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Letters to the Editor 3/3 Part 1

March 04, 2002

Lose MSPAP and get back to the basics

To the editor:

Saturday, I read the article regarding the Maryland School Performance Assessment Program (MSPAP) scores for third, fifth, and eighth grade students within our county. I must tell you that I was pretty disgusted at the comments made by our so-called educators. Our county school system and the Maryland State Department of Education have it all wrong.

According to the MSDE, MSPAP measures how well schools are teaching students what they need to apply basic skills to solve complex problems. When schools receive their MSPAP scores they can see how well their students can use what they know to solve problems in reading, writing, language usage, mathematics, science and social studies.

They will also know how well students can use what they know to solve problems. MSPAP supposedly enables our educators to assist students to gain the tools they need to attain profitable careers and good wages.

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MSPAP has been in existence for several years and I cannot find how it has improved education, though it has improved students' ability to take a test. Where are the educational benefits?

What is the MSDE going to do to improve education when the state budget is in deficit. I know the answer - nothing. MSPAP is emphasized so much that it places stress on children to do well on this test. Some children worry to the point they become ill. Teachers are indoctrinating students to do well on this test. Of course they do! The MSPAP is a so- called reflection of how well they are teaching.

2) Some schools emphasize the MSPAP so much they actually teach their students how to take the test. Are teachers educators or coaches? Where is the educational value of preparing a child to take a test?

3) Some schools reward students for doing well on the MSPAP. The students receive medals similar to Olympic athletes. How do you think children when they do not receive any medals? Does this mean they do not have the ability to learn?

What kind of emotional effect does this place on a child? Will this child strive to learn or will he or she be embarrassed so much that they stop trying?

What is wrong when scores go down? I thought the purpose of the MSPAP was to create an educational environment to enhance learning.

Are our children actually learning from this process? I say no. Who is at fault? I cannot place blame on our teachers. I place some of the blame on our county's educational administrators and most of it on the MSDE.

I would like to know how much money is allocated for the MSPAP. I recommend taking that allocation and realigning it so our schools can purchase the materials they actually need to educate our children.

Get back to the basics! Stop trying to invent new methods to educate our children. History always repeats itself and we should consider education.

We need to instill in our children solid ethical standards that will enable them to be viable candidates in the job market. It starts with good study habits and a focus on education.

This starts not in the classroom but at home. Recent studies have indicated that home-schooled children are receiving a better education than public or private systems.

Why is this? The parents are involved with the education of their children. I'm not saying that public or private systems aren't effective. But these systems won't be as effective if the parents are not part of the process.

Parents have to partner with teachers and administrators so their children's education can be a major focus in their lives. This is why I believe MSPAP is irrelevant and useless. We need to focus on education more and rely on our teachers to do the job they are intended to do. Test scores do not show effectiveness - team work and partnerships do.

What is the matter with using the existing grades our children receive as a benchmark, or is there bias in that process? MSDE, you have a lot of work ahead of you and you should take heed from a concerned parent. Instead of creating test-takers, you need to create learned individuals who can succeed in today's world.

Jack Harne

Boonsboro




Waynesboro Hospital celebration was a success

To the editor:

The Waynesboro Hospital Auxiliary wishes to thank the community for its support of the annual "Lights of Hope" celebration. Each year the participation increases as loved ones are remembered.

We would like to recognize Rita Brizzee, vice president for operations; and Mark Roth, M.D., chief of the medical staff for their support and kind remarks. The auxiliary truly appreciated the very special music of the season provided by Lee Carson.

Our sincere appreciation goes to The Frick Co., which made a generous donation to sponsor the Star on the top of the tree in memory of Milt Garland. Thanks also Joe Pillis, a Frick Co. representative, who shared his memories of Milt Garland and the impact of Mr. Garland's life here in Waynesboro as well as around the world as Milt traveled.

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