Board of Education Officers Urge Halt in MSPAP Testing

February 7, 2002
Note: The following letter was sent today from Reginald M. Felton, president, and Patricia B. O'Neill, vice president, Montgomery County Board of Education. In summary, the letter urges the state to halt MSPAP testing.

February 7, 2002

Dr. Nancy S. Grasmick
State Superintendent of Schools
Maryland State Department of Education
200 West Baltimore Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21201-2595

Dear Dr. Grasmick:

You have said that the Maryland School Performance Assessment Program (MSPAP) needs to evolve into something better, and we agree. Maryland students, as well as their parents, teachers, and principals, deserve an assessment program that provides reliable and valid data. They need individual student data, too, not just school data.

Only then will Maryland find the kind of statewide support necessary for a successful accountability program. MSPAP has not achieved this. That is why so many changes will be necessary for the state to comply with the new No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. Congress and the President recognized the need for individual student data based on measurable standards. The absence of such data from MSPAP has undermined its usefulness. Now the problems with MSPAP threaten to weaken the support necessary for successfully implementing the high school assessments this year.

There is widespread agreement that MSPAP needs to change. But what happens in the meantime? Why should thousands of students and teachers be required to go through one, two, or three more years of a controversial testing program with disputed results while we wait for a new test? Indeed, growing concerns across Maryland -- not just in Montgomery County -- suggest that mandating the current test even one more year is not in the best interest of our state or our students.

Instead, we need to applaud the good work done thus far with MSPAP and quickly turn toward establishing a solid replacement program, one that reestablishes the trust statewide in accountability and assessment. You have said that the new testing program needs to comply with the federal mandate for comprehensive individual testing, standards, and detailed data that pinpoint the progress of each student. We urge you and the Maryland State Board of Education to delay further use of the current MSPAP until and unless the test is reconstituted to reflect the best interests of parents, students, teachers, and principals, as well as national educational policy.


Reginald M. Felton
Montgomery County Board of Education

Patricia B. O'Neill
Vice President
Montgomery County Board of Education

Copy to:
Members, Maryland State Board of Education
Members, Montgomery County Board of Education
Dr. Weast

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