Maryland slashes number of tests for students


Maryland Maryland ranks 49th in the nation for teacher autonomy, and educators are blaming the overtesting of students.
Produced by Gray Hughes

Maryland students will officially see less testing next school year.

On May 25, Gov. Larry Hogan signed into law the More Learning, Less Testing Act, limiting testing to 2.2 percent of the year in Maryland public schools — 23.8 hours each school year elementary and middle schools and 25.7 hours in high school — with the exception of eighth grade, where testing is limited to 2.3 percent of the school year — 24.8 hours.

BACKGROUND: Testing overload? Md. seeks to give teachers more power

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“Today is a huge step in rolling back the disruptive and counterproductive over-testing culture in our schools,” said Maryland State Education Association President Betty Weller in a release. “By eliminating more than 700 hours of unnecessary district-mandated testing across the state, our kids will get back days — and in some cases weeks — of instruction time to learn well-rounded skills and gain valuable problem solving ability. We thank legislators for their leadership on this issue and for listening to educators, parents, and students.”

Both the House of Delegates and the Senate passed the act unanimously.

The bill comes after a 2015 student conducted by the Maryland State Education Association that showed 50 percent of Maryland voters, the highest percentage of those polled, said the biggest issue facing education in the state was too much testing.

Six hundred Maryland voters from across the political spectrum were concerned with the amount of testing, with 64 percent of those polled saying Maryland spends too much time on testing and 69 percent saying too much emphasis is placed on testing.

The issue was a bipartisan one, drawing near equal amounts of Republicans, Democrats and independents saying over testing is an issue.

Also in 2015, the U.S. Department of Education recommended no more than 2 percent of a students’ time in the classroom should be spent on testing, or 21 instructional hours.

According to the Maryland State Education Association, the average Maryland student takes over 200 standardized tests during their time in school, taking them away from the classroom for 249 hours.

This number does not include time spent by students taking in-class tests, Advanced Placement and International Baccaluaureate exams, and in some cases the SAT and ACT exams, the Maryland State Education Association said.

The More Learning, Less Testing Act would eliminate 730 hours worth of testing across the 17 Maryland school districts next year.

But, despite this step, Weller said the state still has to work to reduce testing.

“Maryland should be a leader not only in reducing testing, but in advancing new hands-on ways to assess students through performance tasks and portfolios that better fit within our students’ everyday learning,” she said in the release. “Even as we celebrate a big step today, we must keep our focus on more comprehensive action to improve student testing in Maryland.”

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