February 1, 2019
In early December, the Maryland State Department of Education released the annual report cards for school across Maryland. Atholton High School received five out of five stars, nabbing a 77% school performance, placing Atholton in the 85th percentile.
“I was happy first and foremost that we were a five star… but then as I examined a little further then I got a little nervous because the cutoff for five star is 75 percent and we were seventy seven,” said Atholton principal Mr. Robert Motley.
The scores reflected all aspects of the schools, including academic achievement, graduation rate, progress in achieving English language proficiency, readiness for post-secondary success, and school quality and student success.
Atholton scored highly when it came to the graduation rate and school quality and student success categories. According to the report card, students reportedly leave Atholton, “on track for success after high school,” but happened to fall somewhat short when it came to state test scores.
“Almost 78% of our students are getting a four or five on the Algebra II PARCC,” said Mr. Motley, “But what about the other %? … You’ve got all these kids scoring really high, but then conversely you’ve got all these kids scoring really low and so it brings you out to a 3.3 average, [Atholton’s average score].” The report card gave more points to each school based on how many students scored well on PARCC and other state mandated assessments but also gave a certain amount of points for the average scores on those same state tests. Although those 78% of students who scored high on the tests secured some points for Atholton, the school did come up shorter than others in the averages, receiving 4.9 out of 7.5 points for the Mathematics assessment and 5.1 out of 7.5 points for the English assessment. “We were only at 77 percent and could easily drop and so I need you all to understand, now PARCC really, really counts,” said Mr. Motley.
Additionally, Atholton’s score for Access to Well Rounded Curriculum, although impressive, came out a bit lower than expected. Although the media center and school provide devices to utilize, such as iPads, laptops, and desktops, and countless online resources like the databases that can be accessed from any device in or out of school, Atholton receive 8.1 out of 10 on Access to Well Rounded Curriculum. According to Mr. Motley, even though the score was lower than hoped, scores like Atholton’s were pretty consistent throughout the county in regards to the curriculum.
“I thought we were a little higher than 77 to be honest with you. I think there are some areas we can certainly work to improve upon, … we’ve pinpointed some areas where we could really work on some things,” said Mr. Motley. Attendance throughout the school showed that 13.9% of the school population missed school regularly, at least 18 regular days in the school year, deeming them chronically absent. Mr. Motley added that he and the staff at Atholton are looking to regularly remind parents and students to make sure attendance is regular and to only miss school for necessary situations and not for that ski trip to Colorado.
Athough Atholton High School scored among the top four schools in the county, Atholton did not stack up as highly as Mr. Motley had hoped. “When we had our [principals] meeting that talked about [the report cards], we were grouped with like-schools. We were grouped with Glenelg, River Hill, and Atholton… And of those three, we were the lowest, I think Glenelg was an [85%], and so I know that we’ve done some things that those schools haven’t done and yet they still got those scores,” Motley looks to explore how the higher rated schools in Howard County received their scores and why Atholton did not achieve similar scores.
Both administration and staff are excitedly anticipating how they can make changes and assist in maintaining and improving future report card scores. For now, Atholton administration and staff is celebrating the five star rating.