|VOL. 3, NO.3
School Reform Where It Counts:
Successful Schools, Successful School Systems
1997 Maryland School Performance Report (Continued)
Calvert County Public Schools
Calvert County educators believe they have broken through the barrier between
satisfactory and excellent performance using a three-pronged approach that can benefit
classroom teachers. These key components include:
- Staff development.
- Direct application of MSPAP data to strengthening curriculum and instruction.
- Implementation of MSPAP principles and practices in all grades K-8.
"We knew where we wanted to wind up," says accountability director Kathryn
Alvestad. "We didn't know how to get there. We concluded that students wouldn't be
successful unless we stopped looking at MSPAP as an add-on and made the expectations part
of what we do. Our task was to help teachers see where MSPAP and everything it stands for
fit into their everyday teaching."
Calvert's teacher specialists help boost scores by being a classroom teacher's best
friend, coaching colleagues in how to teach students in a manner that gives them the
greatest chance at life-long academic success _ skills which mirror those measured by
To that end, school-based administrators worked closely with teachers and content
supervisors to integrate MSPAP concepts throughout the curriculum, including making
writing across all content areas a standard practice.
Southern Middle School, Anne Arundel County
Middle School Principal Deborah Montgomery attributes Southern's significantly improved
performance on MSPAP to specific changes in instruction and staff development initiatives.
Working in teams that include all subject areas, teachers identify students' strengths and
weaknesses and develop specific ways to help students improve their reading and writing
skills, part of a school-wide emphasis on reading and writing in all content areas.
The school also uses the State's learning goals as the basis for its curriculum,
providing daily instruction that encourages students to think critically and to
demonstrate the skills and knowledge they have gained. The "heart and soul" of
the school is continuous staff development in which teachers are trained in instructional
strategies, use those strategies with their students, provide coaching to one another,
practice strategies repeatedly, and provide constant follow-up to school improvement
Loch Lynn and Red House Elementary Schools, Garrett County
Mrs. Lindsay Stanton serves as principal of both Loch Lynn and Red House Elementary
Schools, which will be consolidated into Yough Glades Elementary School in January 1998.
Both schools are Title I School Wide Projects, with slightly over 50 percent of their
students eligible for free and reduced price meals. Loch Lynn has gained 26.8 percentage
points on MSPAP since 1993, while Red House has gained 17.4, giving the schools virtually
identical MSPAP composite scores (51 and 50.9, respectively).
School improvement efforts have centered on reading and writing. Students in grades 2-5
assemble literacy portfolios that reflect reading and writing for different purposes. In
Pre-K through grade 1, teachers keep logs of reading and writing activities to ensure the
younger students receive instruction similar to that of the older students. In math,
students are taught the problem-solving skills necessary to solve word problems, and
instruction in all content areas is tied to the Dimensions of Learning framework.
Germantown Elementary School, Montgomery County
Elementary is 62 years old and is known as "the original little red schoolhouse of
Germantown." It serves 400 students, grades K-5, including children with multiple
disabilities. Its MSPAP scores have risen steadily over the years, from 37.9 percent of
students scoring at the satisfactory level in 1993 to 51.2 percent in 1997.
The school-wide focus has been on writing and language skills in all areas of
instruction. Students start each day with language and math drills which they write in
journals and then share out loud. Writing skills are also expanded at the computer
keyboard, as students are taught to access, analyze, apply, and communicate information on
the computer in all areas of the curriculum.
Germantown prides itself on a balanced reading program which includes phonics in the
primary grades, along with "chunking" skills. A reading teacher and two trained
assistants work daily in small groups to help students who are having difficulties.
Problem-solving skills have been a major focus in math instruction, and students are
"invited" to join after-school math clubs which provide extra help.
Havre de Grace Elementary School, Harford County
Havre de Grace Elementary School is home to a diverse population, with approximately 60
percent of its students qualifying for free and reduced price meals. With the ever-growing
belief that all children can learn, the school has seen a 21.9 percentage point rise in
its MSPAP scores since testing began. Havre de Grace gives these tips to other schools
looking to succeed:
- Base your school improvement plans on data, essential learning outcomes, and quarterly
milestones to measure student progress
- Conduct ongoing staff development.
- Provide teacher accountability for monitoring student progress.
- Train instructional assistants to better serve the needs of students.
- Encourage a positive attitude in staff toward necessary educational reform.
Web of Success Schools
"Web of Success," a recent Department of Education study examining the common
attributes of 15 high- performing schools, substantiates the fact that MSPAP improvement
is both widespread and substantive, reaching into thousands of Maryland classrooms to
improve learning every day. The report reveals that high-quality instruction, high
expectations, visionary leadership, and focused professional development are at the core
of good student performance. Look for more information on "Web" schools in
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