Vol. 17, No. 9 – August 31, 2006
MARYLAND’S AP, PSAT, AND ACT SCORES UP;
SCORES ON REVISED SAT ALSO RELEASED
Maryland high school students are performing better than the
nation as a whole on a variety of national assessments, Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr. discussed new initiatives, as
continuing a pattern that has held true for more than a decade, well as Maryland education successes, during an
according to data released this week. With the ACT Program appearance before the State Board this week.
and the College Board releasing results from the 2006 testing
of high school seniors, Maryland students again hold their own
against their peers nationally. Among the information included GOVERNOR ANNOUNCES NEW EDUCATION
in the recent test score data releases: INITIATIVES IN STATE BOARD APPEARANCE
Advanced Placement—Maryland has been a national Two new education initiatives designed to further strengthen
leader in Advanced Placement (AP) and 2006 was no Maryland schools were announced this week by Governor
exception. A total of 41,711 students took at least one Robert L. Ehrlich, Jr.
AP exam last year, an 11.7 percent increase. Students
from historically underrepresented minority groups did The Governor announced he would include $800,000 in his
particularly well. The number of African American next budget to establish a voluntary quality teacher
students taking the test increased 16.2 percent, for compensation plan to reward outstanding teachers, and $1.6
example, to 4,800, and the number achieving college million to bolster training for school leaders.
mastery scores of 3, 4, or 5 increased 17.5 percent to
2,570. In 2005, Maryland was second only to New “I am deeply committed to setting high standards of excellence
York in the percent of students passing AP exams, and in our public schools,” Governor Ehrlich said, announcing his
the 2006 ranking appeared likely to continue, though ideas in an appearance before the State Board of Education.
official AP rankings will not be released by the “We must continue to raise the bar and try new models to
College Board until later this year. improve student performance.”
ACT—The ACT Exam is rapidly growing in The Principal Leadership Program is designed to address the
popularity across Maryland. Although the SAT critical shortage of qualified principals facing most Maryland
remains the dominant college entrance exam, the school districts. Building on the success of Maryland’s
number of students in the state taking the ACT has Principals’ Academy, the program would provide future and
risen from 6,307 in 2002 to 7,558 last year, a 23 present school leaders with training, support, and mentoring.
percent jump. ACT also added a voluntary writing
segment to its test, but did not change the familiar 36- “I have never seen a great school without a great principal,”
point scoring scale. Maryland’s average score of 21.4 said Dr. Nancy S. Grasmick, State Superintendent of Maryland
was a large increase over last year’s 21.0, and well Public Schools. “This effort to strengthen principal training
above the national composite of 21.1, an improvement will pay off at schools throughout the state. A principal is the
described by ACT officials as “substantial.” school’s academic leader, and a great principal helps improve
instruction. In addition, I share Governor Ehrlich’s believe
The PSAT—Students continued to do very well on that excellence in teaching should be rewarded.”
the PSAT in 2006, with juniors who took the PSAT
exams seeing their critical reading scores jump 1.2 The Quality Compensation Initiative is aimed at establishing a
points and mathematics scores increase 0.9 points over new compensation system that would reward public school
2005. The PSAT is frequently taken in the sophomore teachers who excel in the classroom. The Governor’s plan
and sometimes junior years. The junior year would allow local systems to op in to the new system. MSDE,
administration of the PSAT serves as the National in collaboration with local systems, will explore elevating
Merit Scholar Qualifying Examination. Juniors in factors, such as improved student performance, additional
(More on Page Two) duties and responsibilities, and extended hours.
MARYLAND’S AP, PSAT, AND ACT SCORES UP; Maryland scores, like scores nationwide, have been abruptly
SCORES ON REVISED SAT RELEASED (Cont.) altered by the New SAT. While the new writing score for state
schools was 499, two points higher than the national average,
Maryland students did not participate in the PSAT as both the mathematics and critical reading scores fell from 2005
often in 2006. It is believe this was largely because of to 2006. Maryland’s verbal score in 2005 was 511 compared
the new longer and more rigorous test design. to a critical reading score of 503 in 2006. The mathematics
score fell from 515 to 509.
The New SAT—Scores on the SAT, which had been
on a steady upswing both statewide and nationally for Other states reported drops as well as SAT scores nationally
more than a decade appear to establish a new starting showed their most dramatic declines in 30 years.
point for tracking scores in future years. The College
Board has gone so far as to refer to the exam as the Maryland’s SAT scores remain the highest in the Mid-Atlantic
New SAT. The reconfigured assessment, now four region, according to the College Board. Maryland’s combined
hours long, has been described by Maryland students score of 1511 ranked Maryland fourth among all states with a
as “exhausting,” opening with an hour-long writing 70 percent or better participation rate in the exam.
assessment followed by generally higher level math
and critical reading sections. In Maryland, the
statewide increase in SAT test-takers was just 2 NOMINATIONS OPENED FOR BALTIMORE
percent this year, the smallest in five years. Fewer CITY BOARD OF SCHOOL COMMISSIONERS
juniors are opting to retake the New SAT in their
senior year than had done so in recent years. While The Maryland State Board of Education is seeking candidates
students who take a full college preparatory to serve on the Baltimore City Board of School
curriculum in high school continue to perform well, Commissioners. To be eligible for appointment, candidates
those students who have taken fewer rigorous courses must be residents of Baltimore City and be at least 18 years
are frequently seeing a drop in scores. The overall old.
result has been a small decrease in scores in Maryland
and in the rest of the nation. State Board members said that in addition to these
requirements, it is highly desirable that candidates have high-
“We intend to treat these scores for the New SAT as a baseline level of knowledge and expertise concerning the successful
for comparing forward,” said State Superintendent of Schools administration of a large business, nonprofit, or governmental
Nancy S. Grasmick this week. “The New SAT is a much entity and have served in a high-level management within such
different assessment. It is longer and appears to be far more an entity; possess a high-level knowledge and expertise
difficult than the previous exam for many students. Looking concerning education; have a child enrolled in the Baltimore
forward, it may better gauge student preparedness and city schools; and possess knowledge or expertise in the
encourage instruction at the high schools. We’ll know a lot education of children with disabilities.
more about the performance of Maryland students after next
year’s administration.” For more information, see the ad posted on the MSDE website,
www.marylandpublicschools.org. Applications will be
The Council of Chief State School Officers, the Washington, accepted through September 15. 2006.
DC-based organization representing state education leaders, is
cautioning educators and the public against using the New
SAT in comparison to last year’s figures. “It would be better if
OFFICE OF ACADEMIC POLICY
no interpretations of change in scores be made,” the Nancy S. Grasmick State Education Building
organization said in a statement released on Tuesday. 200 West Baltimore Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
This overall pattern of strengthening assessment scores mirrors
that of Maryland’s own assessments – the Maryland School On the web: www.marylandpublicschools.org
Assessment and the High School Assessments – which have
Nancy S. Grasmick, State Superintendent of Schools
seen across-the-board increases. The ACT, AP, and PSAT Ronald A. Peiffer, Deputy State Superintendent
scores have been rising with few setbacks for more than a Bill Reinhard, Editor
The lone exception to the tally of improving test scores is the MSDE-TV Video:
extensively redesigned New SAT. The College Board added a http://www.marylandpublicschools.org/MSDE/newsroom/videos
lengthy writing assessment, increasing the rigor of
mathematics portion, and changing what was once a “verbal”
segment to a critical reading assessment. The test now takes
nearly four hours to complete.