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

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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