Monday, October 4, 2010

Baltimore City Wins National Award

On Thursday, September 30, Baltimore City Schools was announced as the 2010 winner of the Council of Urban Boards of Education Annual Award for Urban School Board Excellence. The award recognizes Baltimore City for the hard work that board members, staff, principals, and teachers have put in to improve student achievement. The award also acknowledges that significant achievement gains have been made, enrollment has been increased, and the city has people rallying around the cause.
I agree that much talk and effort has been focused on closing achievement gaps and increasing student attendance, engagement, and success. I know that from my personal experience at my school, I am surrounded by many talented and effective teachers and faculty members who are deicated to holding students to high standards and closing the achievement gap. People are invested in transforming schools and helping our stdents reach high levels of academic achievement.
In the press release it states that "Baltimore City Public Schools are now thriving." Although I see examples of people committed to making improvements, I do not agree with this statement. When I hear the word "thriving," I think of schools where almost all students are fully invested in their classes and their actions relfect this mindset; I see high test scores and students who have been able to grow academically so that they are on grade level. I hear stories of others' schools, and even in my own school, the situation is not perfect. Fights are still taking place, students are still cutting class, and student are still struggling to meet their full potential and are behind academically. I have only been teaching in Baltimore City for about a year and do not know how conditions were like in the past, so I cannot say that large improvements have not been made. However, I do not think we are where we want to be. I believe that our system can continue to improve and I think that we are starting to move in that direction as Baltimore City employees continue to do great things for their students.

1 comment:

bmore said...

While I agree with Libby about the general feeling inside of the Baltimore City School District - this award does beg the question: what does Baltimore look like from the outside?
The National School Board Association, who chooses the annual recipient of this award citing the following statistics on their website: (
1. African-American test scores have grown by 21 percentage points in reading and 26 percentage points in math during the last three years.
2. Special education students in grades three to eight have improved their reading scores on state tests by nearly 30 percentage points since 2007. English language learners have made even more progress in reading, improving by 39 percentage points.
I find these statistics particularly interesting given how many schools I know that did not meet AYP. In fact, I feel that the schools who don't meet AYP get much more attention than the schools that do.
I love getting to work with the individuals that I do in this school district. Like Libby I see and experience dedicated individuals around me everyday. The real question for Baltimore isn't "are we making progress anymore." Rather, it's become are we making progress fast enough? Are we doing enough for the students we are currently teaching, in order to ensure their success after high school graduation? If we are, wonderful. If not, what more can we do? Passing standardized test scores, as great as they are, might not be enough.