Schools thrive under imported principals ; BALTIMORE & REGION; [FINAL Edition]
LIZ BOWIEThe SunBaltimore, Md.: Jan 25, 2006. pg. 3.B
  Jump to full text  Full text
 
Translate document into:  
  More Like This - Find similar documents
Author(s): LIZ BOWIE
Section: LOCAL
Publication title: The Sun. Baltimore, Md.: Jan 25, 2006.  pg. 3.B
Source type: Newspaper
ISSN: 19308965
ProQuest document ID: 975568291
Text Word Count 501
Document URL: http://proquest.umi.com/pqdweb?did=975568291&sid=1&Fmt=3&clientId=9198&RQT=309&VName=PQD

Abstract (Document Summary)
The state did just that four years ago, and the experiment has greatly improved Brehms Lane and William Paca elementary schools, where test scores rose significantly, the state school board was told yesterday.

The program began in the 2002-2003 school year, when the state school board decided to hire three principals from Howard and Baltimore counties to take over Brehms Lane and Johnston Square elementary schools and Hamilton Middle School in the city. The next year, they added William Paca Elementary and Northeast Middle School. The principal at Johnston Square dropped out of the program for personal reasons.

In important measures other than test scores, the school has come a long way, according to the evaluation. In an interview after the board meeting, Stephen O. Gibson, the Howard County principal assigned to Hamilton, talked about the changes he saw at the school. He has since returned to Burleigh Manor Middle School, one of the highest-performing middle schools in Howard.

Full Text (501   words)
(Copyright 2006 @ The Baltimore Sun Company)

If principals are the key to making schools better, why not take some exemplary leaders in good suburban schools, offer them $125,000 salaries and see if they can turn around failing Baltimore schools?

The state did just that four years ago, and the experiment has greatly improved Brehms Lane and William Paca elementary schools, where test scores rose significantly, the state school board was told yesterday.

Two middle schools also saw progress, an independent consultant said, but the changes have been more about changing the culture of the school than about test scores.

Calling the Distinguished Principals Program a qualified success, the review by an independent firm said the schools had better teaching, more teamwork among staff and more parental involvement.

The program began in the 2002-2003 school year, when the state school board decided to hire three principals from Howard and Baltimore counties to take over Brehms Lane and Johnston Square elementary schools and Hamilton Middle School in the city. The next year, they added William Paca Elementary and Northeast Middle School. The principal at Johnston Square dropped out of the program for personal reasons.

Even before the evaluation was released yesterday, the General Assembly had decided to expand the program to other school systems around the state next fall.

"It has been an incredibly successful program," state schools Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick said yesterday. She acknowledged, however, that some of the results suggest that reforming an elementary school might be easier than a middle school, where the process can also take longer.

"It may take five years if you have a school in that condition," she said, referring to Hamilton Middle School.

Scores at Brehms Lane took a significant turn for the better. In three years, results for the third-grade state reading test went from a 30 percent pass rate to an 82 percent pass rate. William Paca saw a nearly identical increase.

Northeast Middle School showed some improvement. For instance, 44 percent of eighth-graders passed the state reading test last year, compared with 30 percent three years before. And 26 percent of eighth- graders passed the math test, compared with 13 percent before the new principal arrived. But those pass rates are still far below the state average.

Hamilton Middle School's scores were largely unchanged in reading. In math, the scores improved somewhat, with 18 percent of eighth-graders passing state tests last year, compared with 5 percent two years before.

But in important measures other than test scores, the school has come a long way, according to the evaluation. In an interview after the board meeting, Stephen O. Gibson, the Howard County principal assigned to Hamilton, talked about the changes he saw at the school. He has since returned to Burleigh Manor Middle School, one of the highest-performing middle schools in Howard.

Gibson said he was able to rekindle parent interest and gave the PTA more prominence, including a first-floor office. The school facility was improved with help from the mayor's office and volunteers.

liz.bowie@baltsun.com