BALTIMORE – Twelve low-achievement schools were added Wednesday to a long list of schools that may be taken over by the state if they do not show improvement.
The Maryland State Board of Education added four schools in Prince George’s County, seven schools in Baltimore and one school in Baltimore County to the 102 schools in the state already targeted for state takeover.
The Prince George’s County schools are Gaywood and Longfields elementaries and James Madison and Thomas Johnson middle schools.
The board also placed Westport School in Baltimore under state management.
Fifteen other Prince George’s schools already are on the list in danger of state takeover, or reconstitution.
Leroy Tompkins, Prince George’s associate superintendent for accountability and assessment, supported the board’s decision.
“Prince George’s County is in 100 percent agreement with the premise underlying school reconstitution,” he said.
“Local reconstitution” is a probation period in which schools can work to improve before they are taken over by the state, said Neil Greenberger, Maryland State Department of Education spokesman. Schools are identified in this category primarily based on test scores and attendance. Subjective factors such as school atmosphere can also play a role, he said.
Maryland schools are measured by the School Performance Index, a composite score based on attendance and Maryland School Performance Assessment Program test scores. In 2000, the state average was 67.0 points for elementary schools and 74.7 points for middle schools.
In Prince George’s County, Gaywood scored 23.24 points, Longfields scored 24.68, Johnson received 47.82 points and Madison received 48.32.
The effect of being placed on the list is positive or negative for schools, Tompkins said, and “depends on the way you approach it.”
While it could be viewed negatively that the schools are in need of improvement, he said, it also encourages the county to identify the problems in the schools and work to eliminate them.
The next step for the county is to analyze the problems in-depth, and from there, work to improve the schools on the state timetable, he said.
The county also has been working on preventive measures for schools that are “on the edge” of being possible local reconstitution schools, Tompkins said.
A “MSPAP circle” was formed, in which principals from successful schools coach and share strategies with principals from lower- performance schools.
“All of these schools are now performing above the initial cut- off for low performance,” he said.
The county’s measures have been effective in removing one school from the local reconstitution list. Thomas E. Stone Elementary School was placed on the list in 1999 and removed in November 2000.
Tompkins attributed the school’s improvement to the principal’s leadership in making the most of the school’s resources, through after- school programs and intensive staff training.
Because of Stone’s success, Nancy S. Grasmick, state schools superintendent, said, “I know that it (improvement) can be done.”
Since 1994, when the state started identifying low-achievement schools, only three schools have been taken over. Westport’s addition brings the total to four.
Since Westport School was added to the list, Greenberger said the state will have a final say in how to bring the school’s standards up. But the state will also work together with Carmen Russo, chief executive officer of Baltimore schools, in developing the school’s programs.
The Baltimore schools named to the local reconstitution list are: Bay- Brook, Harlem Park, Thomas G. Hayes and Waverly elementaries and middle schools Charles Caroll of Carrollton, Lombard and West Baltimore. In Baltimore County, Woodlawn Middle School was added.