In the Zone, we all know the differences from the rest of the County, but we need to spell out the differences that are relevant to the Superintendent’s decision to force a change to our scheduling model.
The fact that we’re so spread out that some of our kids spend an hour on the bus in each direction means they have less time for homework, but that doesn’t mean a hill of beans to the schedule.
Hereford High School gets singular results, due to a “culture of deliberate excellence,” to echo the Team BCPS mission. Our 2012 graduation rate was over 95%, compared to 87% for the County, and 86% for the State. 73% of Hereford graduates head for four-year colleges. That’s almost 50% higher than the County’s 49% and State’s 50%! Hereford works.
At the last Board meeting, Dr. Dance reported to the Board that there were three factors that influenced the announced change to master scheduling direction.
The first one of those was student mobility, primarily within the County. According to school administration, Hereford’s transfer student population hovers around one percent – it’s a very stable population.
The next factor was student choice. Hereford’s unique four period, semester schedule maximizes student choice. It allows them to fit more course advancement into a single year, if they wish. That gives them an incredible advantage in the competition for quality colleges, and is also reflected in performance. Hereford students’ composite SAT scores are over 200 points higher than the average for the County and State. Hereford students’ AP test scores – the mean grade per exam, and percent of exams with scores in the 3 to 5 range – are significantly higher than the County or State. Hereford works.
The last factor Dr. Dance mentioned was an opportunity to better allocate staff. I would assert that the unique master schedule at Hereford does just that. A change, even to a four period A/B schedule, would double the number of students that a teacher has at any given time. That doubles the teachers’ grading load, and dilutes their attention by spreading it out to a full school year. Our teachers are superstars. We support their current scheduling framework, and applaud their dedication. They’re a large part of the reason that Hereford works.
Note: Performance numbers for this post are from http://mdreportcard.org/. This stuff’s too good to make up!