Those tests will show whether students have learned the basics of four subjects: Social studies, English, math and science. The standardized test will be given to all students in Maryland, and will replace functional tests that aren't challenging enough, Grasmick said.
Grasmick said a survey of colleges and businesses showed they wanted to be able to compare the performance of one student in one part of the state against a student in another part of the state. "We want to make sure that an `A' means the same thing from school to school," she said. Standardized tests are the answer, she said.
Grasmick said teachers statewide have been given a list by the state of what basics they should be teaching in each of the four subject areas. She said teachers are encouraged to expand on that basic curriculum.
The new test will be used in 1999 for the first time, but passing it won't become a prerequisite for graduation until 2004, Grasmick said.
In a question and answer period that followed Grasmick's talk, students asked her about the Washington County Board of Education's decision to deny high school diplomas to seniors who don't finish their 75 hours of state-mandated Student Service Learning requirement.
As it stands now, 319 Washington County students have yet to complete the 75 hours, and some haven't even begun, according to the board.
Grasmick said Washington County is considering giving seniors who fall short of the 75 hours a last chance to get their diplomas.
Grasmick said kids still wouldn't be able to graduate with their classmates, but would get their diplomas after they work off their hours during summer school.
The solution is up to individual county school boards, Grasmick said. The state has taken no position on the extension proposal.
Grasmick said the state board thinks some students didn't start on their Student Service Learning hours because "they thought it was going to go away. Well, it isn't going to go away."