State writing test reset, will begin tomorrow Snow last week delayed the two scheduled days

January 16, 1996|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,SUN STAFF

State education officials have rescheduled the Maryland Writing Test for tomorrow in all counties that opened schools today, said Steven Ferrara, state director of student assessment.

Students across the state were supposed to take the two-part writing test last Tuesday and Wednesday. The test is given as early as seventh grade, but everyone has to take it by ninth grade and must pass it to graduate.

Although most students have been out of school for a week and a day, Mr. Ferrara said he didn't expect the long break to affect student performance significantly.

"It seems possible there might be some kids who have trouble focusing," he said. "But writing is a skill that is developed over a long period. It's not something that erodes quickly."

The test is in two parts: tomorrow, students will be asked to write a narrative, such as describing something that happened to them. On Thursday, they will be asked to explain something, such as writing a letter to a newspaper about a problem, or telling someone how to do something. Those who fail can take the test again in the summer, or next January.

This isn't the first year snow has scrambled the test schedule -- just the first time it had to be rescheduled statewide. The policy always had been to let counties that called off school make up the test the second day back.

This is my 11th season, and this is the first time we've had so much snow it has affected the whole state," Mr. Ferrara said.

He said the state is anxious to give the test soon to meet deadlines for scoring by a Durham, N.C., firm, and to have the information available by spring, when local school systems expect it.

Mr. Ferrara said any schools that don't open today are to give the test on their second day back.

"The reason is they need a day to organize the testing program and the materials," he said. "Also, they feel it makes good sense to give the students and faculty a chance to settle in."

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