Date: Thu Mar 02 2000 - 09:36:09 EST

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    I want to ask the panelists and others if they are aware of differences in
    achievement by gender (and other factors) on Performance Assessments as
    compared to the more traditional standardized tests. What steps have you
    seen taken to address disparities?

    In Maryland we have been using state performance assessments in grades 3,
    5, and 8 for five years. These assessments in writing, reading, language
    usage, social studies, science, and math are the major instructional thrust
    throughout the state. Scores are determined by detailed rubrics and are
    reported for individual schools and school districts, rather than for
    individual students. Only about 45% of all schools statewide are
    performing at the Satisfactory or above level.

    The performance tasks require application of information and skills, rather
    than content mastery, and involve a great deal of writing; many are team
    projects. Every year, at every grade level, in every subject, and within
    every ethnic group, girls are outperforming boys. There are large
    disparities among economic and ethnic groups, with students in poverty and
    African American and Latino students scoring the lowest. Statewide, on the
    SAT, boys still outperform girls, and the genders are fairly even on
    standardized tests required multiple choice or single answer responses. It
    is an interesting side note that few school districts made inquiries about
    disparities based on gender when males outperformed females. Our Equity
    Office at the State Department of Education has been receiving an increased
    number of calls related to the girls outperforming the boys.

    There are clearly many equity issues, especially since high performing
    schools and those who raise scores from one year to the next are eligible
    for significant monetary rewards. A change related to equity was made in
    these rewards last year, with a school having to show that the scores for
    ALL students improved, not just those who may have been scoring at higher
    levels the previous years.

    Maryland is also moving to implement High States High School Assessments in
    the next few years which will be required for students to receive diplomas.
    As with the performance assessments, there are particular issues for
    students receiving special education services, and those whose primary
    language is not English. Who will be tested, and how will the tests be
    administered? What services will be provided for students who do not pass
    the tests, so that they will be able to graduate, rather than drop out?
    For states that have already implemented these high stakes tests, what
    results have you seen?

    I'd appreciate any information or resources you could share.

    Linda Shevitz, Maryland State Department of Education
    410-767-0438; fax 410-767-0431

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