The Maryland school year is a minimum 180 days long. Schools are open for a ten-month period, from around Labor Day to mid-June. Opening and closing dates vary from county to county. Kindergarten is mandatory. Elementary and middle school students attend school at least 6 hours a day; high school students 6.5 hours a day. The State requires that children, ages 5 to 16, attend school. Students may attend school up to age 21.
For prekindergarten through high school, 805,544 students enrolled in 1,276 public schools and 166,541 students enrolled at 1,113 private schools in fall 1995. Public high schools graduated 41,841 students in 1995. Those intending to continue their education: 83.8% (80.5% in a college or university, 3.3% in a trade or business school); to work: 15.8%; to enter military service: 4.0%.
In 1992, the State set more stringent requirements for graduation from high school. Credits required were increased from 20 to 21. General requirements were replaced with particular courses, or courses with specific content. Fewer credits were reserved for electives (nonrequired courses chosen by students). Students must pass functional tests in reading, writing, mathematics, and citizenship. They also must perform 75 hours of volunteer community service approved by the State.
Maryland students consistently excel on national tests. Some 30,552 Maryland high school seniors took the Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) in 1995. Among the 17 states with the highest student participation rates, Maryland ranked 3rd in the nation in mathematics and tied for 3rd in verbal aptitude. With 64% of high school seniors taking the test, Maryland had the 13th highest participation rate in the nation. On Advanced Placement (AP) exams, 69% of Maryland public school students received scores required for college credit compared with 60.5% nationally. From 1994 to 1995, the number of Advanced Placement exams taken by Maryland public school students increased 22%, compared to 12.5% nationally.
Special Public School Programs. These cover prekindergarten for four-year olds; and career and technology education, including consumer and homemaking classes. Gifted and talented programs also are offered by the State, on a tuition basis, at summer centers for students who qualify academically, meet geographical distribution requirements, and are able to pay the cost.
Special education services for students with disabilities range from aid for part or all of a school day to specialized services for homebound students or those in separate facilities or hospitals. Within the State Department of Education, the Division of Special Education administers both State and federal programs for special education.
July 10, 1998
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