Board of Education Urges State Suspension of MSPAP

February 12, 2002
The Montgomery County Board of Education voted unanimously today [Tuesday, February 12] to request that the Maryland State Board of Education and state superintendent of schools delay any further use of the current Maryland School Performance Assessment Program (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.”

The Board called on the state to develop an accountability and testing program that meets new federal mandates while “establishing trust among parents and educators as to its reliability and validity.” Last week, the Board’s officers (President Reginald M. Felton and Vice President Patricia B. O’Neill) urged the state superintendent to suspend MSPAP this year, and the presidents of the employee organizations representing teachers and principals also urged a similar action. [See links below.]

In taking today’s action, the Board reaffirmed its “commitment to academic achievement for all students through annual multiple assessments that provide data on the performance and progress of individual students” -- the kind of data not provided by MSPAP.

During the discussion, the Board officers said that letters would be sent to other boards of education around the state informing them of today’s action in Montgomery County and encouraging support for delaying the current MSPAP.

The Board said the action was prompted by “legitimate questions” that have been raised about “the reliability and validity of last year’s scores and the administration of MSPAP.” In particular, the Board said that the most recent MSPAP scores reflected “an inconsistency with scores from prior years and with other indicators of student achievement and academic trends.”

“One recurring major concern of many parents and educators is that MSPAP does not generate individual student data, released to parents, to assess how their son or daughter is performing,” the Board said.

The Board’s action follows the approval of Public Law 107-110 (No Child Left Behind Act of 2001) by Congress and signed into law last month by the President. The Board said the new federal mandate recognizes the need for individual student data based on measurable standards so as to ensure a successful accountability and assessment program.

The Board said the state could delay MSPAP while developing a new testing program that would comply with the federal mandate for comprehensive individual testing, standards, and detailed data that pinpoint the progress of each student. The Board’s discussion included the suggestion that MSPAP could be replaced at least temporarily with the Comprehensive Tests of Basic Skills (CTBS), which is given already by the state in Grades 2, 4, and 6.

Note: Copies of the joint letter by the employee organizations and the letter from the Board of Education officers are available at the links below.

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