Schools Gain Ground on Tests: But Are Still Unlikely to Meet Goal for 2000

By Ferrechio, Susan | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), December 12, 1997 | Go to article overview

Schools Gain Ground on Tests: But Are Still Unlikely to Meet Goal for 2000


Ferrechio, Susan, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


Maryland schools have shown steady gains on standardized tests since 1995, but the state is still far short of a goal of having 70 percent of students earn a satisfactory score on the tests by the year 2000.

Even the highest-scoring counties in the state would have to show drastic increases over the 1997 test results, released yesterday, in order to reach the goal. Statewide, only 41.8 percent of students are earning satisfactory scores on the tests.

But Maryland schools Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick refused to concede yesterday that the goal of 70 percent that state officials set when they began giving the test in 1993 might be out of reach.

"I'm not going to say any of the systems won't reach it. You can't say that they won't," she said. "And even if they don't, if your goal is to lose 50 pounds and you only lose 30, that goal prodded you to be a lot better off than if there were no goal established."

Mrs. Grasmick preferred to focus on the positive instead, noting that the 1997 results released yesterday showed solid gains across the state, particularly in several schools that previously performed poorly.

But Prince George's County school Superintendent Jerome Clark said the goal set by the state may no longer be realistic. State school officials, he said, "acknowledge the fact that no school system is going to be there . . . they are moving away from the year 2000."

Only 29.2 percent of Prince George's County students performed adequately on the test, the second year in a row that the county has finished next to the bottom in the state. Only Baltimore City did worse, with 13.8 percent of its students earning satisfactory scores.

The Maryland School Performance Assessment Program tests third-, fifth- and eighth-grade students annually in language usage, mathematics, science and social studies.

First administered in 1993, the tests were designed to not only assess student performance, but raise learning standards across the state. That has happened, state school officials said yesterday. …

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