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Editorial: Testing waiver warranted

The U.S. Department of Education could end consternation in states that have adopted the new Common Core standards by releasing them from mandatory student testing requirements without penalty this year.

Maryland lawmakers in the House Ways and Means Committee Wednesday heard testimony for and against canceling the state's Maryland School Assessments.

Under the federal No Child Left Behind Act schools are required to test students in grades three through eight in reading and math. The tests are used to ensure that school systems are making progress toward ensuring all students are getting the education they need.

The problem this year is that most states have adopted the new Common Core standards, which aim to make our students more competitive and set basic minimum achievement standards. Next year, students will take a new test that better corresponds to the Common Core curriculum, but only a small sample group of students is taking that test this year.

It really does not make sense to test students with the old Maryland School Assessments when students are being taught under the new Common Core curriculum. A transition period should be built in to any major change of this type, and allowing one-year waivers for states and school systems to complete the transition isn't unreasonable.

As it stands, the tests do not align with the curriculum, so their value as a measuring tool is negated. Students shouldn't be forced to take the tests just so the state can satisfy an outdated federal No Child Left Behind requirement.

The objective should always focus on what is in the best interest of children. States adopted the Common Core standards as the next phase of No Child Left Behind with a goal of continuing to improve the quality of education students receive.

Taking the MSAs won't serve a purpose this year, and next year students will be tested on Common Core standards.

Given that, it just makes sense for the federal government to allow Maryland and other states a waiver in testing requirements for this year.

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