Better schools? Try less standardized testing

Providing more money for schools won’t matter if the money is wasted (“Maryland education commission’s ambitious proposal for new state aid for schools is delayed another year,” Dec. 19). This session. the General Assembly should grab the low-hanging fruit of limiting, by statute, Maryland State Department of Education testing to one day a year. This law would save millions of dollars while improving public schools.

Nothing prevents Maryland from meeting our federal testing requirements in a single morning except the arbitrary decisions of the entrenched testing bureaucracy and their for-profit contractors. MSDE’s excessive and inequitable testing requirements will disrupt 34 days of instruction at my high school this year. The new Maryland Comprehensive Assessment Program (MCAP) requires more time than the current High School Assessments (HSAs). Third graders could complete both the SAT and the GRE in less time than they spend on MSDE’s tests.

If colleges and graduate schools think three hours is enough testing to assess a prospective student’s eligibility for admission, then three hours per year is enough state testing for any child. Maryland schools could reallocate the testing budget to build, air condition, heat and staff schools. Recovered resources could be used to educate our children and return Maryland to a “world-class” level.

It’s no wonder 60 percent of Maryland students fail MSDE assessments when so much instructional time is disrupted and so much funding is squandered because of the self-interested whims of non-elected bureaucrats. I hope the one-day-a-year testing limit makes sense to The Sun’s readers and that we all remind our elected officials that the decision is up to them, not up to the Maryland State Department of Education.

Jonathan Roland, Nottingham

The writer is a Baltimore County Public Schools teacher.

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