We need less testing and more learning in our schools.
Standardized testing takes far too much time away from learning, preventing students from developing well-rounded skills and a love for learning.
Standardized testing takes away the opportunity for students to learn about art, music, finance, and physical education—subjects that keep kids engaged and give them a well-rounded education.
And it’s not just the tests themselves—hours upon hours of test prep, practice tests, and even “pretend tests” to check testing technology results in fewer class projects and field trips and more stressed out and burned out students.
Educators know that too much standardized testing doesn’t help their students do better in school—or in life. In a recent poll, 95% of Maryland educators – a near-unanimous consensus—said that there’s too much standardized testing in schools.
2016 General Assembly Victories
Educators advanced a comprehensive action plan to reduce testing during the 2016 General Assembly session and came away with two important victories for students:
- We changed the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment (KRA) to a sampling test (HB 657/SB 794). The KRA has proven to be a disruptive test that forces kindergarten students’ beginning weeks to be focused on standardized testing rather than learning to play well with others and their ABC’s. The resulting data doesn’t even help improve instruction. By giving the test to a representative sample of kindergarteners—instead of every single student—we can now get sufficient data about early-childhood education without harming the quality of teaching and learning for our youngest learners.
- We increased transparency around testing by requiring school districts to publicly disclose all mandated assessments each year. With all the hours of learning lost and increased stress due to testing, parents have a right to know when, why, and for how long their children are tested. Now, parents and other education stakeholders will have access to information around testing that should drive conversations on which tests to keep and which tests can be shortened or eliminated.
Educator Action Plan for the State Commission on Assessments
While we took important steps forward in the General Assembly session, the legislature did not pass a comprehensive solution to over-testing across the state. That’s why we need to be engaged with the state Commission to Review Maryland’s Use of Assessments in Public Schools, who will be making recommendations to district school boards, the State Board of Education, and the General Assembly on how to responsibly reduce mandated standardized testing. Educators will be advocating for the following recommendations:
- Passage of a state law limiting all mandated testing to 2% of annual instruction time—or a little more than 20 hours a year.
- The creation of Local Testing Committees to analyze all district-mandated tests and make recommendations to their county school board on changes to their testing program.
- Requiring quarterly email notification from schools to parents about how much testing their children take each marking period.
- Ensuring that the PARCC test cannot be used in teacher and principal evaluations, which only encourages heightened focus and pressure on standardized testing performance.
- Applying to the federal government to seek innovation in testing so districts can experiment with performance-based assessments rather than PARCC.
- Allowing for the opt-out of any testing for special education students/parents when an approved IEP accommodation is not allowed.
Call on your legislators to reduce over-testing in Maryland by:
- Setting a 2% cap on how much instructional time can be devoted to mandated standardized testing
- Creating more transparency by regularly reporting to parents about each school district's mandated standardized tests
- Seeking innovation in testing so districts can experiment with performance-based assessments rather than PARCC
- Reducing the months-long disruption caused by the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment