Derek Dixon learned algebra last school year by filling out worksheets. This year, he must figure out his chemistry homework by surfing the Internet.
A 10th-grader at Randallstown High School, Dixon said his education is marked these days by a lack of textbooks for homework, teachers who can't quiet noisy classmates, classwork that is uninteresting and crowded hallways where fights are common.
Dixon was among a group of students from Randallstown High School and Milford Mill Academy who sat down recently to discuss the factors that they believe conspire against their academic achievement. The two schools were among the worst performers in Baltimore County on recent assessment tests, finishing in the bottom third statewide.
In interviews, the students described schools where fights take place weekly in crowded hallways and where teachers get so frustrated with disruptive students that...