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"Eighth-grade reading scores are barely moving. We have a whole lot of work to do."

Nancy S. Grasmick,state superintendent of schools, following the recent release of results on the state's annual Maryland School Performance Assessment Program tests.

"The character of the American middle school is as much to blame as anything else. We take kids from a small, intimate, friendly and controlled learning environment and propel them into a large, impersonal environment where the pupil-teacher ratio expands very quickly, where a teacher might have to deal with 200 kids in a day. Achievement starts to decline right away in the sixth grade, and by the 12th grade the gap has become a canyon."

William Moloney,former Calvert County superintendent and now commissioner of education in Colorado, explaining the eighth-grade reading test score problem.

"The more popular the Simpsons on TV, the less motivation on the eighth-grade tests. I'm partly serious about that. We've polled kids taking NAEP [the National Assessment of Educational Progress], and the fourth-graders, love their little hearts, are highly motivated. Over 40 percent of the eighth-graders say it's not important. They blow it off." Mark D. Musick,president of the Southern Regional Education Board, an organization of Southern and Border states devoted to improving public schools.

Pub Date: 12/20/98

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