Most Maryland public schools showed no improvement on a state rating system updated on Thursday for the first time since 2019. Baltimore City and county had the lowest ratings in the region.
The Maryland School Report Card rating system, which awards one star to the lowest performing schools and five stars to the highest performing, is designed to give families a simple guide to the quality of a school. It was first developed in 2017 and first used in 2018 to rank each school in Maryland.
The report card released Thursday measures the 2021-22 school year and how students performed on Maryland Comprehensive Assessment Program tests, access to a well-rounded curriculum, graduation rates, English learner proficiency, attendance, student readiness for high school and survey results that asks about school quality and student success.
These factors determine how many points out of 100 a school receives, and the points determine how many stars a school earns. Schools earning 75 points or greater earn five stars, 60 to 74 points is a four-star rating, 45 to 59 is three stars, 30 to 44 is two stars and anything below is one star.
Most schools, 62.5%, had the same star ratings as 2019, according to the state. Of those that changed, 139 schools gained a star while 336 schools lost a star. There were 1,298 schools that received ratings. Schools like special education centers aren’t rated.
A quarter of Baltimore County schools and three quarters of Baltimore City schools received one or two stars, which is considered below average. The two districts were also the only systems in the region with pass rates lower than the state average on the Maryland Comprehensive Assessment Program, one of the factors that determines the star rating.
Carroll County had no schools below average on the star rating and Howard County only had three. Anne Arundel County had eight schools with two stars or less and Harford County had six. Both Anne Arundel and Howard counties tied with the highest number of schools in the region, 28, that earned five-star ratings.
More schools scored below average last school year than they did in 2019. Each Baltimore-area district, with the exception of Carroll County, had more schools earning one or two stars. The biggest changes were in Baltimore City and County. The county went from 14% of its schools scoring below average in 2019 and to 24% in 2022. The city went from 53% to 75%.
Only one of the city’s 149 rated schools, Baltimore School for the Arts, earned five stars.
The arts school, City Neighbors Hamilton and Bluford Drew Jemison STEM Academy West were the three schools in the district to gain a star. Hamilton went from three stars to four, and Bluford went from one to two stars. In comparison to 2019, 53 city schools lost a star.
District leaders point to chronic absenteeism and the pandemic as reasons for the low scores.
Theresa Jones, chief achievement and accountability officer, said they are disappointed in the results and have already begun some of the work needed to improve.
She added the results weren’t surprising “in light of what we have learned about the impact of the pandemic on our students.”
One challenge they had, Jones notes, is chronic absenteeism. It’s also an issue across the state.
Schools can earn up to 15 points for students who are not chronically absent. It’s worth 15% of the overall grade and the highest weighted metric. City elementary schools earned 1.5 points overall, and there were three points in middle schools and one point in the high schools.
The city’s strongest results came from access to a well-rounded curriculum. For instance, elementary schools earned 9.8 points out of 10 in that category.
But another area for improvement is the English Language Learners category. The metric describes the amount of English learners who are on track to be proficient. City elementary students earned 5.3 points out of 10, middle school students scored 2.1 and high schools received 3.7 points.
Jones said that was an other area where she wasn’t surprised by the results. The city’s immigrant population increased by nearly 14% between 2010 and 2019. Jones said some of those students enter school without a formal education. It takes a lot of work to get them on track academically on top of improving their language proficiency.
“We certainly have work to do, but we’re certainly not shying away from that,” Jones said. “But at the same time, we don’t let these star ratings define who we are as a district.”
The chart has been updated with new data from the Maryland State Department of Education.