What will stars in the new school rat­ing sys­tem re­ally mean?

Baltimore Sun - - NEWS -

Each school will be as­signed a rat­ing, from a min­i­mum of one star to a max­i­mum of five stars. in its first year, about 60% of schools re­ceived a four or five stars. Only 35 schools earned just one star.

The fac­tors that go into the rat­ing in­clude aca­demic achieve­ment on the Part­ner­ship for As­sess­ment of Readi­ness for Col­lege and Ca­reers (the PARCC tests), the chronic ab­sen­teeism rate, the grad­u­a­tion per­cent­age, the ex­is­tence of a well-rounded cur­ricu­lum and the achieve­ment of English lan­guage learn­ers.

For the first time this year, the rat­ing sys­tem will in­clude a school sur­vey given to stu­dents and ed­u­ca­tors ask­ing ques­tions about be­hav­ior, aca­demic sup­port, and re­la­tion­ships be­tween teach­ers and stu­dents. Ele­men­tary and mid­dle school sci­ence test results also will be added.

The rat­ing sys­tem of­fers an easy way for the pub­lic to com­pare schools in dif­fer­ent school districts around the state, such as an ele­men­tary school in Mont­gomery County to an ele­men­tary school in Howard County.

The new star rat­ings were re­quired by a fed­eral law called the Ev­ery Stu­dent Suc­ceeds Act or ESSA, which re­placed the more puni­tive No Child Left Be­hind Act. Most states now have a rat­ing sys­tem sim­i­lar to Mary­land’s, us­ing stars or A-through-F grades.

The low­est-per­form­ing schools — the bot­tom 5% — will be la­beled in need of “com­pre­hen­sive sup­port.” School ad­min­is­tra­tors will work with the state to de­velop im­prove­ment plans, and some fed­eral funds will be avail­able to help make changes at those schools.

The pub­lic will be able to see more data on each school than ever be­fore. The data will be more eas­ily or­ga­nized on one page that al­lows the pub­lic to see not only how many stars a school has earned, but other data that went into the rat­ing, in­clud­ing the num­ber of points the school earned for each fac­tor and its per­centile rank­ing.

Even­tu­ally, the state plans to make it pos­si­ble for the pub­lic to com­pare schools with sim­i­lar de­mo­graph­ics.

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