Practice Activity: Leading a Problem Clarification Process
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School J

The Maryland School Performance Assessment Program administered to eighth grade students at the middle school level is a form of a criterion referenced assessment used state-wide. Students are assessed in the content areas of reading, writing, language, math, science and social studies. The assessment integrates the content areas in performance-based tasks requiring students to work collaboratively to investigate and independently to respond to the activities.

The data available regarding the success of students at our school since 1993 has indicated inconsistent progress. In the area of reading, 1993 data indicated 25.8 percent of our students successfully met the standards for satisfactory. After peaking at 38.6 percent in 1996, students achieving satisfactory have declined for thee years, reaching a percentage of 25.6 percent in 1999, which is below the percentage in 1993. Results in the area of writing represent a similar patter as reading of peaking in 1996 and declining nearly 10 percent by 1999. Language usage results follow a similar pattern, with a decrease in percentage of 13.7 percent over the same testing years. In the areas of mathematics, science, and social studies, 1996 was also a peak year of performance and in the years that followed experienced insignificant change. In other words, the scores appear flat.

When looking at the disaggregated data provided regarding gender, female students outscore male students significantly in every category. The gap is greatest in the language arts area, where female students outscore their male counterparts more than 2 to 1. The smallest gap is in the area of mathematics, were 5.3 percent more female students achieved a score of satisfactory. In the area of science, 73.7 percent of our females scored satisfactory on the assessment. The African American population scoring satisfactory on the MSPAP was significantly higher than the white population in the areas of writing and language usage. In the areas of science and social studies, African American students performed relatively the same as white students.

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