Blair only county school to be in "Improvement Year 2"
For the second year in a row, Blair did not meet Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), making it the only school in Montgomery County to have a two-year failure and be marked as "Improvement Code 2." The state released the results – which showed that the school failed by 12 students in the Limited English Proficient subgroup – on Sept. 28.
Last year, when the school failed, MCPS created a committee of Blair staff, parents and county officials – headed by the Blair, Einstein, Northwood, Kennedy clusters Performance Director Eric Davis – to discuss the failure and ensure higher passing rates. According to PTSA President Dave Ottalini, the school will create another group this year. Ottalini also said that because the school is going into its second year of improvement, "we might end up with some additional resources out of the deal."
To meet AYP standards as mandated by the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) act, students of different subgroups – including Free/Reduced Meals, Special Education and Limited English Proficient – must pass state standardized examinations in reading and mathematics. If one subgroup fails in either area, the entire school is considered to have failed.
Last year, the Special Education subgroup failed in the reading section. This year, the Special Education subgroup passed but the Limited English Proficient subgroup did not meet the minimum proficiency rate in reading by less than 12 students, according to the 2007 Maryland Report Card.
Because Blair has failed for the second consecutive year, it has been designated "Improvement Code 2" which, according to the Federal Department of Education means that the district must "continue to provide technical assistance," "continue to make public school choice available" and "make supplemental educational services available."
Four other county high schools – Einstein, Sherwood, Springbrook and Watkins Mill – also failed to meet AYP standards, but have been marked "local attention."
In accordance with NCLB, the minimum rates required to pass each category go up each year, which Ottalini says makes it difficult for schools like Blair to meet AYP. "It's a moving target because every year the goal goes up," he said.
But Ottalini believes that the state's new plan to get rid of the writing portion on standardized tests will help students pass in the future. "Especially with [English as a Second Language] you've got kids with a wide range of abilities," he said. "Some kids don't know three words of English. How are they going to pass the writing?"
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