State Board of Education to Delay Standardized Tests Until Fall

Maryland State Superintendent of Schools Karen Salmon

The Maryland State Board of Education reconsidered their previous vote to move forward standardized testing in spring and made the decision to delay administering testing until fall.

The United States Department of Education announced last week that all states are required to administer annual standardized testing, but offered flexibility in how to administer the exams. Also last week, the Maryland State Board of Education voted to administer the Maryland Comprehensive Assessment Program (MCAP) to all students in 3rd through 8th grade and high school in reading and math, but reconsidered that vote yesterday. Other tests, such as social studies, science, and government were dropped in an effort to reduce student testing time. MCAP is replacing the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), which was last given in 2019.

From Maryland Matters:

The math test is two hours and 40 minutes and the English test is four hours and 40 minutes. Teachers can administer sections of the test over the span of days, to preserve time for instructional learning every day, said Jennifer Judkins, assistant state superintendent. Testing can take place as late as the first week of June.

MCAP was supposed to be implemented last year, but it was delayed because of the pandemic. The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC) was the statewide assessment used before.

Maryland State Superintendent Karen Salmon also initially recommended spring testing, stating that there is no consistent data across the state that can be used to help understand the extent of learning loss from the COVID-19 pandemic. “In order for us to recover and rebuild from the pandemic, we must first understand the extend of learning loss that has impacted our students across the state. That cannot happen without assessment data,” Salmon said.

Yesterday, the State Board of Education reconsidered the plan to administer testing and voted to delay testing until fall, with just one dissenting vote from Rachel McCusker, the teacher member of the board. This follows concerns from stakeholders that standardized testing would not adequately reflect where students are at academically due to the pandemic and if there was a need to require students to sit for seven hours of testing as they’re just returning to in-person learning. Concerns were also raised about security, as about 50% of students continue to learn remotely.

In regards to the length of testing, Superintendent Salmon announced that the fall tests would be diagnostic tests, and therefore less than about half of the time of the full assessments, with the English diagnostic test taking 2 hours, 20 minutes and the math test taking 1 hour, 20 minutes. The Maryland State Education Association (MSEA), representing the majority of Maryland’s teachers, agreed with the decision to delay testing, with MSEA President Cheryl Bost saying that “educators understand that what our students need right now isn’t mandated standardized testing, but instructional time, opportunities to learn and be with their classmates, and time to address their social-emotional well being.”

The State Board’s decision does not affect all standardized testing, as high school students may decide to take the standardized assessments given at the conclusion of certain course, such as Algebra I.

Each state is required by federal law to give standardized testing – and schools are held accountable based on results. Specifically, Maryland tests are used as a part of a star rating system. Maryland will be required to submit an official request to the U.S. Department of Education to delay testing this spring.

Watch the State Board of Education meeting.

Stay tuned to Conduit Street for the latest.

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