Dozens of institutions in the Prince George’s County Public Schools system received high marks on the first Maryland report card that assessed schools statewide from a star system.
Based on a star ranking from one to five, nearly half of the school in Prince George’s received four or five stars. The school system posted on its website more than 80 percent of the schools received no less than a three-star ranking.
The Academy of Health Sciences at Prince George’s Community College in Largo received one of the five-star ratings. The seven-year-old school with nearly 500 students focuses on health studies where students can receive a high school diploma and associate degree.
“This achievement is the culmination of years of an incredible partnership,” AHS principal Kathy Richard Andrews said in a statement Friday, Dec. 7. “It reflects the dedication and hard work of our superb faculty and staff, and most importantly, the commitment of our amazing students and their families to academic excellence.”
Nine schools in the county received five stars such as Glenarden Woods Elementary in Glenarden. According to the talented and gifted school’s report card, it received two perfect scores of 100 percent for its credit and access for a “well-rounded curriculum.” It received a 93 percent for students not chronically absent.
“I am proud of Prince George’s County Public Schools’ continued progress,” interim CEO Monica Goldson said in a statement. “Every student deserves a five-star school and we will do what it takes to help every school get there.”
Several schools posted their excitement about the state’s 2018 report card on social media.
“Our Maryland report card score. Going for that final star next year,” according to a Twitter post Thursday, Dec. 6 by Imagine Foundations at Leeland, a public charter school in Upper Marlboro. The school stood out among 75 that received a four-star rating.
On the opposite end, some schools with a two-star ranking received low marks in attendance and proficiency in math and English Language Arts based on test scores from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) assessment.
The state rolled out the system after two years of planning to present more transparency and accountability based on several factors such as graduation rates, proficiency among English language learners and test scores.
In addition, the state Department of Education organized this star structure to comply with the federal Every Student Succeeds Act with varying assessments in elementary, middle and high school.
The state will release annual rankings that will focus on social studies and a student survey on school climate.
Cheryl Bost, president of Maryland State Education Association, said in an interview the star-system ‘is very simplistic” and relies on data from the PARCC test that will be replaced next school year with another state assessment.
“As a classroom teacher, I know that ratings don’t turn around our schools. It’s educators and parents and the community that does,” said Bost, who became leader of state’s teachers’ union this year. “We don’t want the emphasis on the stars. The true emphasis should be the data beneath in what is happening in each of the local schools.”
The star system essentially breaks down this way: schools receive five stars with at least 75 percent of total points earned, four stars between 60 percent to 74 percent, three stars between 45 percent to 59 percent, at least 30 percent for two stars, and one star for less than 1 percent.
The majority of the 1,400 public schools received rankings in the middle.
However, the site (reportcard.msde.maryland.gov) doesn’t provide details on some specialty schools such as Margaret Brent and Tanglewood regional centers in Prince George’s because they didn’t “meet the minimum requirements for accountability results to be reported.” They are designated for students with physical and mental disabilities.
Officials in neighboring Montgomery County, the state’s largest school system, plan to release more detailed information to focus not only on Black and Latino students, but also poverty status. According to its “Equity Accountability Model,” two reports on graduation rates and limited English proficiency/students with disabilities may be released in February.
Superintendent Jack R. Smith said in a statement the state’s report card helps, but remains limited.
“While the report card does provide important information about our schools, its selected data points must be comparable to other districts and therefore, provide a limited view into the progress of our nearly 163,000 students,” Smith said. “School improvement is inherently a local responsibility. We know our students best, how they are impacted, who is thriving and who needs our support.”