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NEWS
By Joseph Ganem | July 7, 2011
The problem of cheating on standardized tests that was recently uncovered in the Baltimore City Public Schools is apparently another in a long list of testing scandals that have plagued school districts across the country. Some might argue that these episodes provide further proof of sociologist Donald T. Campbell's observation made more than three decades ago. "Campbell's law," as it is known, states that the more a quantitative measure is used for social decision-making, the more it will be subject to corruption pressures that distort the social process it is intended to monitor.
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NEWS
By Erica L. Green, The Baltimore Sun | July 12, 2014
For many students who took the Maryland School Assessments this year, parts of the math sections just didn't add up. Amid the rollout of new curriculums aligned with the more rigorous Common Core standards, pass rates on the Maryland School Assessments plunged, with this year marking the steepest drops in the test's history because of a dive in math scores. There was a good chance students in grades three through eight might not have recognized at least three concepts in which they were being asked to demonstrate mastery.
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NEWS
December 27, 2011
Speaking as a retired independent middle school principal with 32 years of service, it was most disturbing to read The Sun's editorial that appeared to search for satisfactory criteria that would "tie a teacher's pay to performance rather than seniority" ("Baltimore schools' uncharted waters," Dec. 21). In my opinion, there is no such method existing which would truly judge a student's inherent scholastic achievements since a tremendous difference definitely exists between the more able, stable students living in a corresponding environment than the weaker ones living in a less caring and non-attentive surroundings.
NEWS
By Liz Bowie, The Baltimore Sun | June 28, 2014
After years of holding schools accountable for student test scores, the idea of using those scores to evaluate teachers and determine their pay has become the latest battleground in education across the nation. This past school year, Maryland's 60,000 teachers were evaluated for the first time according to a formula that required half of their final rating to be based on how much their students learned. Policymakers and proponents of the new evaluation systems hope that eventually they can be used to get rid of poorly performing teachers and reward the best with higher pay. But teachers unions contend that further emphasis on test scores narrows the focus of learning and that effectiveness in the classroom is more complex than a score.
NEWS
By Liz Bowie and Erica L. Green, The Baltimore Sun | July 23, 2013
Maryland's student test scores declined significantly for the first time in a decade, a drop officials attributed to the beginning of a tumultuous time in public education that will bring widespread changes to what is taught from kindergarten through high school. The drops in test scores for both elementary and middle schools were seen in nearly every school district and were as great in the higher-performing districts of Howard and Montgomery counties as they were in Baltimore City.
NEWS
May 17, 2010
Maryland should be proud of leading the nation with a law that bars schools from automatically giving test scores and student contact information to military recruiters. Students do not need pressure from recruiters for making a career choice that could harm them, perhaps even take their life or cause them to have post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), a condition that can be worse than death. PTSD could cause perpetual depression and/or suicide. There are more life affirming career choices that we should encourage our youth to pursue.
NEWS
By Liz Bowie and Erica L. Green, The Baltimore Sun | July 20, 2010
Maryland students overall showed a lackluster performance on their annual state tests this year, with many large school systems showing no gains in reading and modest increases in math in the elementary grades. State Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick said that some school systems have such a high percentage of students passing the Maryland School Assessment that great leaps are difficult now. "Twenty-one of our counties are at 80 percent, and you are not going to see huge increments of progress," she said.
NEWS
July 15, 2012
The recent school test scores were depressing ("Stuck in place," July 11). I attended school during the Great Depression and into the early 1940s when those who did find jobs were often victims of frequent layoffs. In that environment, children had to be raised in poverty, too. There was no television and a single radio, perhaps an RCA Victor "Victrola," was in the house. Libraries were few and far between. Students walked to school in all kinds of weather or rode a streetcar to distant locations.
BUSINESS
Jamie Smith Hopkins | July 24, 2012
Lots of people buy a home as much for the school district it's in as for the property itself. If you're in that category, here are some rankings right up your alley. 1) Elementary and middle schools in the metro area (city and suburbs) ordered by the share of their students who passed the state's Maryland School Assessment test 2) Those schools ordered by the share of students scoring at the advanced level on the test The Sun's Patrick Maynard put the rankings together.
NEWS
July 30, 2013
Speaking as a retired educator with 35 years of service, I wish to say it was most disheartening to read the education article, "Amid test score drop, Lowery focuses on ushering in reforms" (July 26). In my opinion, the most important ingredients in the hearts of our state school teachers should be satisfaction and the enjoyment of their assignments. However, this can never be realized unless all of them are operating under the same salary structure, which definitely should never be based on the students' standardized tests results, as all of the students are raised in different communities and exposed to varying levels of prosperity.
