County students test scores rise

December 09, 1998

Grading Wash. Co. SchoolsBy BRENDAN KIRBY / Staff Writer

The percentage of 11th-graders in Washington County who passed all four of the Maryland Functional Tests increased slightly in 1998.

But state educators said the significance of the tests has waned as most schools have closed in on 100 percent.

"They're very easy. Schools have gotten up around the standards," said state Assistant Superintendent Ron Peiffer.

The functionals test reading, math, writing and citizenship skills in ninth and 11th grades. In 1998, 97.7 percent of Washington County students passed all of the tests, up from 96.8 percent the year before.

The percentage of county ninth-graders who passed the reading and math tests was excellent by state standards; the percentage passing the writing and citizenship tests was satisfactory.


The results were included in a packet of information about the Washington County school system released on Tuesday.

Peiffer said the functionals, however, were designed to measure the minimum a student should have to graduate from high school.

State educators are designing a new high school test that eventually will replace the functionals, Peiffer said.

Already, the old test is being phased out. This year, for instance, ninth-graders will not take the citizenship test, Peiffer said.

Peiffer said state officials hope to replace the functions by the time the class of 2005 enters high school.

Theresa Flak, Washington County assistant superintendent for instruction, said the new high school tests will be more rigorous, along the lines of the Maryland State Performance Assessment Program tests used in elementary and middle school.

"I guess the functional tests were tests of minimal competency," she said.

Other information contained in the report includes:

- 27.3 percent of Washington County seniors last year committed to attend a four-year college.

- 26.5 percent of county seniors went to a two-year college.

- The dropout rate in Washington County, 5.23 percent in 1998, failed to meet the state's satisfactory level of 3 percent. The county's dropout rate increased for the second straight year.

- The county's attendance rate met the state's criteria for excellent for grades 1-6 (96 percent) and satisfactory for grades 7-12 (95 percent).

related story: Washington County students improve scores on MSPAP exams

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