xml:space="preserve">
xml:space="preserve">
Advertisement
Advertisement

School system decides to double test, despite waiver

Some Carroll students will be tested on both the Maryland School Assessment and the online Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers field tests this spring, despite the approval of a U.S. Department of Education waiver from that requirement.

The Maryland State Department of Education announced Feb. 14 that local school systems are not required to test students in both assessments as a result of the waiver. It also states that schools do not need to produce accountability reports for this year's MSA results.

Gregg Bricca, director of research and accountability for Carroll County Public Schools, said No Child Left Behind requires all students to go through state testing in grades 3-8 and some high school courses. That information is to be used annually to produce a school report card.

Students are administered the MSA in March and the PARCC in April. The PARCC is set to be fully implemented in schools next school year.

Steve Johnson, assistant superintendent of instruction for the school system, said there are a few classrooms in every school that will take part in PARCC and take either the math or English portion of the test.

"We're testing the test," he said. "We won't be getting information back about how well students do."

The purpose of the field testing is to see how well the test is written and see how well the technology works, Johnson said. Despite the test's being designed to be taken online, some students will take a paper and pencil version of the assessment so the state can conduct a comparability study.

"Our decision is they're going to take the full MSA and the select few students chosen to take the field test also will take that," he said.

The MSAs provide parents data on their child comparing them to other students in the state, Johnson said.

If the school system did not double test, there would be logistical concerns, he said. Since an entire school takes the MSAs in one day, the school system is not sure what it would do during that time with the small percentage of students who are set to take the PARCC field test.

Bricca said school systems are still being held accountable to have all required students take a state assessment this school year. If a student scheduled to take the PARCC field test does not do so in April, there would be no opportunity to instead take the MSA test since it will have been completed in March.

"For the participation rate issue, we want students to test," he said.

Gov. Martin O'Malley and education officials have come out in support of Maryland students taking the MSAs this year, but some lawmakers are still against administering them at all.

Del. Justin Ready, R-District 5A, said he believes it would be the right decision to exempt students from taking the MSAs.

"Why spend the time and money testing on something that isn't needed?" he said.

State DOE spokesman William Reinhard said MSDE is not in support of the legislation to halt students' taking the MSAs because they still provide educators and administrators with important information on student achievement.

"In addition, the federal government requires that all students grades three [through] eight are tested in reading and math each year, and this is the only test we have available," he said.

The school system is still waiting to see if the state is granted an evaluation waiver that would prevent schools from evaluating teachers based in part on how well their students perform on the MSAs, according to Director of Curriculum and Instructional Resources Margaret Pfaff, with CCPS.

Twenty percent of the evaluation is based on student improvement on state assessments.

It is the hope of the school system that the State Board of Education will vote on the amendments to the state waiver at its Feb. 25 meeting. From there, the waiver would be sent to the U.S. DOE for review and possible approval, Pfaff said.

Once that occured, the waiver would be sent back for state approval, and it is hoped that the U.S. DOE turns it around quickly enough for the State Board of Education to act at its March meeting, but it could be returned for action at its April or May meeting, Pfaff said.

"As for CCPS, we are in a bit of a holding pattern," Pfaff said. "We plan to meet in the next week or two to determine how we will manage all of this."

She said whatever decisions are made will be made in partnership with the Carroll County Education Association, which is the union that represents more than 2,000 teachers, guidance counselors and registered nurses employed by CCPS.

Recommended on Baltimore Sun

Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement