Key Findings

* Academic Achievement: A review of the descriptive data comparing the performance of elementary students in magnet programs with students in comprehensive programs suggests superior performance by magnet students. However, when other factors associated with students' achievement (such as school ability, race, gender, and socio-economic status) are accounted for, the results show that there is no difference in the achievement of students in magnet programs in 20 of the 28 magnet schools (71%) and their counterparts in the comprehensive program.

* Diversity: Seventeen of 28 magnet schools (61%) have met the goals established for racially diverse schools.

* Enacted Practices: Nineteen of 28 magnet schools (68%) implement fully the unique practices and program design features.

Other Recommendations

Establish an accountability structure that mandates the implementation of magnet programs, and ensures consistency in program design and delivery.

Assign administrators to magnet schools who are not only knowledgeable about magnet programs and trained in areas of program focus, but who are fully supportive and committed to the magnet program's success.

Establish full-time magnet coordinator positions in all elementary magnet schools.

Summary of Findings From Magnet Program Report Card, Phase I

I. Communications and Academic Studies (schools: Kettering, Kingsford, Phyllis E. Williams)

* Findings: Enacted Practices

Implementation of unique features are unevenly implemented among the elementary schools. All schools fully implement Television Production, Computer Lab and Art. Public Speaking is included in the T.V. production class. Elementary Spanish is implemented at all schools, but is stronger at Phyllis E. Williams, in that the Spanish curriculum is aligned with that in the classroom. Writing Lab implementation and quality vary across schools. Debate skills are not implemented in any of the elementary schools.

* Findings: Diversity

No information is available about unfilled vacancies for Non-African Americans in the Communications and Academic Studies schools.

* Findings: Value Added Study of Academic Achievement (this study compares magnet schools to non-magnets by holding constant for factors associated with students' achievement, such as school ability, race, gender, and socio-economic status)

The Value Added Study indicates that all Communications and Academic Studies elementary schools fall within the normal range for schools evaluated.

* Draft Recommendations:

Because the schools are not providing diverse learning environments, coupled with low achievement on MSPAP [the Maryland School Performance Assessment Program tests], it could be recommended that the Communications program at the elementary level be eliminated as Magnet Schools. For the most part, magnet students in Communications schools scored lower than non-magnet students on MSPAP. On average, all Communications schools are currently about 90% African American.

However, the value added results indicate the schools fall within the normal level for schools evaluated. It is therefore recommended that they be maintained as magnets and undergo major revisions. The Enacted Practices researcher has recommended that Communications practices be redefined and integrated within the classroom curriculum. Therefore, state of the art communications experiences should be added and integrated with content area courses to provide more meaningful application of communication skills. Additionally, Phyllis E. Williams currently shares features with Communications and Traditional Classical Academies magnet schools. Because of its location within the Communications schools cluster, it should be made a fully implemented Communications magnet, and no longer be considered Traditional Classical Academy.

II. Creative and Performing Arts (school: Thomas G. Pullen)

* Findings: Enacted Practices

All unique features are implemented fully. A combination of the interdisciplinary approach and success in developing talents and skills of its students make Pullen unique.

* Findings: Diversity

Pullen has a history of meeting diversity goals. It has no attendance area. All placements are made from the lottery according to established racial guidelines.

* Findings: Value Added Study

The Value Added Study indicates that Pullen falls within the normal range for schools evaluated.

* Draft Recommendations:

Given the program's overall success both in MSPAP achievement, diversity and demand, it is recommended that the Pullen program be maintained, and be replicated. Historically, the waiting list for Pullen has exceeded 800 students for grades K-5, and over 400 students audition annually for the few openings in the Middle School.

The current program requires materials and equipment for five distinct art forms--dance, visual arts, music, drama and media arts. Given the cost implications for replicating Pullen, perhaps the replication could be modified to include: focus on single arts themes in different locations; focus on specific arts themes in response to interest based on audition waiting list; integrate a single art form with academics, tailoring opportunities for the artistically gifted; expand other existing magnet programs by including the arts.

Pullen is a unique dedicated model in that it is a K-8 model, with extended schedule to allow for all magnet activities. Enrollment is exclusively through the lottery, so diversity is controlled. The K-8 dedicated model is recommended for consideration for other magnet themes.

III. French Immersion (schools: Rogers Heights, Shadyside)

* Findings: Enacted Practices

All unique features are implemented fully at all schools.

* Findings: Diversity

Shadyside (school years 1997-99) had unfilled vacancies for Non-African American students.

