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New public school testing to start, as scheduled, Monday


State education officials say a massive new statewide publi school testing program will start, as scheduled, Monday, despite a call by the Maryland State Teachers Association to cancel the tests until they can be tried in the field and until teachers get more time to prepare.

The new tests, which will be taken for the first time by 162,000 third-, fifth- and eighth-grade students over an eight-day period, are intended to assess how well students apply what they learn.

But the tests use a far different format from traditional, multiple-choice standardized tests that students usually take, and the teachers' group is warning of "chaos in the classroom" unless the program is delayed.

Jane R. Stern, president of the 37,000-member group, yesterday sent a letter to Robert C. Embry Jr., president of the Maryland Board of Education, asking that the first round of tests be canceled.

"They're just not ready right now," said Stern yesterday. "The whole process is just rushed, not well thought out."

Stern noted that local school districts have been forced to buy materials at the last minute for the tests, including hand-held calculators. She also said the new tests will require changes in teaching, and that teachers need more time to get ready.

In her view, this fall is the earliest feasible time for the new tests.

"I think next fall is too fast, too, but it would be better than this," she said.

But Bonnie S. Copeland, deputy state superintendent, said last evening that the tests will go ahead, as scheduled.

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