Most County Students Exceed Md. Average In Performance Tests

March 27, 1992|By Monica Norton | Monica Norton,Staff writer

The majority of county students scored higher than the state averagein the Maryland School Performance Assessment Program.

While taking pains not to emphasize the numbers associated with the MSPAP, school officials said they were pleased with how county students scored on the tests, which measured skills in four areas -- reading, writing,mathematics and language usage.

County schools did "remarkably well" considering they did not have the chance to adjust their curriculums based on test results from spring 1991, acting Superintendent C. Berry Carter II said.

Statewide, the majority of Maryland students tended to score in levels four and five -- the lowest levels -- of the MSPAP. County students generally scored in levels three and four.

The results of the MSPAP testwere released yesterday, as about 350 educators from around the state yesterday gathered at Board of Education headquarters to hear the long-awaited results.

Yet educators downplayed the results, waitingmore than hour into their meeting before releasing any figures.

"You could say we did everything not to report the numbers," AssistantState Superintendent Robert Gabrys said.

About 14,000 students inthe third, fifth and eighth grades took the performance test for thefirst time last May. The test, which cost the state $1.7 million to administer, cost the county an additional $1 million. It is part of the state's attempt to hold local schools accountable for how well they educate students.

School systems have until 2000 to reach state goals that include having 95 percent of students achieving satisfactory levels in basic areas. Science and social studies sections have been added to this year's testing of reading, writing, mathematics and language arts.

The program has come under fire from teachers and many local school officials, who applaud its intentions but decry the lack of money to achieve its goals.

Unlike standardized tests thatrequire students to memorize information, the performance test attempts to mirror real-life situations.

"We know as teachers that the real education of students is not the rote memorization of a plethoraof information to be regurgitated on a multiple-choice test," Maryland State Teachers Association President Jane Stern said.

Thomas J.Paolino, president of the Teachers Association of Anne Arundel County, said even if the state doesn't want to emphasize test scores, theywill be scrutinized.

"No matter what they say or what they do, it's going to come out that the schools are failing," Paolino said. "Noone disagrees with the goals they have set. But to ask us to do thisin the amount of time they given us is unrealistic. To ask us to do this with no money is totally unrealistic."

The state "is living in a dream world," Paolino said. "They have no idea what conditions are like in the classroom. In Anne Arundel County, you have teachers being told they may not have a job next year. And, if they do have a job next year, how many students will they have in their classes?"

Countywide Advisory Committee Chairwoman Anne Young said she also agrees with what the state is trying to do. However, Young said she does not believe teachers have had the training to implement the test.

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