* Findings: Value Added Study

The Value Added Study indicates that the French Immersion elementary schools fall within the normal range for schools evaluated.

* Draft Recommendations:

Given the program's overall success both in MSPAP achievement, diversity and demand, it is recommended that the program be maintained and replicated. Consideration should be given to replicating the program in other languages. There has been community interest in Spanish and Japanese immersion programs.

It is recommended that consideration be given to adjusting boundaries for Shadyside, together with enhancing recruitment efforts, to address the need for a more diverse learning environment at Shadyside.

IV. Montessori (schools: Matthew Henson, Flintstone, Doswell E. Brooks)

* Findings: Enacted Practices

Overall, the Montessori program is implemented in all three elementary schools.

Matthew Henson implements the program fully. Flintstone and Doswell Brooks need to provide instructional activities that more fully reflect the Montessori curriculum.

Montessori leadership at all schools except Matthew Henson needs to be strengthened to better support the Montessori program.

* Findings: Diversity

Four of five schools met diversity goals.

Doswell Brooks (school years 1998-99) had unfilled vacancies for Non-African American students.

* Findings: Value Added Study

The Value Added Study indicates that Flintstone and Matthew Henson fall within the normal range for schools evaluated. Doswell Brooks falls within the range of low achieving schools.

* Draft Recommendations:

Given the program's overall success in four out of five schools both in MSPAP achievement and diversity, it is recommended that the program be maintained and expanded. By contrast to the other schools, however, Doswell Brooks has not been successful either in MSPAP achievement or in diversity.

Currently, Doswell Brooks is reconstitution eligible. In trying to be responsive to state requirements, it has become difficult to address needs of both Montessori and the comprehensive program. As an immediate short-term remedy, it is recommended that the Montessori program at Doswell Brooks receive intervention to implement improvement initiatives specific to the Montessori program, with some additions to the Montessori curriculum to address Maryland Learning Outcomes. As a recommendation for the future status, though, it may be advisable to remove the Montessori program from Doswell. This would allow a clearer and better defined focus on support for the improvement of the comprehensive program.

Historically, the Montessori program has had a long waiting list. In response to community interest and based on overall achievement, it is recommended that the program be expanded. Montessori in Prince George's County has developed as a school within a school model. Programmatic conflicts such as scheduling and philosophical differences have made full implementation of the Montessori method problematic. Additionally, the programs are housed in schools with no room for expansion. Therefore, it is recommended that the programs be relocated to accommodate program expansion/enhancements.

A kindergarten-through-eighth grade model would be ideal for supporting the expanded model.

V. Science, Math and Technology (schools: Concord, Fort Washington Forest, John Carroll, Owens Road, Paint Branch, Samuel Ogle)

* Findings: Enacted Practices

Students were observed to be engaged in active learning in all schools. The majority of schools evidenced use of "hands-on" teaching methods and interconnection of curricula and delivered instruction reflective of program objectives. Integration of technology into Math and Science was inadequate in most schools. Instruction reflective of program objectives was not present at John Carroll.

* Findings: Diversity

Owens Road (school year 1998) had unfilled vacancies for Non-African American students.

* Findings: Value Added Study

The Value Added Study indicates that all Science, Math and Technology elementary schools fall within the normal range for schools evaluated, except Concord. Concord falls within the range of low achieving schools.

* Draft Recommendations:

Although the Science, Math and Technology schools have had uneven success in MSPAP achievement and diversity, the findings of the Value Added Study indicate the schools are having a positive impact on student achievement. It is recommended that the program be maintained with major enhancements.

Concord Elementary is the exception. At Concord Elementary School, students scored significantly lower than non-magnets, both overall and in areas of program focus. Enrollment data reflects a lack of diversity, with around 95% African American students. Concord Elementary requires immediate additional support in implementing a variety of needed improvements, including the full implementation of newly revised elementary interdisciplinary curriculum.

The Science, Math and Technology elementary curriculum has been revised and approved by the School Board for implementation in School Year 98-99. It has not been fully implemented at all sites. This newly revised elementary interdisciplinary curriculum must be implemented consistently at all elementary sites. A staff development program to prepare staff to implement the new curriculum will be provided during the 1999-2000 school year. Mandate participation by all teachers and administrators in staff development as it pertains to the delivery of Science, Math and Technology curriculum.

Enacted Practices findings suggest that integration of technology into the math and science is not fully implemented. New hardware and software has been purchased for the 1999-2000 school year to support implementation of an intranet project. This project provides communication among students and teachers regarding science-related activities in the schools, encourages student exploration of Internet resources, and allows sharing of results of science experiments among schools.

