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Educationally speaking, Montgomery and Prince George’s counties are a world apart. But when it comes to hurdling Maryland’s ever-rising bar for academic achievement, the two school systems have one thing in common: They tripped up this year.

Both counties failed to meet Maryland’s standards for elementary, middle and high school students this year, according to state testing data. It is a warning shot for Montgomery, which will be designated as a “system in improvement” if it fails again next year, an ugly label for a county that markets itself as one of the best large school systems in the United States. And it sets Prince George’s educators back two years in their quest to escape the state’s “corrective action” watch list.

Meanwhile, the Baltimore school system, long considered the worst in Maryland, earned its way off the watch list after showing two consecutive years of “adequate yearly progress,” as it is called in education circles. That leaves Prince George’s as the state’s only system in corrective action, a blow to local leaders who had hoped the county would be able to shake the label this year.

“It’s disappointing that we’re not where we expected to be,” said Prince George’s school board member Linda Thomas (District 4). “I do understand that parents are going to be rather upset, and of course with the start of the school year things have not been so rosy and we really have to show our parents that we are about business.”

Montgomery officials were calmer, given that they won’t face sanctions unless they turn in a similar performance next year. The county fell short because its elementary, middle and high school special education students failed to meet benchmarks; three other categories of middle school students also failed to meet targets.

Read more here.