Board of Education reserves judgment on MSPAP

February 18, 2002

Board of Education reserves judgment on MSPAP


While there's movement among some Maryland school boards to put an end to the state-mandated MSPAP accountability test, Washington County Board of Education members say they're not ready to join the battle.


"Washington County, to my knowledge, is not looking at anything like that right now," School Board member Paul Bailey said.

School Board member J. Herbert Hardin said he would have to hear more arguments to do away with the Maryland School Performance Assessment Program before making a decision.

The MSPAP is given every year to third-, fifth- and eighth-graders to evaluate school performance, not the performance of individual students. Students are tested in reading, writing, language arts, mathematics, science and social studies. The test takes a week to complete.

Last week, the Montgomery County Board of Education passed a resolution to abandon the test and questioned the reliability and validity of the 2001 scores. The Montgomery County School Board said it would send copies of the resolution to all school systems throughout the state seeking support.


A day later, the Carroll County Board of Education agreed to send a letter to State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick urging her to stop the tests because of a drop in scores.

Washington County School Board Vice President Bernadette Wagner said Friday she hadn't heard about Montgomery County's resolution, but she was aware of that county's concern about the scores.

She said she wouldn't rule out signing the resolution, but she would first have to hear what Interim Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan and School Board administrators have to say.

The Maryland State Department of Education held up release of the 2001 scores for two months while national testing experts studied the unusual statewide decreases in scores, some of which were significant drops. The experts and Grasmick ruled that the scores were accurate and that they just happened to have fluctuations.

Twenty of the 24 school systems in the state had lower scores on the 2001 MSPAP test. Montgomery County dropped from fourth in the state on the tests in 2000 to eighth this past year. Some Carroll County schools also had unexplained drops in scores.

Washington County's score dropped slightly, but the school system held on to its rank of sixth in the state.

"I have no reason not to support it right now," Bailey said.

Bailey, however, said he has concerns over the length of the test and said the scoring method should be evaluated. Because all questions on the MSPAP test are answered in writing, it's up to the test grader to decide which answers are answered appropriately.

"The biggest concern seems to be that the scoring is subjective," Bailey said.

Staff writer Scott Butki and the Associated Press contributed to this story.

The Herald-Mail Articles