Tuesday, September 23, 2008

State won't release school test results until October

Delay could alter graduation requirement's effect on Class of 2009

By Liz Bowie
September 21, 2008

Maryland education officials said they will wait until late October to release detailed data on how many seniors in each county and school risk not graduating in June because they have not passed the High School Assessments.

The delay pushes back the time when the state school board can take up the issue of whether to adjust the test policy for the Class of 2009, the first graduating class that is being required to pass exams to graduate.

The data, which was expected this month, is not ready, state officials said, because local school districts have not given the state complete files on each student in the class and where he or she stands academically.

One school system, which the state would not identify, has "half a million errors in their files," said Leslie Wilson, who is in charge of testing programs at the state level.

Data showing a large percentage of students in a given school or district falling behind on the tests could add fu el to arguments that implementing the graduation requirement should be pushed back. The state is being cautious about releasing the data to make sure it doesn't include students who weren't on track to graduate anyway, because those cases might make the impact of the tests seem greater than it is.

"That is the reason you want accurate data, because it is an important year," said Nancy S. Grasmick, state superintendent of schools. "We are very strict about ensuring that information is correct before it is released."

Read more HERE.


Anonymous said...

I can hardly find the words to express my complete disgust this morning. The results from last spring's administration of the HSAs have been back from the testing company since before school started this spring. Parents have gotten results for their own children. But now we learn that Nancy Grasmick is refusing to share this information - which Maryland taxpayers have paid for, with ANYONE. It is "embargoed". And why you ask? It's because she is demanding that each local school district go through the files of each and every 2009 senior, to find any evidence that seniors who may have failed an HSA last spring may not be on track to graduate for any other reason. Let's say a 2009 senior may be a credit or two shy of what he needs to graduate and also failed an HSA test last spring. Well it looks like Dr. Grasmick does not want that senior's HSA failure to be included in the all important 2009 HSA pass rate. Let's say a 2009 class member failed an HSA test last spring but dropped out last week - they don't want that student to be included in the pass rate calculation -- the MSDE wants him or her disappeared. They want the numbers to be "sanitized" at the local level before we let the newspaper reporters have a look at them. This is the game we are playing. It has been played in every other state that has gone before us on this high stakes testing path -and it is being played here in Maryland - and it is wrong and disgusting!!! It is corrupt and intellectually dishonest! The pass rate that the MSDE should be giving us is the "on-time" pass rate that would require no manipulation at the local level. The on-time pass rate would be calculated by dividing the number of students who have met the HSA requirements divided by the number of students who were enrolled in the class of 2009 as freshman. It is just that easy and just that honest. Any other number is complete BS as far as we are concerned.
Next Tuesday, 9/23, the MD State Board of Education is meeting. At 2:00 they will receive a complete snow job update about the status of the HSA program. Every attempt will be made to make everything look like it is on track - even though the MSDE won't offer up any data to prove it. Be aware that Governor O'Malley's state board of education appointees now constitute a majority on the MD BOE. They could and SHOULD get this train off the tracks, at least for the class of 2009, this coming Tuesday. There is nothing to it. All it would take would be a motion, a second and a vote. Any MD BOE member who is afraid of being criticized for not wanting to "hold schools accountable" has the perfect excuse - it is glaringly obvious that the MSDE is hiding data and that they do not have their act together as far as the class of 2009 is concerned. We have come to the point where the buck stops with the MD State BOE and Governor O'Malley - who has managed to completely avoid any accountability with regard to the conduct of the HSA program. But there is NOTHING stopping Governor O'Malley from urging his appointees to put a stop to this on Tuesday. He has intervened in BOE affairs before and he can do it again. If that fails - he can come out of the shadows and announce that he will take it up with the legislature next session - there is no reason why we can't reprise the bills that were introduced last year, that would have prohibited the State BOE from using the HSAs as a graduation requirement. To borrow a phrase from Obama -- ENOUGH!!!
I heard from a mother this week who is grappling with an ill-conceived Bridge Plan option, which is still under construction. Her special needs child is on track to pass EVERY CLASS NEEDED TO GRADUATE. This mother is outraged - and rightly so. Why weren't these projects introduced in freshman year? What is with this last minute wild goose chase Dr. Grasmick is sending this woman's child on? If her child does not graduate, her student will not be eligible for student loans - she is a single mother - how will her family cope - especially given the financial news this week? If a single student in the class of 2009 is denied a diploma by the MSDE, we should all hold Governor O'Malley personally responsible. He could have shown Dr. Grasmick the door -but he backed down. He could have supported bills last session which would have derailed this trainwreck, but he didn't even bother to weigh i n. Now he could contact his MD BOE appointees and tell them to do the right thing on Tuesday. All it would take is a motion, a second and a vote. It is not rocket science. It is just not that hard to do the right thing. I guess we'll find out on Tuesday whether any of us who voted for Governor O'Malley because of his righteous position on testing (see below) threw our vote away.
In the meantime - why not drop him an email? Contact his Education Advisor, Pat Foerster at pfoerster@gov.state.md.us .

Jennifer said...

I am happy to say we (CCPS) is not who they are referring to in the article.

Anonymous said...

I can say with a clean conscious that I didn't vote for O'Malley.

The HSAs are a joke. Anyone that fails them should not graduate, as they are basically illiterate in the subject matter being tested in that particular HSA.

Grasmick is a disgrace to a disgraceful "educational system". They all try to cover their butts but in the end we end up with a crop of students that can't do anything academically.

Anonymous said it well in a previous post. It's disgusting what MSDE is doing, but would you expect anything else from this group of political cronies?