Baltimore schools to begin performance tests next week Original start date was delayed by mayor

November 09, 1996|By SUN STAFF

New citywide public school performance testing -- postponed last month by Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke because of objections by teachers -- will be in full swing next week.

The first of four planned quarterly tests for students in grades two through eight in six subject areas are to be completed and scored by Dec. 2, 2 1/2 weeks later than originally planned.

Exact dates for administering the Baltimore Quarterly Assessments are up to individual schools.

The tests are designed to gauge how well students are prepared for the state's annual performance exams that are used to judge school quality and to make necessary adjustments in teaching, according to city school officials.

"The purpose of the city's tests is to establish checkpoints to gain a more efficient and effective feedback," school system spokeswoman Catherine M. Foster said yesterday.

Schmoke ordered a delay in the start of the tests, originally scheduled to begin Oct. 28, after inadvertently arriving at a protest march organized by the Baltimore Teachers Union, whose members complained to the mayor that they had not had enough training in giving or grading the tests.

The mayor said at the time that the tests were important but had to be done properly.

Yesterday, the teachers union said some schools had just received their test booklets.

"We're still real concerned with the whole process," said union spokeswoman Linda Prudente.

Prudente also raised a larger issue about the tests.

"Down the road, we need to look at whether this time we spend testing is the best use of instructional time," she said.

The city school board president made a similar point.

"Are we testing them to death?" Arnita Hicks McArthur asked at the board's public meeting this week. "We really need to find out how much time is spent on testing, and when are we learning and teaching?"

Clarissa Evans, chief of curriculum, said the new tests would replace other tests administered by the schools and individual teachers.

"We are trying to get away from practice testing that doesn't relate to the curriculum," she said.

Pub Date: 11/09/96

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