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Bowing to concerns from educators across the state, the Maryland school board voted unanimously this week to delay requiring students to pass new end-of-year tests in high school English and Algebra I in order to graduate.

The delay allows students and schools two more years to adjust to the new Common Core standards and the PARCC tests that align to them.

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The PARCC tests will be given for the first time this school year, and students will not receive their scores until December 2015. The federal and state governments have delayed the use of test scores for teacher evaluations, and state education officials said to require students to pass in order to graduate was not consistent or fair.

The new tests are expected to be far more difficult and educators feared students who hadn't been taught under the new standards would be at a disadvantage on the tests.

The current ninth- and 10th-graders will still have to take the 10th-grade English PARCC and the Algebra I PARCC to meet the graduation requirement but do not have to pass them.

School board members expressed concern that if the PARCC tests didn't count, students would not take them seriously, but Maryland schools Superintendent Lillian Lowery said local school systems will have to impress upon students that the tests will count toward their school's performance.

In addition, the state will give the current High School Assessments in English and math for the last time next year.

liz.bowie@baltsun.com

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