Stanford Reviewers Criticize Scoring, Educational Objectives of MSPAP Tests
Hyslop, Margie, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
Maryland Education officials are slated to release tomorrow results of the tests used to measure how well each public school in the state is preparing students for learning and work.
But this year's announcements - which school administrators, teachers and parents await anxiously - come on the heels of a closely held report that criticizes not just the Maryland School Performance Assessment Program (MSPAP) tests but the educational objectives that underlie them.
"It's hard to know what the results mean because the subject matter [the Maryland Department of Education says it's trying to test] is so vague," said Williamson Evers, a research fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, who led a panel that reviewed the tests.
Standards Maryland has set as guidelines for its science curriculum, for example, say students should demonstrate knowledge of unifying themes and also exhibit that they know facts such as "matter has electrical properties."
Education department spokesman Ron Peiffer said new, more specific standards have been developed and will be incorporated in MSPAP tests given in 2002.
The five-member panel, which Mr. Evers said looked at all MSPAP questions used over the past five years, criticized other aspects of the tests. But terms under which Maryland education officials allowed the panel to review the test - as part of a $300,000 study paid for by the independent Abell Foundation of Baltimore - prohibit them from mentioning details that could reveal specifics of the mostly open-ended test "tasks" for which students must write responses.
Reviewers said the range of content tested was generally too narrow. …