Watkins Mill scores 3 out of 5 stars on MSDE report card


Courtesy of the Maryland State Department of Education

The Maryland State Department of Education put out report cards for all Maryland schools. Watkins Mill earned a total of three out of five stars, which staff members do not feel is a fair representation of the student population's needs.

Jubilee Robinson, Associate Editor

On December 4, the Maryland State Department of Education released a “report card” for every school in Maryland. This report uses a variety of standards to rate each school on a point system, which translates to a five-star rating system per school.

Watkins Mill High School scored three out of five stars with a total point value of 43.5/90. The highest scoring category was based on whether or not students graduate on time and WMHS scored 87 percent of the points possible in that category. The lowest scoring category is attendance, an issue that Watkins Mill has been addressing for years.

“I am okay with three stars,” principal Carol Goddard said. “We are already looking at our chronic absenteeism, we are already looking at graduation rates, we are working with credit recovery. There is room for improvement–we will improve–but we have already identified those areas.”

“A report card is just a snapshot of what we are doing, that grade may not always reflect the true work that you have put in,” staff development teacher Kerrin Torres-Meriwether said. “[We] don’t put a lot of weight into [this report]. It’s just another data source for us as we continue to improve the work we are doing.”

Though the report strives to show what schools need to work on, some argue that it is unfair toward poorer communities, and actually prevents schools from being able to progress. “Putting schools with high FARMS, ESOL, and SpEd in the same scale as schools in areas like Potomac, Bethesda, and Chevy Chase serves only to dishearten already disenfranchised communities,” science teacher Laura Davis Vaughan said.

“Community members can only do so much to turn a school around without a well-funded booster club and parents who aren’t working multiple jobs to stay afloat,” Davis Vaughan added.

“I think the state is not considering the types of students that we are working with, such as students who come from families with low income, students who have other responsibilities, or illnesses,” Torres-Meriwether added. “Unfortunately [parents] look at these ratings to determine whether they want to move into a certain area or not.”

Watkins Mill staff encourages the community to take into account what the school has to offer that the rating may not reflect. “Over half of our students have been [or are in] ESOL. We have students on a certificate program, where they complete their courses but they may not earn a diploma. That counts against us,” Torres-Merriwether said. “We have a lot of services and resources to help our students, but the state is not taking that into consideration.”

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