Rise in SAT scores qualifies as `significant'Frederick...


November 07, 1999

Rise in SAT scores qualifies as `significant'

Frederick Guill, in a Sept. 12 letter to the editor ("SAT scores not as good as some say"), raised questions about SAT performance in Anne Arundel County Public Schools. Mr. Guill questioned the "significance" of the 6-point gain in verbal scores and the "non-significance" of the 1-point decline in math scores. Further, he questioned the gradual improvement of SAT scores since 1991. In fact, scores had been improving since before 1991; but the SAT was recentered in 1991 and comparisons to earlier data are difficult.

The term "significant" gain or improvement and a "non-significant" loss or gain in scores have specifically meant that the gains or loses are beyond chance.

In particular, such a gain or loss could only occur by chance 5 or fewer times in 100 times. Thus, for the 6-point gain, a gain of that magnitude could only happen by chance 5 times in 100; 95 times in 100 times that a 6-point gain occurs, that gain is a true change beyond random statistical errors.

On the other hand, a loss or gain of 1 point would happen 95 times in 100 just by random statistical chance. These terms are used because in all scientific measurement, whether in physics or education, measurements have errors. One needs to know when a measurement exceeds what might be expected from just chance, fluctuations caused by measurement error.

Similarly, the long period of growth in scores reflects a trend that is very supportive of a change in scores that over time reflect more than chance.

It is important to realize that the mathematical determination of error is made not by the Anne Arundel County Public Schools but by the Educational Testing Services and the calculations are sent to the school system with the scores.

The press release which was used by the newspaper in writing the article was correct and the system release was correct. If Mr. Guill has interest in the growth in scores for the SAT and error in measurement, or if others do, please do not hesitate to contact me.

I served as chairperson, vice chairperson and member of the Joint Research and Advisory Committee for the College Board and Educational Testing Service for 10 years. In addition, I sat on the national SAT panel. As a former mathematical physicist and specialist in testing, I hope that I can explain the many misunderstandings evidenced in the letter.

Thomas W. Rhoades, Annapolis

The writer is director of program planning for the Anne Arundel County Public Schools.

ICC proposal truly is `Dumb Growth'

I applaud the Dan Rodricks' column "ICC plan is example of Dumb Growth" (Oct. 25). The argument that we need to connect the Interstate 270 high-tech corridor to other parts of the local area with a low-tech asphalt roadway is a cover for imposing on society an unnecessary development project that will foster follow-on development along the new road. Such a road would also promote continued sprawl development by facilitating more bedroom communities further from established job sites.

When the people who have to pay the brunt of the immediate and long-term costs of such development cry out for a stop to such projects, the timeworn response from those standing to profit from the development is that the area is not pro-business, etc. The average citizen can see the irrational logic of more roads leading to more development leading to more roads. Only the land developers and their subsidized politicians see benefits.

People elect officials to lead, hopefully with new ideas in addressing important problems. The idea of building more roads to alleviate congestion is outdated shortsighted.

We need leaders who are willing to point out how our current lifestyles can be modified to promote long-term social benefits, not officials who continue to promote old ideas.

Greed, ignorance and apathy create the problems we face. Although the Intercounty Connector supporters like to paint the route as an act of progress and social goodwill, greed is a greater motivation.

If citizens are ignorant of the true impacts of such a route on their environment or are apathetic toward it, the route may eventually happen. Then in about 10 years, we will be debating the merits of ICC 2.

David Buie, Glen Burnie

Support Arundel

High sports boosters

There have been many capital improvements and other athletic equipment purchases at Arundel High School which have come from members of the community. The Arundel Senior High School Boosters Club is an integral part of this group of community volunteers. In addition, the Boosters Club provides a scholarship every year to a female and male student who excel both in the classroom and on the field.

These many volunteers work hard to make sure students at Arundel have the equipment and facilities necessary to participate in the various sports. Some of these volunteers no longer have children at the high school, but enjoy working toward the goals set by the Booster Club.

There are many capital improvements being considered at the school. These include a paved sidewalk behind the football bleachers, replacing the concrete steps and gateway to the football stadium, restroom facilities, setup of electrical scoreboards, and running water to the concession stands. These projects cannot be performed without help from more members of the community.

Let's make Arundel Senior High School Boosters Club strong so that our students have the equipment they need, and facilities which we can be proud of.

Linda Kostic, Crofton

The writer is with the Arundel Senior High School Boosters Club.

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