Students' Skills To Be Tested In Nationwide Comparison

February 23, 1992|By Greg Tasker | Greg Tasker,Staff writer

Some 330 Carroll students will take part in a national test this week to let state educators know what they've learned in reading and math.

Students at four elementary and three middle schools will take the National Assessment of Educational Progress beginning tomorrow, said Judith Backes, supervisor of school performance and assessment.

Fourth-grade students at Mount Airy, Hampstead, Charles Carroll and Carrolltowne elementaries will take reading and math tests. Eighth-graders at North Carroll, Sykesville and West Middle schools will take math exams.

"We were told we were one of the lucky few," Backessaid about Carroll's participation in the statewide testing program."We're glad to do our share."

Linda Baker, a specialist for student reporting for the Maryland State Department of Education, said students taking the tests at 200 schools across Maryland will provide data for comparison with other states.

"We won't compare local jurisdictions or schools," she said, noting that statewide results probably won't be available until 1994.

While those students are taking the test to provide state data, students at about 40 other schools in Maryland will take reading, math and other tests as part of a national sampling. Carroll is not participating in that sampling.

Maryland eighth-grade students from about 100 schools participated in math testing in 1990. The students were "right in the middle of the pack" when compared with other states, Baker said.

Carroll students didn't participate in that sampling, she said.

Mount Airy Elementary Principal Althea Miller said parents of the 60 students who will be taking the tests there Tuesday were notified last week. She said there have been no concerns expressed by parents.

"We were concerned and were asking teachers about this, but they've haven't heard anything,"Miller said.

She said the tests won't disrupt schedules. Math tests will be given during regular math instruction, and reading tests will be given during language arts time.

More testing is around thecorner.

Students in grades three, five and eight will take the Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills in April. Those same students will take the Maryland School Performance Program's criterion-referenced tests in reading, math, language arts and social studies in early May. The latter will be used to provide testing data in the state's annualschools report card, released in November.

Backes said testing isin a transition stage right now. School systems, she said, are moving away from standardized tests to performance-based tests, such as the criterion-referenced exams.

In standardized tests, student performance is judged against predetermined achievement levels. Criterion-referenced tests compare students with others taking the same test.

"We still need the standard tests as a yardstick to how we're doing," she said. "This is a transition time. It's something that's hard for all of us to grapple with."

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