VI. Talented and Gifted (TAG) (schools: Capitol Heights, Glenarden Woods, Heather Hills, Henry G. Ferguson, Kenmoor, Longfields, Oakcrest, Valley View)

* Findings: Enacted Practices

Results of adult/student surveys indicate that all unique features are implemented fully in the elementary schools.

* Findings: Diversity

Six of the eight elementary schools have not met diversity goals.

* Findings: Value Added

The Value Added Study indicates that the majority of TAG elementary schools fall within the normal range for schools evaluated. Longfields, Oakcrest and Henry Ferguson fall within the low achieving range.

* Draft Recommendations:

There is marked disparity in both MSPAP achievement and the Value Added Index among TAG schools. The program currently being implemented was developed in the mid-1980s. There have been no major revisions. It is recommended that the curriculum be renewed to be more responsive to current research about needs of academically gifted students. Once the program has been revised, it is recommended that the program should be maintained at existing magnet schools.

It is further recommended that a study be made to determine the appropriateness of expanding to additional or alternative sites. For the past three years, about 200 students have remained on the waiting list.

VII. Traditional/Classical Academy (schools: Beltsville, Tayac, Benjamin D. Foulois, Cooper Lane, Middleton Valley)

* Findings: Enacted Practices

All unique features are being implemented in four of the five elementary schools. Cooper Lane did not implement the Junior Great Books program and had no Latin teacher assigned to deliver the Latin Exploratory instruction.

* Findings: Diversity

Cooper Lane (school year 1999) and Lord Baltimore (school years 1997-99) had unfilled vacancies for Non-African American students.

* Findings: Value Added

The Value Added Study indicates that Beltsville and Benjamin Foulois fall within the normal range for schools evaluated. Middleton Valley, Tayac and Cooper Lane fall within the range of low achieving schools.

* Draft Recommendations:

Four of the five elementary schools are not meeting success on MSPAP overall, or in areas of program focus. Three of the schools fall below non-magnet schools on the value added study. Diversity goals are met overall, except at Cooper Lane. The Enacted Practice Evaluation indicates that the practices are being fully implemented at all elementary schools except Cooper Lane.

Given the lack of academic achievement, even though the practices are implemented, consideration should be given to eliminating the program and replacing it with a new theme. Historically, however, overwhelming numbers of African American students apply for the Traditional/Classical Academy program. Therefore, restructuring the current program theme may be seen as more responsive to the community. If the program is restructured, it is recommended that the features of the program by comprehensively evaluated to determine their effectiveness in promoting academic achievement.

Grading Magnets

An internal analysis of Prince George's County's 28 elementary school magnet programs gives good grades to several but notes the failure of many of the programs in three areas: offering the full magnet program curriculum meeting goals for racial diversity and promoting academic achievement. Following are draft assessments and recommendations for the elementary magnet programs:

Academic achievement

Met goals

YES 71%

NO 29%

Racial diversity

Met goals

YES 61%

NO 39%

Enacted practices

Implemented fully unique practices and program design features

YES 61%

NO 39%

Successful

Should be duplicated:

Creative and performing arts

(Thomas G. Pullen)

French immersion

(Rogers Heights, Shadyside)

Science, math and technology

(Concord, Fort Washington Forest, John Carroll, Owens Road, Paint Branch, Samuel Ogle)

Need Improvement

Mostly successful but specific major improvements must occur before considering these programs for replication or expansion.

Montessori (Doswell E. Brooks, Flintstone, Matthew Henson)

Talented and gifted

(Capitol Heights, Glenarden Woods, Heather Hills, Henry G. Ferguson, Kenmoor, Longfields, Oakcrest, Valley View)

Communications and academic studies (Kettering, Kingsford)

May Be Eliminated or Replaced

Recommended review of the programs, with possibility of elimination or replacement with a new magnet theme by June.

Traditional/classical academies (Benjamin D. Foulois, Cooper Lane, Middleton Valley)

Academic centers

(Beltsville, Phyllis E. Williams)

Schools Targeted for Immediate Intervention

Low achievers in standard curricula, considering their student populations. Must develop plans for improvement and boost test scores by June. May be reorganized or elimi-nated if school fails to meet these goals.

Doswell E. Brooks

Concord

Longfields

Oakcrest

Henry Ferguson

Cooper Lane

Middleton Valley

Tayac

SOURCE: Prince George's County Task Force to Study Magnet Program Issues