NEWS
By Liz Bowie, The Baltimore Sun | June 27, 2014
The state's major education players — from school boards to teachers unions and superintendents — signed a pledge Friday to work together to fine-tune a new teacher evaluation system put in place this school year. The action taken at the state school board meeting came moments after a preliminary vote to approve new regulations that would require 20 percent of a teacher's evaluation to be based on annual goals that take test score data into account for the next two years. Teacher evaluations continue to be a delicate issue because some educators have been critical of the use of test scores to evaluate teachers and believe the new system is being pushed through too quickly with a host of other changes.
NEWS
BY KRISHANA DAVIS, kdavis@baltsun.com | June 27, 2014
Over the last six years, enrollment in Advance Placement testing across Harford County Public Schools has increased, but that increase has not necessarily translated into more students passing the exams. Students who pass Advanced Placement exams are afforded by many colleges and universities the option of skipping a comparable college level course, or receiving college credit for the course or both, so AP programs are often regarded as giving college-bound high school students a jump on collegiate academics.
NEWS
By Erica L. Green, The Baltimore Sun | June 9, 2014
The Baltimore Teachers Union has filed a class action grievance against the city school system after the district made last-minute changes to its evaluation system, which knocked teachers down in ratings that are also tied to their ability to earn pay raises. In an email to members, Marietta English, president of the BTU, said the union filed the grievance because of changes the district made to the "cut scores," which affect whether a teacher is rated "highly effective" "effective," "developing" or "ineffective.
HEALTH
By Meredith Cohn and The Baltimore Sun | May 5, 2014
Testing hospital patients on their ability to perform everyday tasks before they are released could go a long way to keeping them from returning to the hospital, new research from Johns Hopkins University suggests. Tasks such as moving from a bed to a chair, eating, using the toilet and communicating are uniformly assessed after patients go to rehabilitation facilities from hospitals, but function isn't always tested in a standardized way before they go. And Hopkins researchers found that low scores on a standardized test of the tasks was a good predictor of hospital readmission.
NEWS
By Liz Bowie, The Baltimore Sun | February 25, 2014
Amid a developing backlash against fast-paced, state-mandated education reforms, Maryland school officials want to delay the use of student test scores to evaluate teachers for three years. Maryland had committed to using test scores in the evaluations for teachers and principals beginning at the end of this school year as part of an agreement the state made several years ago to secure millions in federal grant money. But the state has made the switch to teaching the more rigorous Common Core this year, and the test aligned with those standards is not ready.
NEWS
January 26, 2014
Now that Maryland's Education Week status has had time to sink in across the state ( "We're No. ?," Jan. 9), I hope that the school board will finally realize that we need to look at other factors besides test scores. Our state has been stuck on numbers for too long. It's about time that Maryland is no longer able to fall back on its "No. 1" status because competing for "No. 1" in testing is a 1990s mentality and means nothing today. We need to ask ourselves: Are our children prepared for the future?
NEWS
By Liz Bowie | July 29, 2013
Scores on the Maryland School Assessment aren't just a barometer of whether schools are doing their jobs, they also may affect the kinds of classes students take and whether they can get into a magnet high school. Officials blamed the test score declines on a change in curriculum, saying results were skewed this year because students weren't necessarily taught the material they were tested on. For example, students are no longer being taught pie charts but could still encounter questions about them on the old MSA. “The misalignment of tests and curriculum could have a huge impact on students.
NEWS
December 30, 2013
Edie Manney's thoughtful op-ed on Head Start ( "Head Start helps children and parents," Dec.25) should be mandatory reading for all legislators and think tank gurus. Too many policymakers and social science researchers look at Head Start as only an education program; test scores of four year olds are taken to be the sole criterion of Head Start's effectiveness. Ms. Manney's story shows how Head Start's multiple services - parent involvement and support, health care, nutrition, child development and more - are effective in strengthening families and providing genuine economic opportunities.
NEWS
January 9, 2014
Wednesday's announcement by Education Week magazine that it won't be ranking the nation's state school systems this year means that for the first time since 2009 Maryland won't be able to call itself No.1 in the nation for K-12 education. Don't expect that to deter Maryland politicians from still giving themselves a pat on the back for the stellar reputation of the state's schools, however. It's too tempting an accolade for officeholders to willingly give up, and even if it was simply based on a publication's subjective criteria in the first place.
NEWS
December 30, 2013
Edie Manney's thoughtful op-ed on Head Start ( "Head Start helps children and parents," Dec.25) should be mandatory reading for all legislators and think tank gurus. Too many policymakers and social science researchers look at Head Start as only an education program; test scores of four year olds are taken to be the sole criterion of Head Start's effectiveness. Ms. Manney's story shows how Head Start's multiple services - parent involvement and support, health care, nutrition, child development and more - are effective in strengthening families and providing genuine economic opportunities.
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