How Schools Get It Right

Experienced teachers, supplemental programs are two key elements to helping students thrive
Liz Bowie
Baltimore Sun
July 22, 2007
Tucked amid a block of rowhouses around the corner from Camden Yards is an elementary school with a statistical profile that often spells academic trouble: 76 percent of the students are poor, and 95 percent are minorities.
But George Washington Elementary has more academic whizzes than most of the schools in Howard, Anne Arundel, Carroll and Baltimore counties.
These students don’t just pass the Maryland School Assessment – they ace it. About 46.2 percent of George Washington students are scoring at the advanced level, representing nearly half of the school’s 94 percent pass rate.
An analysis by The Sun of 2007 MSA scores shows that most schools with a large percentage of high achievers on the test are in the suburban counties, often neighborhoods of middle- and upper-middle-class families. But a few schools in poorer neighborhoods, such as George Washington, have beaten the odds.
Statewide, Howard County had the highest percentage of students with advanced scores, and Montgomery and Worcester counties weren’t far behind.
Of the top five elementary schools, two are in Montgomery County, two in Anne Arundel and one in Baltimore County.
Whether they are in wealthy or poor neighborhoods, schools with lots of high-scoring students share certain characteristics. They have experienced teachers who stay for years, and they offer extracurricular activities after school. Sometimes, they have many students in gifted-and-talented classes working with advanced material.