Good news on student performance Anne Arundel County was only large school system to show sizable gain in MSPAP scores.


AT A TIME when we have become accustomed to hearing about falling test scores, Anne Arundel County's results from the Maryland Schools Performance Assessment Program were pleasant news indeed.

In the most recent round of testing of third-, fifth- and eighth-graders, scores improved significantly countywide. Anne Arundel was, in fact, the only large jurisdiction in the state to show significant improvement from last year to this year.

In the annual battery of language usage, reading, writing, mathematics, science and social studies exams, about 47 percent of students met the standards in these subjects, and in other important criteria such as attendance and dropout rates.

The State Board of Education wants 70 percent of students to meet the standards by 2000, so the county still has a considerable way to go in the next three years.

The welter of data shows evidence of improvement, particularly at the middle school level. In previous years, middle school performance declined. This year, middle school scores improved across the board. Efforts at that level are apparently paying off.

Meanwhile, at Van Bokkelen Elementary, the only suburban school cited by the state as failing last year, test scores showed slight improvement, but were still low.

Only 7.5 percent of fifth-graders at the school in Severn received satisfactory scores in reading, 8.1 percent in writing and 12.9 percent in mathematics. Perhaps more troubling was the drop in writing and reading performance by the school's third graders.

It is too early to tell whether the change of Van Bokkelen's principal and giving the school more materials and resources will have an impact over the long haul.

Most of the changes were made last February, too late in the school year to affect the outcome of the MSPAP exams in late spring. The real test will be when Van Bokkelen children take the exams next spring.

Overall, the assessment program seems to be doing its job in Anne Arundel. Weaknesses are addressed and corrected. If the same steady improvement continues, this will be encouraging news for all residents.

Pub Date: 12/17/96

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