Nearly a quarter of Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) received the top ranking in a new state accountability model released Tuesday.
The Maryland State Department of Education unveiled a revamped state report card that measures each individual school’s success based on factors such as chronic absenteeism, graduation rates, access to a well-rounded education and academic achievement on the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) tests.
Six Montgomery County schools were ranked among the top 25 top-performing schools in the state. Those schools are: Bannockburn Elementary in Bethesda, Seven Locks Elementary in Potomac, Wayside Elementary in Potomac, Cold Spring Elementary in Potomac, Westbrook Elementary in Bethesda and Travilah Elementary in North Potomac.
The new report card model assigns each school a star rating ranging from one to a maximum five stars. Each school was also assigned a percentile rank, comparing its performance to all other Maryland schools of the same level.
Most Montgomery County schools received three or more stars from the state, according to data released by the MSDEA on Tuesday. One school received one star, three received two stars, 39 received three stars, 102 were awarded four stars and 50 were awarded five stars.
Seventeen of MCPS’ 25 high schools received at least a four-star rating, and no high schools received fewer than three stars. High schools that received five stars were Poolesville, Walter Johnson in Bethesda, Winston Churchill in Potomac and Thomas S. Wootton in Rockville.
To achieve a five-star ranking, a school must receive more than 74 percent of available points. Four star schools received between 60 percent and 74 percent of available points; three star schools tallied between 45 percent and 59 percent of points; two star schools were awarded between 30 percent and 44 percent of points; and one star schools received less than 30 percent of available points.
Each school earned points in designated categories, with a maximum total of 85 points in elementary school, 83 in middle school and 90 high school.
The Academy of Health Sciences at Prince George’s Community College received the highest rank statewide, earning 96 percent of available points.
The state’s lowest-performing schools – the bottom 5 percent – will be tabbed by the state as needing “comprehensive support.” Those schools’ staff will work with MSDEA to develop improvement plans.
The new school report cards are significantly different from previous versions, due to new regulations instituted by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the federal law that governs kindergarten through 12th-grade education policy. The new system leans away from relying most heavily on test scores as a measurement of school success to a comprehensive look at success indicators, according to MSDEA officials.
MCPS Superintendent Jack Smith, however, said at a November press conference because the state report card must use data that is comparable across all school districts, it doesn’t “paint the whole picture” of a school district’s success.
“While the Report Card does provide important information about our schools, its selected data points must be comparable to other districts and therefore, provides a limited view into the progress of our nearly 163,000 students,” Smith said in a statement released last week. “School improvement is inherently a local responsibility. We know our students best, how they are impacted, who is thriving, and who needs our support.”
To get what Smith believes will be a better picture of student success in Montgomery County schools, MCPS has launched an equity accountability model that “provides a more detailed and focused report of school success,” Smith said, adding the MCPS model places a special emphasis on reducing disparities in student achievement.