(B Sun, 12/1) MSPAP scores online
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MSPAP scores online
Internet: Parents have a powerful new tool to find and compare
data on Maryland schools, and to hold educators accountable.
By Mike Bowler; Sun Staff
AT NOON TODAY, people anywhere on the planet with access to the Internet
will be able to look at
the 1999 results of the Maryland School Performance Assessment Program
more depth than would have been dreamed possible only a few years ago.
They can learn all the major demographic and educational data
for any public school in Maryland: enrollment, MSPAP test scores
for seven years running, number of children receiving free
lunches (a measure of poverty), student mobility rates, dropout
rates, number of boys and number of girls, racial statistics, test
results by race and gender -- and that's only a part of it.
Thanks to computers and the Internet, interested parties can do
some sophisticated comparisons. With a few clicks, the computer
will create a graph showing whether a school is an outlier -- doing
better or worse than expected, given its scores and
demographics. If 43 percent of a school's third-graders scored at
the satisfactory level in reading, for example, a feature called
"visual display" will show the school's student mobility rate against
the rate of all other Maryland third grades with the same score.
It's an invaluable service made possible by the wonders of
technology. It's also the very essence of accountability. The
service allows parents to answer the questions, "Where are we?"
and "How did we get here?" What can't be answered is, "Where
are we going?"
Mark Moody, assistant superintendent in charge of testing, says
Maryland has had 8.3 million "hits" on its Web site
(www.msde.state.md.us) in the 11 months since it opened,
although only 200,000 to 300,000 are classified as "unique users"
because they left their names or e-mail addresses.
Maryland is one of 26 states displaying its statewide test scores
and other information on the Web, says Kathy Christie, director of
the clearinghouse at the Education Commission of the States, a
Denver-based organization that monitors the nation's schools.
"For parents and people who want a dispassionate look at what's
happening in their schools, this is an invaluable service," she
says. "Because of the increasing sophistication of the data, we're
beginning to spot patterns, seeing what works and what doesn't."
Left unstated is that parents can look at the data and draw their
own conclusions without filtering by the educators or (yikes!) the
Not long ago, Maryland's data collecting was primitive at best. For
years in the early 1970s, the State Department of Education
released data for all districts except Baltimore. The city, which had
a unique legal status, was so incompetent that it couldn't gather
accurate data even for basic categories like enrollment.
Then there was a period during which racial data were withheld,
lest unfavorable comparisons be made. To this day, state officials
are sensitive about making comparisons. They refuse to rank
districts or schools, but with a little work, anyone can do it. The
data are out there for anyone with a computer and modem to see
and examine, condemn or admire.
The way it should be in a free society.
Moody says the 1999 facts and figures will be on the Web at noon
today, after state Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick's annual
MSPAP news conference in downtown Baltimore.
State's 24 school districts share information on Web
The Maryland Association of Boards of Education has launched a
useful Web site that will allow board members in the 24 districts to
share information. But, of course, the site is available to all. It
includes a directory and forum, calendar of events, reference
library and legislative updates. The address is www.mabe.org.
Elite group of teachers earns national certification
A new group of Maryland teachers has reached the highest
pinnacle of their profession: certification by the National Board for
Professional Teaching Standards.
These teachers survived a voluntary months-long process in
which they went through rigorous self-examination and
examination by outside experts.
They are: [none in Howard County]
Originally published on Dec 1 1999
- I went to the Maryland Report Card presentation at the State Board of
Education this am and Howard County is ranked second place behind Kent County
on the MSPAP for 1999.