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When HSA Test Scores Go Missing, Students Pay Price

(By Julie Zhu -- Montgomery Blair High School)

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By Jay Mathews
Thursday, December 6, 2007

Dear Extra Credit:

As we debate the merits of allowing some students to do projects in lieu of passing Maryland's High School Assessment exams, there is an 800-pound gorilla standing in the corner giggling about lost scores.

My son's guidance counselor reports that her mailbox is jammed with letters from concerned parents about missing scores. Apparently the state loses scores quite frequently. In addition, passing scores that appear on a report from an earlier year disappear the next!

The procedure to find the scores requires searches of the school's records, and requesting an investigation at the state level for tests taken in high school and at the county level for scores on tests such as Algebra I, commonly taken in middle school.

I don't have a major problem with these exams. But if the state cannot reliably manage the score data, how is it fair for it to hold students' graduation hostage?

Sally Kelly

Bethesda

Ron Peiffer, the state's deputy school superintendent, said that he was aware of only two such lost scores in the past year. He said they were the result of mishaps at schools and were remedied. "In one instance, the school inadvertently packed a student test booklet in a box with other test booklets that were not to be scored," he said. "Excess test booklets are shipped to schools each administration in the event a booklet gets damaged or becomes unusable. The damaged booklets are returned in the 'do not score' box to the test vendor along with unused test booklets. The good booklets are put in boxes marked for scoring. A little detective work tracked that booklet down."


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