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Educators Applaud Democratic Legislative Leaders for Plan to Address Over-Testing This Session

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Democratic leaders in both House and Senate to introduce package of legislation to reduce standardized testing in schools

Annapolis, Maryland — Today, Democratic leadership in the House of Delegates and Senate announced plans to introduce a package of legislation aimed at reducing standardized testing in Maryland schools. The bills come after parents, educators, and students voiced concerns about the loss of instruction time and narrowing of curriculum—including a television ad campaign launched by the Maryland State Education Association (MSEA) during the start of the 2015-2016 school year.

“Standardized testingis taking more and more time away from learning,” said MSEA President Betty Weller. “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.”

The move by Democratic leaders stands in contrast with Gov. Larry Hogan, who announced on last Wednesday’s Marc Steiner Show that addressing over-testing is “not a priority” for his administration this year.

Read the full release by Democratic leadership below:

ANNAPOLIS, MD – Today, legislative leaders announced their plan to act on legislation to improve educational testing in Maryland. Members of the General Assembly have been working throughout the interim on concerns of overtesting across the State.

During the 2015 legislative session, under the leadership of Education, Health and Environment Affairs (EHEA) Vice Chairman Paul Pinsky and Delegate Eric Ebersole, the General Assembly created the Commission to Review Maryland’s Use of Assessments and Testing in Public Schools. The Commission is charged, among other things, to make recommendations on improving the administration of standardized tests, identifying the most effective testing methods, and how to use test results to inform instruction.

“The Commission will continue to meet to work out many of the details important to educators and local school systems,” said Vice Chairman Pinsky. “However, we believe some progress can be made this legislative session without losing another year for students.”

The Commission was not able to begin its official work until November, however, a group of Democratic lawmakers including Senator Pinsky, Delegate Ebersole, EHEA Chairman Joan Carter Conway, Budget and Tax Vice Chairman Rich Madaleno, Senator Nancy King, House Majority Leader Anne Kaiser, and Delegates Shelly Hettleman and Mary Washington.

“We have identified some essential legislative initiatives to advance during this session, focusing on parental notification before and after testing and best practices to effectively use testing,” said Delegate Ebersole.

Legislation this session will take advantage of new authority in the reauthorization of the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) to apply for grants to develop innovative assessment options beyond standardized tests.

“Testing and assessing students has a valuable role in education, but we need to use these tools to improve educational instruction and teaching methods for individual students, and developing the most effective curriculum for a 21st century economy,” said Delegate Kaiser.

The Commission will continue its work with recommendations due at the end of 2017 for final implementation.