By andrei Blakely
ANNAPOLIS – Results from high school assessment tests should be recorded on students’ official transcripts in the two years before those exams become a graduation requirement, Nancy Grasmick, state superintendent of schools said Tuesday to a joint legislative subcommittee.
Plans are on course to make passing the assessment a graduation requirement starting with the entering class of 2003, Grasmick told the lawmakers. The statewide percentile result would be printed on official transcripts to motivate students in the two years before the assessments become graduation requirements.
The assessments are part of the Maryland School Performance Program and are an extension of the Maryland School Performance Assessment Program tests given by the state to third-, fifth- and eighth-graders. The high school assessments evaluate students on the subjects of math, science, social studies and English.
“It is going to focus students on the seriousness of higher education,” said Grasmick.
The proposal needs State Board of Education approval.
The Maryland assessments are the only fully performance-based tests in the country, said Neil H. Greenberger, spokesman for the State Department of Education. They are similar to tests administered by states like Virginia and New York in that they are statewide.
The Department of Education wanted to make passing the assessment a graduation requirement this year, but the plan was delayed after studies showed 30 percent of students would not pass.
“Resources in the entire state are not equal,” said Delegate Frank Turner, D-Howard. “Some school districts have uncertified teachers.”
Other members of the subcommittee that heard the superintendent’s briefing expressed support but held some reservations.
“We are saddled with tests,” said Sen. Ulysses Currie, D-Prince George’s. “Teachers, students and principals would be bogged down with all of the tests.”
The State Department of Education randomly tested 50,000 students this year to determine points where students performed poorly. The results showed that students would enter the ninth grade at a disadvantage.
“It was found that the diploma could not be tied to assessment at this time,” said Grasmick.
“We believe that it is really important to show students that what they do in school affects their future,” said June Streckfus, from the Maryland Business Roundtable for Education. “Students that do well in the classroom do well in the workplace.”