- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 6, 2006

TOWSON, Md. (AP) — Three Maryland counties ranked among the most successful in the country at narrowing the achievement gap between black and white male students, according to a study.

Some specialists argued however, that the report — which compared 2004 graduation rates — says more about the demographics of Baltimore, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties than the efforts of the school systems.

Black boys in Baltimore County had an 80 percent graduation rate in 2004, compared with 81 percent for white boys, according to the report by the Schott Foundation, based in Cambridge, Mass.

Montgomery and Prince George’s counties had graduation rates slightly lower than Baltimore County’s, according to the study, which focused on school districts with more than 10,000 black male students.

Together, the three counties enroll the nation’s third-largest population of black male students. In 2004, the study found, the graduation rate of these students was nearly identical to that of white boys nationwide.

“The Baltimore County school district is really what I call our benchmark for the whole country on this issue,” researcher Michael Holzman, who conducted the study, told the Baltimore Sun.

“The three districts together seem to indicate some kind of atmosphere about the educators in the belt between Baltimore and Washington, that they’re not going to accept the achievement gaps that are accepted in other places,” Mr. Holzman said.

But Christopher B. Swanson, director of the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center, said the high graduation rates don’t necessarily indicate exemplary schools.

The black populations in those three counties tend to be wealthier than in other areas included in the report, Mr. Swanson said.

Fewer than half the students in Baltimore, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch.

The report compares those counties favorably with urban districts that have high percentages of children living in poverty, according to schoolmatters.com, a Web site that lists education data from across the country.

For students in upper-class and middle-class neighborhoods, graduation is expected, said Robert Balfanz, a research scientist at the Center for Social Organization of Schools at the Johns Hopkins University.

Yet that does not mean all poor children are destined for failure, Mr. Balfanz said. The magnet schools in Baltimore city enroll plenty of successful children who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, he said.

Mr. Balfanz also pointed out, “If you live in a middle-class neighborhood, graduation is the norm, but high achievement isn’t necessarily the norm.”

Despite its high graduation rates, Prince George’s County has several schools singled out for improvement because of their students’ performance on state tests.

The report shows that some minority students have been helped by economic integration, Mr. Balfanz said.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide