State Superintendent of Schools Nancy Grasmick visited Highland Elementary School today to honor the school for its selection as a Maryland Blue Ribbon School. She was joined by Montgomery County Board of Education President Shirley Brandman, Superintendent Jerry D. Weast and other local, state, and federal officials to recognize the remarkable academic achievements of students at the school. The school also is a candidate for a National Blue Ribbon School award.
In the 2007–2008 school year, Highland’s scores on the Maryland School Assessment (MSA) significantly exceeded the standards and rivaled those of schools that do not face the challenges associated with highly diverse, high poverty, and high mobility student populations. Of particular note is the percentage of students scoring at the advanced level on the MSA. For example, from the 2006–2007 to 2007–2008 school year, there was a 56.1 increase in the percentage of Grade 5 students scoring at the advanced level in reading, from 23.5 percent to 79.6 percent, with double-digit increases in five of six areas measured by the assessment.
In order to achieve these results, the school administration at Highland has focused on setting high standards for all students and developing an active program of parent engagement. A schedule was developed that allows teachers to team together in classrooms. Limited English proficient and special education students have complete access to mainstream curriculum. Instructional leadership positions, including a reading specialist, reading coach, and math content coach, are used judiciously to ensure that the needs of individual students are being met.
Highland Elementary School currently has a poverty rate of approximately 82 percent, one of the highest in Montgomery County Public Schools. Approximately 60 percent of Highland students participate in the English for Speakers of Other Languages program.
Highland Elementary is one of 12 schools to receive the National Excellence in Urban Education Award this year from the National Center for Urban School Transformation (NCUST). Winning schools meet and exceed all federal No Child Left Behind requirements for student performance and have other indicators of academic and nonacademic success. The schools all serve low-income student populations, are located in an urban area, and do not use any selective admissions criteria.