The average SAT score for the Class of 2014 in Prince George’s County was 1197, down 10 points from the year before, according to figures released by county school system officials.
This year’s students in Prince George’s County also fared worse on the SAT test than students nationally, who scored an average of 1497 on the college admission test that has a perfect score of 2400 for critical reading, math and writing.
The county’s scores continue to slide, dropping 77 points in the last two years.
Deputy Schools Superintendent Shawn Joseph said school system officials are trying to determine what factors are causing the decline.
“We’re still investigating the reasons why students performed the way they did this year,” Joseph said. “Our goal is to make sure our students do well on this or any other exam.”
In Maryland, the average overall score fell to 1468, a drop of 15 points. Despite the slide, state officials said they were pleased by greater participation in the exam.
The scores for nearly all racial groups in Prince George’s went down this year with white students and Hispanic students seeing the greatest drop — 37 points and 22 points, respectively. American Indians, who were less than 1 percent of all test takers, were the only group that showed gains. They scored an average of 1076, which was 31 points higher than the year before. >>> Read more Washington Post
As we have stated before, real improvements in a school systems take time and hard work. Miraculous sudden improvements as shown during the previous regime led by Ms. Verjeana Jacobs in student achievement was likely the result of outright fraud or a rigged evaluation system designed to produce desired results.
Successful schools share characteristics such as strong instructional leadership, a clear and focused mission, high expectations for students, a climate conducive to learning, opportunities to learn, regular monitoring of students and classrooms, and positive home-school relations (Levine and Lezotte, 1990). New research also ties collegiality and collaboration to positive school outcomes. Ongoing research into school culture, change, and improvement is finding that success is more likely when teachers are collegial and work collaboratively on improvement activities (Levine and Lezotte, 1990; Fullan and Hargreaves, 1991). When teachers and administrators work together, the level of commitment, energy, and motivation is likely to be higher and change efforts are more easily implemented. Obviously these elements are missing in many schools in Prince George’s County public schools (PGCPS).
Schools with professional collaboration exhibit relationships and behaviors that support quality work and effective instruction, including the following:
- More complex problem-solving and extensive sharing of craft knowledge
- Stronger professional networks to share information
- Greater risk-taking and experimentation (because colleagues offer support and feedback)
- A richer technical language shared by educators in the school that can transmit professional knowledge quickly
- Increased job satisfaction and identification with the school
- More continuous and comprehensive attempts to improve the school, when combined with school-level improvement efforts (see Fullan and Hargreaves, 1991, for an excellent review)
These schools feature helpful, trusting, and open staff relationships (Nias, Southworth, and Yeomans, 1989, in Fullan and Hargreaves, 1991). They also may have “a commitment to valuing people as individuals” and valuing the groups to which individuals belong (Nias, Southworth, and Yeomans, 1989 in Fullan and Hargreaves, 1991). “Within these schools the individual and the group are inherently and simultaneously valued.” (Fullan and Hargreaves, 1991, p.49, emphasis in original)
These settings also foster practices that support success, such as the following:
- Failure, mistakes, and uncertainty in work are not “protected and defended” but are openly shared, discussed, and examined in order to provide support and help.
- “Broad agreement on educational values” exists, but colleagues accept the natural disagreements that foster new dialogue (Nias, Southworth, and Yeomans, 1989, in Fullan and Hargreaves, 1991).
- These schools are “places of hard work, of strong and common commitment, dedication, of collective responsibility, and of a special sense of pride in the institution” (Nias, Southworth, and Yeomans, 1989, in Fullan and Hargreaves, 1991, p. 48).
- Disagreements are openly voiced more frequently and more strongly as purpose and practice are discussed (Fullan and Hargreaves, 1989, p.49).
- The teacher receives respect and consideration as a person (Fullan and Hargreaves, 1991).
- Collaborative schools have more satisfying and more productive work environments (Fullan and Hargreaves, 1991).
- Students show improved achievement (Fullan and Hargreaves, 1991).
In these schools, teachers and others lead and work together:
- “In collaborative cultures, teachers develop the collective confidence to respond to changes critically, selecting and adapting those elements that will aid improvement in their own work context, and rejecting those that will not.” (Fullan and Hargreaves, 1991, p.49)
- Interdependence is valued and fostered (Fullan and Hargreaves, 1991)
- Leadership is dispersed; many teachers are leaders and the principal supports and nurtures teacher leaders (Fullan and Hargreaves, 1991).
Collaboration is not simply a group of congenial, happy teachers. As Fullan and Hargreaves point out (1991), “contentment should not be mistaken for excellence” (p. 47). In collaborative schools, the natural give-and-take of professionals means that conflict, disagreement, and discord will sometimes occur. But, these situations can be worked out for the good of students.
Thus, collaborative schools may be a way to build a professional capacity for change, improvement, and success even in the most difficult urban school District like PGCPS.