Old Testing Days Are OverI am writing on behalf of the...


May 30, 1994

Old Testing Days Are Over

I am writing on behalf of the Public School Superintendents Association of Maryland in response to Robert Moore's letter which appeared May 21.

Our organization is deeply concerned that a specialist for education reform from the Maryland State Teachers Association believes that the Maryland School Performance Assessment Program (MSPP) is a "misguided . . . attempt to use questionable statistical methods to impose state control on local school boards through manipulating the curriculum" and also believes that MSPP is supported only by the state superintendent of schools.

Like the functional tests before them, MSPP's assessments were imperfect in their initial administrations. Like the functional tests today, the MSPP assessments will be widely accepted as accurate benchmarks of student performance in the near future.

Contrary to the innuendoes in Mr. Moore's letter, MSPP assessments correlate with the curricula advocated by independent professional groups like the National Council of the Teachers of Mathematics.

They do not match the curricula of "textbooks from the test's commercial publisher."

MSPP assessments and the reconstitution consequences associated with MSPP assessments are not designed to impose the will of the "educrats at the Maryland State Department of Education."

A careful review of the reconstitution process in Baltimore City underscores the state's conscious effort to set high standards, to measure local schools against those standards and to afford local school systems multiple opportunities to devise their own plans to improve the performance of schools which fall significantly short of those standards.

Finally, and most important, state Superintendent Nancy Grasmick is joined by 24 superintendents and scores of administrators, teachers, parents and community leaders in her support for MSPP and school reform.

We all recognize that schools must reform themselves if we are to meet our challenge to educate all students to a standard that was formerly expected of only our brightest students.

While Mr. Moore's statement that "none of the announced candidates [for governor] is supporting MSPP in its current . . . form" may be accurate, our organization does not believe any candidate will argue against holding all schools accountable for educating all students in Maryland to a higher standard.

The days of Lake Woebegone testing are over in Maryland, and, despite the efforts to undermine the performance tests that show us how far we have to go, high-takes accountability testing and school reform are here to stay at the state and local level.

Wayne F. Gersen


The writer is president of the Public School Superintendents Association of Maryland.

Airborne Calls

A reader's letter April 16 questioned telephone company billing practices for calls that get a busy signal and for calculating the actual time of the call. He was specifically concerned about practices related to use of an AT&T calling card at a pay phone and to the GTE Airfone Service.

GTE Airfone does not charge for calls that get a busy signal or for an unanswered ring. Charges are based on full minute increments on calls that are completed. Thus, a call that is just over a minute is billed at two minutes.

If at any time a customer is dissatisfied with an Airfone call, dialing "O" while in flight will reach a customer service representative, who will be happy to credit the call.

Mary Thrasber

Oak Brook, Ill.

The writer represents GTE Airfone Inc.


I agree with the May 14 editorial that the City Council should proceed cautiously with Willard Hackerman's proposal for a large new Pulaski trash incinerator.

The five-year moratorium on new incinerators gave a needed, reasonable breathing space for calm solid waste planning to occur.

The moratorium still has three years to run. The city's waste planning is nowhere near complete and planning for the region hasn't begun.

At this time, Mr. Hackerman's proposal is neither welcome nor exciting. The moratorium was passed in response to the very same proposal two years ago.

So why have a majority of council members rushed to co-sponsor a bill to prematurely end that moratorium, allow the new Pulaski burner and expansion of BRESCO, too?

Mr. Hackerman is dangling promises of money before the elected officials of a cash-strapped city government. Must we take what we can get, like a cash-poor third world country that accepts hazardous waste from a rich country?

The facility isn't needed for city trash. Nor has a regional need or interest been shown.

Finally, given that dealing with Mr. Hackerman in the past has been a financial disaster for the city, why would any city politician want to have anything to do with him?

Thomas G. Garrison


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