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Schools start putting test scores on web

December 23, 1998|By BRENDAN KIRBY

In past years, Donna Gelwicks spent hours typing information about her children's school and other schools throughout the state into her computer.

When data from the Maryland School Performance Program Report was entered, she could print out graphs comparing Pangborn Elementary School with other schools in the county. There was no easy way to do this by flipping through the pages, Gelwicks said.

On Tuesday that changed.

Now, parents who are interested in their children's schools will not have to do nearly as much work. For the first time, the Maryland Department of Education has posted information about schools' test scores, demographics, attendance rates and more on the World Wide Web.

"The only people who really see a copy of the book are the CAC members and the PTA executive committees," said Gelwicks, who is co-chairwoman of the Northern Middle School Citizens Advisory Committee and has a daughter who goes to Pangborn Elementary School.

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State education officials hope many more people will be able to get information about schools in their communities by accessing the Internet address: www.msp.msde.state.md.us

In the past, if you did not have one of the 20,000 copies of the school report cards, it was difficult to get information.

"It's been very frustrating when people have called," said Assistant State Superintendent Ron Peiffer.

Now anyone with a computer and a link to the Internet can have instant access to millions of pieces of information, presented in words, charts and graphs.

"You can dissect the data in a couple of different ways with fairly good detail," Peiffer said. "We designed it to be very user-friendly."

If Gelwicks was logged on to the Internet on Tuesday, she could have quickly called up a bar graph comparing the composite score of her daughter's elementary school with the county and state average.

She could have seen that third grade reading scores at Pangborn, after slipping more than 12 points in three years, took a sharp turn upward this year.

Gelwicks also could have taken a look at the big picture and viewed the test scores broken down by gender and race.

A separate Web site - www.mdk12.org - contains even more information about schools and the Maryland School Performance Assessment Program. The site, which includes tips for improving test scores, is designed for school improvement teams and teachers, Peiffer said.

Jenny Belliotti, president of the Washington County Council of PTAs, said she does not use the Internet herself but thinks the education sites will be valuable.

"I think it's a good thing," she said. "The more ways you put out information, the better informed the public will be."




New web sites launched

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