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State to release MSPAP scores

January 24, 2002

State to release MSPAP scores



By TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

The Maryland State Department of Education will release the 2001 MSPAP scores at noon on Jan. 28, and the state says the results will show some surprising school increases and decreases.

"We had some that dropped a lot and a few that went up a lot that we did not expect," said Ron Peiffer, the state's assistant superintendent of the Community and Outreach Office.

The scores had been held up in a $40,000, six-week study by the National Center for the Improvement of Educational Assessment to figure out what caused the unusual fluctuations or determine whether the results were miscalculated.

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It turns out the results were accurate and that the 2001 scores happened to contain the fluctuations. The scores are usually released at the end of November.

"The data were correct," Peiffer said.

The researchers found that the 2001 results were okay to be released and used by education officials for school accountability and planning, according to a written statement from the state Department of Education.

Peiffer said the state is encouraging local school systems to go over the results and consider the margin of error, so they don't "get excited about a couple of points change."

Washington County school officials say they're not worried about the school system's performance.

"Washington County doesn't need to be worried," Interim Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan said Wednesday.

She said the school system, which ranked sixth in the state in 2000 MSPAP scores, has consistently performed well on the tests.

"I think we will continue to do that," Morgan said.

The MSPAP tests, which are aimed at holding schools accountable for performance, was rated first in the nation for the second year in a row by Education's Week's 2002 Quality Counts report, released earlier this month, according to the written statement from the state.

"Simply by being a Maryland public school system, we're part of a real high-level, high-expectation organization, no matter how we're doing," Linda Fernandez, Washington County's interim executive assistant for curriculum and instruction, said Wednesday.

The MSPAP tests, which stands for Maryland School Performance Assessment Program, are given to the state's third-, fifth- and eighth-graders to measure school performance, not the performance of students.

Students are tested in five subject areas: reading, writing, language usage, mathematics, science and social studies.

All questions are answered in writing and there are no multiple choice questions.

"I think Washington County has done very well so far," Morgan said. "I think it can expect to have a wonderful future. The bottom line is, no, I'm not concerned."

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