County Students Do Better Than State Average On Test

March 29, 1992|By Donna E. Boller | Donna E. Boller,Staff writer

Howard County third-, fifth- and eighth-graders generally outscored their counterparts statewide on new reading, writing, math, and language-usage test results released Thursday.

State and area school officials downplayed both low initial scores and comparisons with otherdistricts. The results should be used as a guide for the future rather than a score card, they said.

"We're expecting a lot from the children, but I think it's a reasonable expectation. This is where we want to be," assessment specialist Leslie Walker-Bartnick told the county school board at Thursday's meeting.

Although 60 percent of the county students had scores in the bottom two levels of the test, their record was still better thanthe statewide average of 75 percent. Eight percent of the Howard students and 5 percent of all Maryland students scored in the top two levels. About one-third of the Howard students scored in the middle level, as compared with 22 percent statewide.

The tests, given for the first time last spring, are based on problems to be solved rather than multiple-choice questions or memorized responses. They are designed to show how well students can apply what they have learned in class.

In one example, students are given a hypothetical project to raise azaleas. They must test the soil for acidity levels, read a chartto determine the required soil acidity, decide how to improve the soil, calculate the cost of the plants and design an azalea bed.

"We're trying to get to active learners, students who can learn on theirown," Walker-Bartnick said.

Because the state provides test results on a school-by-school basis but not for individual students, the Education Department's assessment staff is designing individual progress records that will show how well each student has mastered the fiveproficiency levels on the test.

Board Chairwoman Deborah D. Kendig reported that she heard strong opposition from teachers to what they saw as one more set of tests.

"I have yet to be in a (school) building where the building community has bought into this," Kendig said. "It's all negative: 'Take this away, we don't want to do this.' "

Joan M. Palmer, associate superintendent for curriculum and supervision, replied that the school system needs videotapes to give teachers a visual understanding of the tests. The videotapes would show teachers using the tests as part of their regular classroom instruction,she said.

Superintendent Michael E. Hickey said the new test willbe more helpful in showing what students need instructionally than the standardized California Achievement Tests. The CATs were scrapped in 1990.

PROFICIENCY TEST SCORES

The following tables show statewide and Howard County scores on Maryland's new school proficiency tests. The tests are designed to show how well students can apply what they've learned in school. Level 1 is the highest level of performance under new state standards, while Level 5 is considered unacceptably low. Most of the 160,000 third-, fifth- and eighth-graders who took the test last May scored at the two lowest levels. The columns show thepercentage of students who scored at each level.

Maryland

.. .. .. .Level 1.. Level 2.. Level 3.. Level 4.. Level 5

Reading

Grade 3.. ..0.2%.. .. .2.1%.. ..25.0%.. ..34.9%.. ..37.8%

Grade 5....0.6%.. .. .3.1%.. ..24.4%.. ..31.7%.. ..40.1%

Grade 8.. ..1.2%.. .. .4.0%.. ..22.4%.. ..33.3%.. ..39.2%

Writing

Grade 3.. ..0.9%.. .. .4.5%.. ..20.0%.. ..32.5%.. ..42.1%

Grade 5.. ..1.2%.. .. .4.9%.. ..18.1%.. ..35.5%.. ..40.3%

Grade 8.. ..0.0%.. .. .9.5%.. ..14.6%.. ..36.9%.. ..39.0%

Language usage

Grade 3.. ..0.9%.. .. .4.6%.. ..21.9%.. ..31.9%.. ..40.7%

Grade 5.. ..0.9%.. .. .4.3%.. ..19.8%.. ..33.6%.. ..41.4%

Grade 8.. ..2.3%.. .. .3.9%.. ..21.3%.. ..36.2%.. ..36.4%

Math

Grade 3.. ..0.2%.. .. .3.6%.. ..25.9%.. ..31.3%.. ..38.9%

Grade 5.. ..0.4%.. .. .4.1%.. ..24.2%.. ..30.8%.. ..40.5%

Grade 8.. ..0.5%.. .. .4.6%.. ..26.0%.. ..29.1%.. ..39.8%

Howard

.. .. .. .Level 1.. Level 2.. Level 3.. Level 4.. Level 5

Reading

Grade 3.. ..0.2%.. .. .4.0%.. ..37.3%.. ..36.0%.. ..22.5%

Grade 5.. ..0.6%.. .. .4.4%.. ..36.1%.. ..34.6%.. ..24.3%

Grade 8.. ..1.0%.. .. .6.2%.. ..31.3%.. ..38.1%.. ..23.4%

Writing

Grade 3.. ..2.1%.. .. .7.9%.. ..29.8%.. ..33.7%.. ..26.5%

Grade 5.. ..1.4%.. .. .8.2%.. ..24.3%.. ..39.1%.. ..27.1%

Grade 8.. ..0.0%.. .. 13.5%.. ..20.4%.. ..38.7%.. ..27.4%

Language usage

Grade 3.. ..1.4%.. .. .8.2%.. ..31.1%.. ..31.9%.. ..27.4%

Grade5.. ..1.0%.. .. .6.7%.. ..29.2%.. ..35.7%.. ..27.4%

Grade 8.. ..3.3%.. .. .6.1%.. ..28.1%.. ..39.7%.. ..22.8%

Math

Grade 3.. ..0.4%.. .. .7.5%.. ..39.4%.. ..31.6%.. ..21.1%

Grade 5.. ..0.9%.. ...7.7%.. ..38.6%.. ..32.1%.. ..20.6%

Grade 8.. ..0.8%.. .. .9.5%....43.1%.. ..27.6%.. ..19.1%

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