PR blitz, college-sharing on tap Changes: Watch for a state public relations campaign to promote a new battery of high school tests, and for an increase in cooperative efforts by area colleges to share and save on costs without giving up their identities.


TWO EDUCATION developments to watch closely:

Look for a major public relations campaign to sell the new high school exit tests.

The tests are being developed now, and the Class of 2004 will have to pass them to graduate. If state officials deny diplomas to students who can't pass all 10 of the tests in English, mathematics, science, social studies and vocational skills (euphemistically called "skills for success"), Maryland will enter uncharted territory. (New York state has its Regents Examinations, but they are taken by the top students in the state, not by all of them.)

The Maryland State Education Department did a nice job in the 1970s paving the way for the functional tests and a nice job in the 1980s and early 1990s preparing Marylanders for the Maryland School Performance Assessment Program (MSPAP).

But we ain't seen nothin' yet. Unlike MSPAP, the new tests will measure individual students, including the sons and daughters of Important People.

The trick, as it was with MSPAP, will be to get Marylanders to buy into the testing, to take some pride in the "Maryland High School Assessment Program" and to feel that it's a logical extension of MSPAP, which applies to grades three, five and eight.

Behind every tree in this treacherous terrain are large numbers of critics looking for "outcome-based education," shorthand for socialistic intrusion into the private lives of students and their families. (Maryland gets part-way around this by calling the high school outcomes "core learning goals.") There are also those who feel Maryland kids, already tested nearly to death, hardly need still another assessment. And what will the schools do with the sizable number of students who won't pass the tests?

The 1998 gubernatorial election also could affect the high school initiative.

If Gov. Parris N. Glendening falls to a Republican, could his charismatic state school superintendent, Nancy S. Grasmick, and her reforms be far behind? (Grasmick could prevent this by becoming Governor Grasmick.)

Meanwhile, the education leaders are plunging ahead. School district public relations officers were briefed on the campaign yesterday, and Christopher Cross, the state board president, will do the same for local board presidents next month. Retired Harford Superintendent Ray Keech has hired to coordinate the PR blitz.

No. 2.

Watch for a huge increase in collaboration between and among colleges and universities, even among traditional rivals and enemies.

The economy is forcing such a development. No longer can colleges and universities afford full-fledged academic departments serving only a few students.

The colleges are discovering that they can share high-priced scientific equipment without giving up their identities and reputations. Moreover, technology has made it possible to share information and library resources across institutional and national boundaries.

Many of the collaborative efforts -- for example, the shuttle bus between Goucher and Johns Hopkins -- are long-standing.

The American Council on Education's annual "Campus Trends" publication found that 80 percent of colleges and universities are collaborating more than they once did.

But Judy Jolley Mohraz, president of Goucher College, predicts the trend will accelerate.

Professors are increasingly immobile in their teaching jobs, she says, because of a tight job market and the rules of tenure. But what they know will become increasingly mobile.

"We can't afford to go it alone," she says. "Colleges are centers of brainpower, and they ought to share that brainpower. When I hear about somebody going to Cambridge [England] because we don't have the brainpower here, it just drives me crazy."

Mohraz believes establishment of a mutual World Wide Web site for Baltimore colleges (http: // is only the beginning.

"Why shouldn't all 13 of the Baltimore college and university libraries be accessible to students at all 13 colleges?" she says.

Maryland educators score in major award categories

Congratulations to four Maryland educators who walked into a meeting room near BWI last week and walked out with $25,000 each, no strings attached, as winners of the 1996 Milken Family Foundation National Educator Awards. They are: Denise L. Hershberger of Arnold, principal of Bayside Elementary School in Stevensville; Alma Walker Brown of Baltimore, principal at Dr. Bernard Harris Sr. Elementary School; Jeanne Marie Ecton of Sharpsburg, a teacher at Boonsboro Elementary School; and Edward Silver of Chestertown, a teacher at Millington Elementary in Kent County.

Congratulations also to Thomas Field, a professor of modern languages and linguistics at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, named Maryland Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

Speaking of award winners, Education Beat last week received a reprint of an item in the Howard County edition of The Sun announcing that Stephen Gibson, principal of Patapsco Middle School, had been named Maryland Principal of the Year by the National Association of Secondary School Principals.

"I think this should have appeared in The Sun as a whole," said an attached note. "Steve is a Poly graduate and [a graduate of] the University of Maryland College Park."

The note was signed, "His Mother."

Pub Date: 10/23/96

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