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Maryland Testing Commission not expected to make major cuts to hours of testing

Although it has yet to finish its work, a state testing commission is not expected to recommend major reductions in the number of hours Maryland's public school students are tested.

Statewide concern over the large amount of time students are spending on testing prompted the legislature to create a panel in 2015 to investigate federal, state and local testing requirements and make recommendations to the state Department of Education and the legislature.

The commission, which met on Wednesday in Ellicott City to write its report, did vote for some curbs to the current tests, including doing away with one middle school test that educators are planning to introduce in two years. The testing commission said the state should not require eighth graders to take a statewide social studies exam.

The panel also decided to recommend that the biology High School Assessment no longer be required for graduation. The test, now years old, will be replaced with a new science exam now being written. Panel members said they heard from educators around the state who said the biology exam did not test what is currently being taught in schools under the new Common Core standards. A new exam is expected to be in place in coming years that will test science skills in general rather than just biology.

Although some members of the panel had suggested that 11th grade students be allowed to decide whether they want to take the SAT or the PARCC test for the federally mandated 11th grade asssessment, the committee declined to approve that recommendation.

The commission will meet agin next week and then submitt a final report to the legislature, governor and state school board on July 1. Local school districts and the public can comment on the report during the summer.

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