One Anne Arundel school, Van Bokkelen Elementary in Severn, is among several dozen statewide scheduled to undergo radical staff restructuring because they failed to meet performance goals for six years, state officials announced.
But overall, Anne Arundel elementary and middle schools fared better than last year in their 2005 Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) reports, a rating system required under the federal No Child Left Behind education law. The law calls for schools to meet increasingly higher performance goals each year toward a federal goal of across-the-board academic proficiency by 2013.
"In general, I think we're seeing really strong performances out of our schools," said Superintendent Eric J. Smith at a news conference Monday following the release of the reports. "Each year, the target goes up significantly."
Ten of the 98 elementary and middle schools in Anne Arundel failed to meet performance goals in 2005. Three of them -- Van Bokkelen, Brooklyn Park Middle and Lindale Middle in Linthicum -- had already missed their goals two or more times in previous years. All three campuses sit on a state watch list and will face possible takeover if they do not improve.
High school performance ratings will be released later this summer.
Because of improved scores on the 2005 Maryland School Assessment, two of the 14 Anne Arundel schools that were on the state watch list last year are coming off the list. Both Freetown Elementary in Glen Burnie and Tyler Heights Elementary in Annapolis have met their performance goals for two consecutive years, the criterion for exiting the "Schools in Improvement" watch list.
Among those 14 state-monitored schools, four -- Waugh Chapel Elementary in Odenton, Annapolis Middle, Marley Middle in Glen Burnie and Meade Middle in Fort Meade -- made performance targets this year and will exit the watch list next year if they meet their goals again.
For "schools that have a history of low performance, the turnaround takes a great deal of effort and focused attention," Smith said.
Five schools on the list are high schools, which give exams on a different calendar.
Following the latest round of performance reports, a dozen Anne Arundel schools remain on the state watch list. No new school was placed on the list because of sub-par performance this year.
Of those dozen schools, 10 -- Waugh Chapel Elementary; Annapolis, Marley, Meade and Lindale middle schools; Annapolis, Meade, North County and Old Mill high schools and Glen Burnie Evening High -- are in the School Improvement I category, which signifies two consecutive years of unmet goals. Those schools must write a plan to improve achievement and, if they receive federal Title I money for students in poverty, they must allow students the option of transferring to another school.
One school, Brooklyn Park Middle, is categorized School Improvement II, signifying three years of missed goals.
Van Bokkelen Elementary alone is bound for restructuring. By the start of the next school year, the school system must either replace most or all of the school's staff, hand over control of the campus to a private or charter school operator, allow for a state takeover or arrange some other fundamental change to school governance.
To make adequate progress under No Child Left Behind, a school must meet performance goals on statewide tests for all students and for each of eight "subgroups": five racial groups and students in special education, with limited English proficiency or receiving subsidized meals. By Maryland law, a subgroup may be rated if it includes as few as five students.
Most of the Anne Arundel schools that missed performance goals fell short with just one subgroup, typically special education.
Van Bokkelen Elementary, slated for restructuring, missed performance goals because of a handful of students in special education who drove down scores for that subgroup, Smith said.
Brooklyn Park Middle missed its target for a third year because of low scores from a few minority students, said Jonathan Brice, who oversees assessment in the county.
Smith and Brice said the county would appeal some of the ratings, particularly at Van Bokkelen.
"There's a statistical side to this, which is easy to argue," Smith said. "And there's the human side, which speaks to every child."
Earlier this year, the U.S. Education Department announced that a substantial number of special-education students who struggled with regular statewide exams this year would be eligible to take a modified exam next year. As much as 2 percent of the total student population will qualify for the modified test. One percent of students, those with the most severe handicaps, already take an alternate test.
Schools that missed their AYP targets this year because of special-education performance may be able to win an appeal if they can prove that the students who scored poorly fall into the 2 percent who qualify for a modified exam.
Van Bokkelen "is a school that we feel we were very close on," Brice said. "One or two students."