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Legislation would likely drop MSAs at Maryland schools

Emergency legislation has been submitted in the General Assembly to put an immediate stop to the Maryland School Assessment test.

The legislation would require the state to request a waiver from the U.S. Department of Education to excuse Maryland from administering the MSA test in spring 2014.

If state education officials do not receive a waiver or a response, the bill requires state officials to forgo the tests unless they find that the penalty linked to canceling the exams is greater than the savings or benefits.

House Bill 117 is being led by Del. Eric Luedtke, D-Montgomery. Its companion bill, Senate Bill 165, is being led by Sen. Nancy King, D-Montgomery. Both bills have bipartisan support.

The MSA tests are designed to measure how well individual schools are doing in meeting state and federal goals. To administer the tests, it costs the state $6 million.

Last year, Anne Arundel County school officials blamed a drop in math and reading scores in elementary schools on a "misalignment" between MSA exams and the new federally required Common Core standards. The standards change what is taught and how it's taught.

Next year, the plan is to replace the MSAs with tests that align with the Common Core.

But the legislation could mean MSAs will be gone before then.The legislation is not yet scheduled to be heard in a House or Senate committee.

The hearings will likely come before the Anne Arundel County delegation is scheduled to hold a meeting on Common Core on Jan. 28 in Annapolis.

Interim schools Superintendent Mamie J. Perkins and Henry Johnson of the state Department of Education will give a presentation at the meeting, which is scheduled for 8 p.m.

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