Standardized testing takes far too much time away from learning, preventing students from developing well-rounded skills and a love for school. Standardized testing takes away the opportunity for students to learn about art, music, finance, and physical education—subjects that keep kids engaged and give them a well-rounded education.
And it’s not just the tests themselves—hours upon hours of test prep, practice tests, and even “pretend tests” to check testing technology results in fewer class projects and field trips and more stressed out and burned out students. Students in Maryland will take more than 200 standardized tests during their time in school—with totals exceeding 50 hours a year in some grade levels.
Educators know that too much standardized testing doesn’t help their students do better in school—or in life. In a recent poll, 95% of Maryland educators—a near-unanimous consensus—said that there’s too much standardized testing in schools. That’s why we are strong proponents of guaranteeing that more time is spent on learning and instruction and less on testing.
Our Work with the General Asembly to Reduce Over-Testing
Following our Time to Learn efforts in the 2015 General Assembly session—including passing a bill to form a statewide Commission to Review Maryland's Use of Assessments in Public Schools—MSEA launched our Less Testing, More Learning campaign to highlight the need to reduce mandated standardized testing. By empowering the voices of teachers and education support professionals in TV, radio, and digital ads, letters to the editor, press conferences, and media interviews, as well as emails, phone calls, and lobby meetings with legislators, we moved the testing issue squarely onto the General Assembly’s to-do list.
We scored some important wins for our students, including changing the highly disruptive and largely unhelpful Kindergarten Readiness Assessment to a sampling test, vastly reducing the number of kindergarteners and their teachers affected by the test; requiring school districts to publicly disclose all mandated tests and how much time they take away from instruction each year; and unanimously passing a bill in the House of Delegates to limit mandated standardized testing at 2% of annual instruction time. The latter bill did not pass in the Senate, which wanted to wait for recommendations from the state testing commission.
The key recommendation from the commission was for districts to create District Committees on Assessments—which would bring educators, parents, and district officials together to study existing assessments and decide on ones that weren’t necessary. But just five districts accepted that recommendation, with many saying there was no local problem, despite the fact that for every hour of state mandated testing, there are five hours of district mandated testing.
It’s time to put an end to over-testing and guarantee less testing and more learning for our students. In 2017, educators are asking legislators to pass three key bills to reduce over-testing:
- The Less Testing, More Learning Act of 207 (House Bill 461/Senate Bill 452), which would set a 2% cap on the amount of instructional time that could be used annually for mandated standardized testing. Click here to email your legislators and ask them to support the bill.
- The Protect Our Schools Act of 2017 (House Bill 978/Senate Bill 871), which reshapes how Maryland judges its schools to emphasize test scores less and incentivize schools to focus more on things like school climate, class and caseload size, and offering a broad, challenging curriculum. It also prevents Gov. Hogan and his State Board of Education from doubling down on using test scores to identify public schools as failing so they can convert them into charters schools or close them down in favor of private school vouchers. Click here to email your legislators and ask them to support the bill.
- House Bill 548/Senate Bill 667, which enacts a moratorium on the Early Learning Assessment, which is being piloted in pre-k and Head Start classes this year, and which requires hundreds of hours of data entry for payoff in improving or informing instruction.
How You Can Help
You said students need more time to learn. Now you can fight for it when it matters most—as legislators in the General Assembly debate a package of bills designed to reduce testing and boost the instructional time all educators need and want.
“Standardized testing is taking more and more time away from learning. The average student sits for more than 200 tests throughout their time in school, with some students taking more than 50 hours of testing a year. This is an urgent problem that requires immediate action and we applaud Democratic leadership in the General Assembly for joining our effort for less testing and more learning," said MSEA President Betty Weller.
“The Every Student Succeeds Act is a game-changer for Maryland students and their schools. After more than a decade of being held back by counterproductive federal requirements, Maryland will have a real opportunity to focus on proven ways to provide opportunities for every student and reduce the burden of over-testing," said MSEA President Betty Weller
Maryland educators launched a statewide back-to-school advertising campaign to push for a reduction in standardized testing. The campaign—named “Less Testing, More Learning”—features ten teachers and education support professionals from across Maryland who share their firsthand experiences of how over-testing makes it more difficult for their students to learn.
“Kindergarten teachers flagged numerous problems with the KRA, including the significant loss of instructional time, the test’s developmental appropriateness, inadequate technology support, and the test’s inability to inform and improve instruction for students,” said MSEA President Betty Weller. “We stand ready to partner with state leaders to ensure that teachers have time to teach, students have time to learn, and assessments serve as effective tools in the classroom.”