Teacher Appreciation Through #LessTesting

This week is teacher appreciation week. As Valerie Strauss of The Answer Sheet blog in the Washington Post describes, however, teachers would appreciate respect and trust year-round more than gratitude and flattery during teacher appreciation week,

The teaching profession needs two things in order to thrive — respect and trust. The two go together. You can say nice words and be grateful to teachers, but if you do not trust them as professionals, you are not showing them respect. Trust means giving teachers (appropriate) autonomy in their classrooms, but it also means giving them influence over policy — real influence, not a few token teachers on some committee — and it means giving them control over their own professional growth.

The Maryland State Education Association (MSEA) advocates for teachers in Maryland. MACo has partnered with MSEA on initiatives that support teachers, including advocating together for state support for teacher pensions. Ultimately, a partial-victory was reached with the State provided some funding for teacher pension increases in 2017.

In this past year, MSEA also launched a successful campaign to reduce the amount of classroom time spent on standardized testing. Teachers across the state showed their support for this initiative through wearing red and tweeting #lesstesting during the General Assembly Session.

While MSEA did not achieve the goal of limiting mandated testing to 2% of instruction time, the General Assembly did change the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment (KRA) to a sample test, effectively eliminate the KRA for the vast majority of kindergarteners—gives some much needed relief to our youngest learners and their dedicated teachers. The legislature also passed Annual Public Disclosure (HB 412/ SB 533), requiring school districts to publicly disclose all mandated tests and how much time they take away from instruction each year.

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Time estimates for the PARCC standardized test, only one of the tests administered in K-12.

For more information on testing, see the Department of Legislative Services, Fiscal Note on HB 412, the Maryland State Education Association, and the Washington Post, It’s Teacher Appreciation Week. Why some teachers don’t exactly appreciate it.