WASHINGTON – The Maryland public school system received two A’s, two C’s and two D’s in a “report card” released Thursday by Education Week.
The report card was part of the national newspaper’s special supplement, which rated the nation’s school systems. The 240-page guide was funded by Pew Charitable Trust in Philadelphia and The Joyce Foundation in Chicago. Grades were based on how schools measured up during the 1995-’96 school year.
Maryland, North Carolina, New Jersey and New York received A’s for how they measure student performance. Maryland was called a “national leader” for its ground-breaking Maryland School Performance Assessment Program.
Put in place in 1991, the performance program is a battery of tests given each spring to all third, fifth and eighth graders. Statistics gathered from the tests allow schools to gauge and improve educational programs, said Sue Buswell, executive director of the Maryland Association of Boards of Education.
“It’s very nice to know where you want to go,” she said.
Other states have sought advice on implementing similar programs, said Ron Peiffer, assistant state superintendent for school and community outreach.
“Other states are obviously seeing the wisdom” of the testing program, Buswell said.
The study gave Maryland schools a D-plus for school climate, but ratings in that category were average to poor in most states. No state received an A, only four received B’s, 19 got C’s and 27 brought home D’s. The criteria for climate included school safety, organization and student-teacher ratio.
Maryland received a C-minus in quality of teaching, which gauged how well teachers are prepared and trained, how many have degrees in the subjects they teach, and how many teachers are licensed.
Three grades were given for funding:
Maryland received a C-plus for adequacy of funding, or how much money is spent in the classroom.
It received a D-minus for funding allocation, which looks at how money is spent.
And finally, Maryland received an A for equity of funding, which looks at how well money is distributed between poor and rich districts. Peiffer said Education Week “tried to do a conscientious job.” But, he added, “There are an awful lot of numbers out there that aren’t measurable.” -30-