The six Howard County schools on a list of struggling schools have been removed after making significant gains on state reading and math tests, education officials said Tuesday.
They are Bryant Woods, Guilford, Phelps Luck, Swansfield and Talbott Springs elementary schools and Cradlerock School. However, Homewood School, and Elkridge Landing and Murray Hill middle schools failed to meet state targets on the tests.
This is the second consecutive year that Homewood, which serves students with behavior problems, fell short of state goals. As a result, it must develop a comprehensive plan to improve student performance as required by Maryland law.
The data are the second wave of results from the Maryland School Assessments in reading and math that third-, fifth- and eighth-graders took this spring, along with reading tests for 10th-graders. Students in fourth, sixth and seventh grades also took the tests, but their scores will not count toward overall school performance because this is the first year they have taken them.
The first round of data, which was released about two weeks ago, provided information on individual student performance but did not evaluate how schools fared. This latest information allows schools to see how close they are to meeting the goals of the federal No Child Left Behind Act.
The law requires all children to be "proficient" in reading and math by 2014. It judges schools in large part on stringent requirements for student performance in subgroups that include racial and ethnic minorities, low-income children, those in special education and students who speak limited English.
The state requires that an increasing percentage of students in each subgroup pass the test each year for a school to be considered successful.
If one subgroup fails, the entire school fails. Elkridge Landing and Murray Hill missed the state target this year only on the reading test among special education students.
Homewood fell short among African American and low-income students taking the reading test. Last year, it also missed the state targets on the reading test, but among black and special education students.
There are no consequences for a school that misses state targets for one year. But schools, such as Homewood, that fail to meet them two years in a row for any subgroup are labeled "in need of improvement."
If the schools have high numbers of poor students, they must provide tutoring services for students and allow them to transfer to better-performing schools.
If the schools continue to do poorly, they could eventually face state takeover.
Swansfield had been "in need of improvement" for one year before its tests scores began rising in 2003.
Principal Earl Slacum said his staff focused on boosting the scores of some of the lowest performing students by adopting strategies such as co-teaching, and even triple-teaching.
When he and an assistant principal learned Tuesday that the school was taken off the state list, they were "ecstatic," he said.