Pyle Middle School Named MD Blue Ribbon School

November 2, 2005
Thomas W. Pyle Middle School in Bethesda has been named one of six Maryland No Child Left Behind/Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence for 2005-2006 by the Maryland State Department of Education.

Pyle will now go on to compete in the U.S. Department of Education No Child Left Behind- Blue Ribbon Schools Program.

Four of the award recipients, including Pyle, were selected because they scored in the top 10 percent of all Maryland middle schools on the Maryland School Assessment (MSA) in mathematics, reading, or related language arts areas for at least three years.

“I am very pleased that Pyle has been recognized as one of the top-performing schools in the state,” said Board of Education President Patricia B. O'Neill. “It is a reflection of the hard work and commitment on the part of parents, students, and staff, and the long tradition of commitment to excellence in teaching and learning.”

“We have a staff that I'm really proud of,” Principal Michael Zarchin said. “It's nice they are recognized for what they do day in and day out, and for the extra support they provide.”

During the 2004-2005 school year, 91.1 percent of students were proficient on the mathematics section of the MSA, and 95.7 percent were proficient on the reading section. Math proficiency rates increased 5 percent over the previous year, and reading proficiency rates increased 3.4 percent.

Most subgroups at Pyle have shown improvement on the MSA over the past several years. Particularly dramatic is the increase in African American students' proficiency rate in math, which went from 30 percent proficient in 2003 to 57 percent in 2004 to almost 66 percent in 2005. Another strong upward trend was the increase in limited English proficient students' reading scores on the MSA. In 2003, only about 42 percent of this subgroup tested proficient in reading; that number increased to 60 percent in 2004 and almost 79 percent in 2005.

In addition to providing academic support for students, Pyle has about 40 different after-school activities in which students can participate. “This may not directly impact MSA scores, but it has a huge impact on how students do not only in school but in life,” Zarchin said. “We're educating the whole child.”

Other state Blue Ribbon Schools are Clarksville Middle School in Howard County, Severna Park Middle School in Anne Arundel County, Ridgely Middle School in Baltimore County, Northern Middle School in Garrett County, and Bainbridge Elementary School in Cecil County. The Maryland Blue Ribbon Schools will be honored at a March 13 banquet in Annapolis and will be recognized by the Maryland General Assembly.

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