP involved students with disabilities. All other subgroups of students -- African American, Hispanic, Asian American, white, students with limited English proficiency, and students impacted by poverty -- achieved the AYP requirements, except in very limited instances, predominantly involving special or alternative education programs.
The greatest achievements were made among elementary schools, in which 95 percent of schools met the AYP requirements (compared to 90 percent last year). The most significant achievements were made by Title I schools identified for improvement and the target of substantial interventions and instructional reforms.
Three Title I schools -- Broad Acres, Burnt Mills, and Summit Hall elementary schools -- achieved AYP for the second consecutive year and will exit the state's school improvement list. Six other Title I schools -- Gaithersburg, Harmony Hills, Kemp Mill, Rosemont, Weller Road, and Wheaton Woods elementary schools -- achieved AYP and maintained their school improvement status for another year. Should they repeat the performance again next year, the schools also would exit from the school improvement list.
"The continued improved performance of the Title I schools -- all with the highest level of poverty among the school system' s elementary schools -- underscores the ongoing success of the school improvement efforts in Montgomery County,¨ said Dr. Jerry D. Weast, superintendent of schools in a report to the Board of Education today.
The improved performance of elementary school students has been well documented this year, with the Grade 2 achievements on the Comprehensive Tests of Basic Skills (CTBS) and Grade 3 and Grade 5 achievements on the MSA. The school improvement efforts have been gaining momentum each year since 2000, with curriculum enhancements, expansion of full-day kindergarten, reduced-class sizes, and extensive teacher training.
Program improvements are continuing in the intermediate elementary school grades. This summer, for example, extensive training is being conducted for nearly 3,500 teachers in English language arts in Grades 3-5 and in special education and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) in Grades 1-2.
Dr. Weast noted that while only one area (special education) is the category in which AYP was not achieved most often, ¡§it is nonetheless critical that every effort be made to ensure that all students benefit from appropriate interventions and the instructional reforms being implemented in our school system.¨
Overall Attainment of AYP for 2004
Ninety percent of schools fulfilled the AYP requirements -- compared to just 75 percent last year. This qualified the school system to be designated as having met the AYP requirements this year for the first time since the implementation of the new state assessments and accountability program in 2003.
* African American and Hispanic students met the AYP requirements in all schools, except Mark Twain and Alternative Programs. White students achieved AYP in all schools, except Alternative Programs. Asian American students achieved AYP in all schools.
* Students participating in the Free and Reduced-price Meals System (FARMS) achieved AYP in all schools, except Mark Twain and Alternative Programs.
* Students with Limited English Proficiency (LEP) achieved AYP in all schools, except Sherwood High School.
* Special education students did not achieve AYP in 19 schools.
Improved Achievement among Elementary Schools
Altogether, all but six of the school system's 125 elementary schools (95 percent) met all of the AYP requirements, compared to 90 percent last year. Each of the six elementary schools that did not meet the AYP requirements missed only one objective among special education students (five schools for reading proficiency and one in mathematics proficiency). The greatest gains were made among all but one of the 10 Title I schools that were previously identified for improvement.
The six elementary schools that did not meet AYP missed that designation only in special education for 2004. This included three schools that met AYP objectives last year but not this year, and these schools have been placed on the alert status. Two other elementary schools moved into the first year for school improvement status because they did not meet the AYP requirements in either 2003 or 2004. One Title I school (Highland) moved into the requirement for more stringent corrective action because it was already in school improvement status for two years and did not meet AYP requirements for 2004.
Improvement among Secondary and Alternative Schools
All but nine of the 37 middle schools (76 percent) met all of the current measures for AYP, compared to 69 percent last year. In addition, all but three of the 23 high schools (87 percent) met the current measures for AYP, compared to 50 percent last year. For middle schools, the only AYP area not met at this time was among special education students (eight schools for reading and one school for reading and math).
Among the high schools, two schools did not meet the requirement in special education and one school did not meet the requirement for students with limited English proficiency. However, the state still has data pending regarding other AYP measures (geometry, graduation rate, and attendance, which also apply to elementary schools).
Six of the system's 60 secondary schools were placed on alert status for having met AYP last year but not this year. In each case, except one, the area not met was in special education.
Eight secondary or alternative schools were placed in the first year for the school improvement category for not having met the AYP requirements in either 2003 or 2004. Except for the alternative schools, the only category missed this year was in special education.
Regional Institute for Children and Adolescents (RICA), Carl Sandburg Center, Longview School, and Stephen Knolls School all achieved AYP for the second consecutive year.
The superintendent's report is available as a PDF file at the link below. The second link is to the state's web site featuring the school assessment and AYP data.