Educators, lawmakers urge passage of bills limiting school testing

Educators and lawmakers urge passage of bills to limit standardized testing.

Educators and lawmakers urged the General Assembly Thursday to pass a bipartisan package of bills that would reduce standardized testing in Maryland schools.

The Maryland State Education Association called a news conference in Annapolis to promote three bills it is supporting. House Speaker Michael E. Busch and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, the Democratic leaders of the two chambers, said last month that they would make testing limits a priority this session.

The three proposed measures would:

-- Limit standardized testing to 2 percent of the instruction time in any school year. The measure is sponsored by Del. Eric Luedtke and Sen. Roger Manno, both Montgomery County Democrats.

“These are 10-year-olds, 9-year-olds, 8-year-olds taking 50 hours of standardized testing,” said Luedtke, a former social studies teacher. He said the time devoted to test preparation diminished students’ love of learning.

-- Converting the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment, which was introduced to Maryland in 2014, to what is known as a sampling test. The legislation was introduced by Republican Sen. J. B. Jennings of Baltimore County and Del. Haven Shoemaker of Carroll County. The measure would tell districts to give the test to a sample group of students rather than all new pupils, as is currently done.

Jennings said the kindergarten assessment takes away from student learning. “Taking a test, you’re not learning anything. You’re regurgitating what you’ve been taught,” he said.

-- Eliminating the state's authority to require school districts to include scores on a test associated with the Common Core curriculum guidelines in evaluations of teachers and principals. There is currently a moratorium on the use of the Partnership for Assessments of Readiness for College and Careers test, better known as PARCC. The bill -- sponsored by Del. Eric Ebersole, a Democrat who represents Howard and Baltimore counties -- would make the freeze permanent.

Ebersole, a math teacher, said “teachers do not have a problem being evaluated” but criticized what he called one-size-fits-all methods that rely heavily on standardized test results to measure teachers. He said that if the state decided to use PARCC test results to measure teachers, educators would be reluctant to sign up to teach those classes.

Baltimore Sun reporter Erin Cox contributed to this article.

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