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Majority of county principals want MSPAP posting reforms

March 25, 2001

Majority of county principals want MSPAP posting reforms

By TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

Thirty-four of 40 principals in Washington County public schools either oppose posting Maryland School Performance Assessment Program scores in schools or would like to see changes on the posted data charts, according to a survey by the Board of Education.

The survey was done in response to board concerns that posting the information in schools that scored lower than others would hurt morale among staff and students.

Each school currently posts its own results along with the scores of the other schools in order of performance.

"It's not so much that they don't want to put up their own results, but they don't want to do the comparison," School Board Vice President Bernadette Wagner said at a recent board meeting. "It's setting up a competitive attitude rather than a collaborative (one)."

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Of the 41 surveys sent out, 40 administrators responded. Seventeen said they didn't want the charts posted in the schools, 17 said they wanted revised charts posted and offered suggestions, while six said the board should allow the current method of posting.

Some of the suggestions offered by principals included posting the scores by school in alphabetical order or allowing each school the option of posting the scores. Most of those who offered suggestions said schools should post only their own scores.

School Board member Paul Bailey suggested that schools be compared to schools with similar demographics, which can include schools in other counties.

"It makes more sense than just comparing with the locals," he said.

Schools Superintendent Herman G. Bartlett disapproved of Bailey's suggestion and said it might group students according to their income level.

"There's a philosophical belief that...we should be able to teach children no matter what areas they're coming from," Bartlett said. "I hope we're not denigrating kids to a lower standard just because they're poor. It makes no difference to us in a philosophical way...their heritage, gender or their background."

"We have to be careful that we don't have people stereotyping themselves," said School Board President J. Herbert Hardin.

School Board member Doris Nipps said she didn't see anything wrong with posting the results the way the school system currently does.

"I have no problem with posting the results," she said. "Schools always compare themselves with other schools...and I think they should."

She suggested that the issue be sent back to the principals to develop a standard on the best way to deal with the results.

Some school administrators at the state and local level have said posting the scores holds schools accountable for how they perform on the tests. While Washington County public schools are not required to post the results, it is common practice throughout the state.

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