- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 22, 2003

BALTIMORE (AP) — Half to two-thirds of students who took the state’s new tests in March passed under scoring standards approved yesterday by the state Board of Education.

But the overall proficiency of the 260,000 children in grades three, five, eight and 10 who took the tests in reading and math masked a poor performance by minorities, children from families in poverty and those with disabilities.

In third-grade mathematics, for example, fewer than half of black children scored at the proficient and advanced levels, while four of five white children met that target, the Baltimore Sun reported.

Among special-education children, a little more than a third in grades three and five and a fifth in grade eight passed the reading test, while 8.4 percent of eighth-graders passed the math exam.

“That’s unacceptable,” said state Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick. “We have a very long way to go.”

The results also demonstrate the need for full state financing of the $1.3 billion public school funding formula known as the Thornton plan, she said.

The standards for the new Maryland School Assessments provide the basis for a campaign to move all children to the proficient level by 2014, as required by the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

Nearly 300 Maryland educators spent much of the past two weeks devising the state’s standards. They were submitted to Mrs. Grasmick, who approved them Sunday.

Next month, the state will approve performance standards for its new high school exit tests.

The Maryland School Assessments replace the 10-year-old Maryland School Performance Assessment Program (MSPAP), which had to be dropped last year because it was designed to measure the performance of schools, not individualstudents.

No school-by-school scores were released yesterday.

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