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County's eighth-graders perform well on skills tests

June 05, 2002|by DAN KULIN /Staff Writer

dank@herald-mail.com

Washington County Public Schools eighth-graders averaged 10th- and 11th grade-level scores in math, reading and language on a national test given in May, the school system said Tuesday.

Individual students' scores on the Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills (CTBS) will be sent to parents along with final report cards, which should be received within the next two weeks, Board Public Information Officer Carol Mowen said.

In addition to above average scores compared to other eighth-graders who took the test this year; overall county eighth-graders improved on their own scores from two years ago, according to school system figures.

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School officials said test results improved thanks to more time spent in math and language/reading classes. Math and reading/language arts classes were increased to 90 minutes each in the 1999-2000 school year. Previously, those classes were about an hour long.

Also, teachers have been holding weekly meetings to discuss reading, and new books are being used.

"We can't overemphasize the hard work of the students and teachers," Director of Secondary Education Boyd J. Michael III said.

According to figures released by the school system, the average county eighth-grader posted early 11th-grade scores in math and reading, and a mid-10th grade score in language.

As sixth-graders two years ago, those county students took the sixth-grade version of the CTBS. On that test, the average students had sixth-grade level scores in reading and language and an early seventh-grade level score in math, according to school system figures.

"This is huge. This is really really big for us," Michael said.

"This is way beyond what I expected," Interim Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan said.

"This is something to celebrate," board member Doris Nipps said.

Board member Mary Wilfong said the test results show the Maryland School Performance Assessment Program (MSPAP) "guided us to better teaching."

All of the county eighth-graders, about 1,480 students, took the CTBS on May 1 and 2. County eighth-graders took the CTBS this year instead of the MSPAP.

The eighth-graders could have taken no standardized test this year, but Morgan said she wanted to gauge the students' academic growth since sixth grade.

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