Commentary

printed 12/06/2019

A typical response offered by school officials whose Maryland Report Card ratings weren’t as high as last year’s is that scores alone aren’t the only indicator of how well a school is doing.

They say the whole school, as in various intangibles, such as its place in the community, the dedication of its people, and the cultural value of its programs, must be considered to get a clearer picture of its overall performance.

Well, they would say that, wouldn’t they? After all, school officials have to say something to keep parents and taxpayers off their backs.

That’s unfortunate, since all schools face circumstances that are beyond their control, but still affect teaching and test- taking effectiveness. Sometimes, the only course is to do the best you can with what you have and try to explain it later.

That, however, is what makes Worcester County Public Schools’ high performance in the state’s 2019 annual assessments all the more remarkable.

Only Talbot County receives less state funding per pupil than Worcester, and yet this county was the only one in the state to earn four and five stars for each school eligible for this year’s Maryland Report Card.

That means this county, its board of education, its teachers, administrators and staff, the Worcester County Commissioners and, most importantly, its taxpaying property owners did the heavy lifting on its own.

Also to be considered is that Worcester is a rural county — the immediate coastal area notwithstanding — with areas of deep poverty and modest economic growth.

And yet, no county school system anywhere in Maryland can claim a level of commitment to education higher than Worcester’s. None. This county put up its own money and the school system followed through by doing an outstanding job.

It’s true that scores alone don’t tell the whole story: As it happens, Worcester County’s story is even better than many people realize.

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