Schools post MSPAP gains Even bigger advance prevented by lack of funds, Parham says

December 09, 1998|By Kris Antonelli | Kris Antonelli,SUN STAFF

Even though state test scores inched up this year, Anne Arundel schools Superintendent Carol S. Parham said she was "disheartened" that a lack of money had prevented the school district from vaulting into the same ranks as Howard and Montgomery counties.

Overall, 48.4 percent of the county's third-, fifth- and eighth-graders performed satisfactorily on the Maryland School Performance Assessment Program (MSPAP) tests taken in May. That compared with 47.3 percent last year and 47.1 percent the year before, according to State Department of Education figures released yesterday.

"We are moving ahead," Parham said. "If we had more support, think of what we could do. And when I say more money, I mean money for training materials, resource teachers and new teachers."

Parham said Arundel students could score as high as those in Howard County, where 60.1 percent performed satisfactorily on the test, or those in Montgomery, where 55.2 percent of students scored 70 or better.

"I'm disheartened because of the limited resources that have been imposed on us," Parham said. "There is no reason why we are not where other counties are. We have done an incredible job with what we have, but think of where we could be."

Statewide, Anne Arundel schools ranked ninth on the public school test, behind Howard, Montgomery, Carroll, Calvert, Queen Anne, Baltimore, Harford and St. Mary's counties.

There is little difference between Howard and Anne Arundel counties in per-pupil spending. Each spends around $6,400 per student each year.

Money alone cannot explain test performance. Harford County spends $5,946 per student, but 58.3 percent of students there performed satisfactorily on the test.

"Besides money, we need parent involvement, and teachers need to have high expectations of students," said school board President Carlesa Finney. "The overall test score improvement means to me that the test is doing what it is intended to do: drive curriculum and instruction. So we are improving in reading, writing and problem-solving."

There were no surprises on the list of eight schools at which more than 70 percent of students performed satisfactorily on the test, but state and county educators applauded Van Bokkelen Elementary School in Severn, where 19.1 percent of students performed satisfactorily on the test, up from 13.6 last year.

Three years ago, the state threatened to take over the school on Reece Road when fewer than 9 percent of the students were performing satisfactorily. Parham replaced the principal with Rose M. Tasker, and the school developed an improvement plan that focuses on academic tasks and involving parents.

"What has really made a difference is the new staff and the communication the parents have had with Mrs. Tasker and the teachers," said PTA President William Stansbury. "The children sense that we care about their success."

Scores at West Annapolis Elementary, where the number of students with satisfactory scores improved by 39 percentage points from 1993 through 1997, when 69.5 percent of students performed satisfactorily, fell this year to 66.9 percent.

Principal Joan Briscoe was out of town yesterday and could not be reached for comment.

Mayo Elementary, which holds a national blue ribbon for excellence, was one of eight county schools where more than 70 percent of the students did better than average on the test.

"During the last few years, we have looked at the areas of the test where students just didn't get up to the 70 percent mark," said Principal Victoria Waidner. "We have written goals for those and concentrate on that."

Other schools where students surpassed the 70 percent mark are: Severna Park Middle, Benfield Elementary, Folger McKinsey Elementary, Windsor Farm Elementary, Shipley's Choice Elementary, South Shore Elementaryand Davidsonville Elementary.

Pub Date: 12/09/98

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