Parham's theory Anne Arundel: With new attitude and more money, MSPAP scores could jump, superintendent says.

December 11, 1998

GOOD, BUT not good enough. That's Superintendent Carol S. Parham's appraisal of Anne Arundel County's recent scores on the Maryland School Performance Assessment Program.

County schools have been steadily improving their scores, but Dr. Parham believes performance could improve markedly if the community more strongly supported its education system.

Dr. Parham believes the schools lack two ingredients: esteem and money. In nearby Montgomery and Howard, high-quality school systems define the counties. Residents value education and support it with their tax dollars. Businesses move into these counties knowing that the education systems produce well-prepared graduates and their employees' children will receive good educations. The results speak for themselves.

If Anne Arundel's attitude toward its schools were to change, Dr. Parham believes MSPAP scores would climb.

Strides at Van Bokkelen Elementary support her argument.

Three years ago, the state threatened to take control of the Severn school because of poor performance. Rose M. Tasker was appointed principal and set high standards for teachers and students. Ms. Tasker also received more money to improve the school.

In each year since, the number of Van Bokkelen students performing satisfactorily on MSPAP has increased by 50 percent. Admittedly, the school's 19 percent level of satisfactory performance is far below the state goal of 70 percent and the county average of 48 percent, but it's a marked improvement from the 9 percent level three years ago.

Can the same dynamic be replicated systemwide? Certainly it is worth a try. If the county is to remain an attractive place to live and to establish businesses, a high-performing school system is essential. Nothing will be lost by testing Dr. Parham's hypothesis.

Pub Date: 12/11/98

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