Blame it on the computer
Maryland high schools had a lot of new responsibilities this year involving the entry of student data into computer systems so that High School Assessment pass rates could be calculated.
Not surprisingly, there were mistakes.
At Baltimore School for the Arts, Principal Leslie Shepard was horrified to read in The Sun yesterday that only 67 percent of her seniors have met the HSA requirements. In fact, she says, only one of 80 students has yet to meet the minimum combined passing score. But it turns out that the school did not correctly enter computer codes to indicate that students who transferred from out of state and private schools were exempt from testing. In addition, the pass rate didn't reflect the fact that seniors who took Algebra 1 in middle school had already passed the algebra test before starting high school.
The chart that ran in The Sun did not include Thurgood Marshall High School, Maritime Industries Academy and the Central Career Center at Briscoe because the state had omitted them from its list of city schools showing their pass rates for seniors. It seems that school personnel did not enter computer codes last spring to indicate that their juniors had been promoted to senior year. Consequently, state records incorrectly showed that the schools did not have anyone in the senior classes. Oops.
A murkier issue is a 600-student discrepancy in Baltimore's senior class enrollment. The city's records show the system has 600 more students in the class of 2009 than the state's records do. Part of the problem, again, may be who gets counted as a senior. Officials from MSDE and BCPSS say they'll be comparing databases in the coming days.
When rates are recalculated, we'll report the correct ones.