New performance grading system unveiled for Maryland schools

Posted at 4:04 AM, Dec 04, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-04 17:07:54-05

A new Maryland Report Card system debuts today.

The accountability system rates each school's performance in several categories and is based on a point system.

You can search an entire county or a specific school to see data on things like attendance rate, graduation rate, proficiency in math and English, quality of the school's environment, etc.

"This is, I think, the most information presented on public education in the state of Maryland ever," President of the Maryland State Board of Education, Justin Hartings, said.

The system has been in the works for 3 years, a requirement from the federal Every Student Succeeds Act. 

Each school will be given a star rating of 1-5, depending on the percentage of total points it received. There will also be a percentile rank so parents can see how their child's school performed compared to other schools. State education officials say this new accountability system will help them to better identify low-performing schools and get them the resources needed to improve their scores.

“While we are pleased that our school system, overall, compared favorably with others in the state,” Interim Superintendent Verletta White said, “we are fully engaged in elevating the performance of all schools – through our budget process, staffing, curriculum development, support services, professional development, and community partnerships."

Nearly 90% of the county's schools got 3 or more stars, compared to Anne Arundel County's 75% and Baltimore city's 40%.

“These new report cards are one snapshot of what’s going on in our schools,” said Dr. Sonja Brookins Santelises, City Schools’ CEO. “They reflect data mostly from last year—data that we’ve already begun using ourselves to identify what’s working in our schools and where we need improvement.”

Baltimore City had the most 1-star and 2-star ratings, compared to every other Maryland county. Teacher and Maryland State Education Association President Cheryl Bost hopes people look beyond the stars, at the data. 

"We want them to look and not just say, 'Oh it's this many stars,' and that's their judgment," Bost said. "We have never supported the star rating because it's not simplistic when you are trying to education students from Pre-k through 12th."

Bost says the data missing is also important. In the coming years, the report cards will also include results from a student and faculty survey on the climate in schools. 

"Parents, teachers, everyone will eventually be able to fill out and tell what the culture is like in their building. Whether their students feel safe; whether they feel they are getting the supplies and resources they need," Bost said. "Students may be attending a school and even get a 3 or a 4 but maybe if they felt safer or if there was lower class sizes and they had more attention with their teachers and could build better relationships, that would make them succeed even better and that information will only come out through that survey."
Hartings says while this is the end of 3 years of hard work, he hopes it's really just the beginning. 

"There's not a single school in the state that got every point they could get which means every school has things they could do better on and I think every community should be having conversations starting tomorrow about what they can do to provide better services for their students," Hartings said. 

You can find your school's report card by clicking here.