PTAs urge state to skip tests this year

Balto. County group wants MSPAP suspended, new exam developed

Reliability of exam questioned

February 02, 2002|By Stephanie Desmon | Stephanie Desmon,SUN STAFF

The Baltimore County Council of PTAs is urging state educators not to administer the 2002 MSPAP test this spring, saying there are too many questions about its reliability as an assessment tool.

Instead, members said in a motion passed at a meeting Thursday night, the state would be better served by moving quickly with its plans to overhaul the Maryland School Performance Assessment Program.

State Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick announced this week she plans to change the method of testing to allow reporting of individual scores for third-, fifth- and eighth-graders, rather than reporting only schoolwide performance. That change would be in keeping with new federal legislation.

"We support suspending administration of the MSPAP for the 2001-2002 school year in grades 3, 5 and 8," reads the group's statement.

"We would much rather see them put their energy, time and money into developing a new test to comply with the federal law," said PTA President Laura Nossel. "It's probably going to be perceived as a drastic step for sure, but we're voicing our opinion about what we feel about this."

Many Baltimore County parents have long opposed MSPAP. Last year, the same group asked the state to get rid of the third-grade test, calling it developmentally inappropriate.

State officials said they won't abandon the current MSPAP test even as they work on an improved version.

"We're going to add yet one more data point for schools," said Ronald A. Peiffer, an assistant state superintendent. "Our interest is in getting more data and not in getting less. You should never narrow down your choices in terms of data."

Michelle Turner, president of the Montgomery County Council of PTAs, said her group will discuss Baltimore County's action next week, although the group hasn't taken a position.

Much of the criticism of MSPAP has originated in Montgomery County.

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