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Maryland School "Report Card" Shows Solid Gains
Schools continue making progress on state tests

grastalk.gif (79914 bytes)On December 11, 1997, State Superintendent of Schools Nancy S. Grasmick released the latest "report card" on Maryland schools. With all the data from schools statewide tallied, it was clear that the state is making continued solid gains on MSPAP. According to Dr. Grasmick, "The real dividend of MSPAP is the focused, high-quality teaching these challenging tests bring about."

"This year's report card tells us that our teachers and principals are continuing to raise their academic expectations of students in Maryland classrooms every day. Clearly, the Maryland School Performance Program is accomplishing its goals," Dr. Grasmick continued.

The State Superintendent's remarks came during a news briefing in Baltimore attended by more than 200 legislators, educators, and business leaders. U.S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley, Governor Parris N. Glendening, Maryland Business Roundtable for Education Chairman Raymond A. Mason, Department of Business and Economic Development Secretary James T. Brady, and George Marx, Vice Chancellor of the University Systems of Maryland, were among those who addressed the attendees.

"No one said it was going to be easy, but this report card tells us very clearly that meaningful school improvement is happening throughout Maryland," said Governor Glendening. "I commend the teachers and principals who have shown the vision, courage, and commitment necessary to get their students where they are today. These results are further evidence that when you challenge our students to do better, they are able to meet higher standards."

Test scores indicate that 1997's across-the-board gains are very much evident at the state, system, and school level. This year's scores represent four years of continuous MSPAP improvement and raise the state's composite MSPAP score more than 10 percentage points since 1993 to 41.8 percent. While 19 school districts improved over last year, all 24 school systems have improved over 1993.

"Maryland has clearly earned its reputation as a leader in school reform," said Secretary Riley. "Maryland's significant, sustained progress illustrates what is possible when you set higher standards for our schools."

Many school systems are showing rapid MSPAP progress. Four counties Calvert, Dorchester, Kent, and St. Mary's have raised their scores nearly 20 points each since 1993; another six have raised their scores more than 14 points each. More than half of Maryland's schools are at or within striking distance of rigorous state performance standards.

Many reconstitution-eligible schools those whose organization and instructional programs are changed to improve student academic achievement also show significant gains. For example, Woodson Middle School in Somerset County has posted a 23-point MSPAP increase since it was designated as eligible for reconstitution in early 1996.

Superintendent's Message:
Annual Report to Our Investors

Maryland's annual report card release represents our annual report to our investors in education parents, students, teachers, business leaders, and the community.

It is my pleasure to report to you that your investments are yielding dividends for our children, including better schools and better classroom learning. Many school systems have led their schools to outstanding achievements over the past four years. For example, Dorchester County has doubled the number of students performing at the satisfactory level on MSPAP. In fact, Calvert, Dorchester, Kent, and St. Mary's counties have raised their MSPAP scores nearly 20 points each since 1993.

In Maryland, we are aiming higher. Year after year, we continue to see across-the-board gains on MSPAP. Four years ago, some felt we were expecting too much, but we knew that if you want world-class schools, you must set world-class standards. This year, nine elementary schools are already meeting all MSPAP standards at grade 3. Seven schools are meeting all grade 5 satisfactory standards two of those schools, Manor Woods Elementary in Howard County and Somerset Elementary School in Montgomery County, at the excellent level.

There is an old adage that says, "We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." These schools have clearly made a habit of excellence, as have the schools profiled on pages 3-4 of this issue of Maryland Classroom. The schools on those pages may not have met standards yet, but they are making remarkable progress toward that goal by focusing on elements such as staff development, integrated reading and writing instruction, and meaningful, hands-on experiences for children. I encourage you to review the profiles of these schools for strategies that you can use in your own school improvement planning. Their success shows what schools such as Vienna Elementary School in Dorchester County have found: students are capable of much more than we might have thought.

Nancy S. Grasmick
State Superintendent of Schools

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