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MSEA Launches Back-to-School Advertising Campaign to Reduce Standardized Testing

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Half Million-Dollar Buy Calls for Less Testing, More Learning

On August 31, 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.

“As educators, we know that standardized testing takes far too much time away from learning, preventing students from developing well-rounded skills and a love of learning,” said Betty Weller, president of the Maryland State Education Association (MSEA). “It’s time to reduce the amount of standardized testing and make sure that each and every one of our students comes to school engaged, excited, and ready to learn.”

The $500,000 advertising campaign will stretch through the month of September—as students begin their 2015-2016 school year—with two weeks of television ads in the Baltimore and DC media markets, two weeks of radio ads in Baltimore, three weeks of statewide digital ads, and four weeks of Pandora Internet radio ads. The television buys include cable in DC and both broadcast and cable in Baltimore.

The campaign will include a series of ads featuring educator stories from all over the state. The television spot—“Lost Time”—presents eight teachers and education support professionals who explain how much time for learning is lost to standardized testing, as well as how over-testing takes away the opportunity for students to learn about art, computers, and other subjects that give kids a well-rounded education.

“Anything that isn’t tested gets put on the backburner—it’s just test, test, test, and they’re taking away things that kids need,” the educators say in the ad. “Now it seems like there’s testing on top of testing on top of testing…when they’re subject to this kind of testing year after year, we can’t get that time back for our kids.”

A November 2014 Baltimore Sun analysis found that some Baltimore area students spent more than 40 hours each year taking standardized tests—in addition to untold hours of test-prep and practice tests. In many counties, this over-testing is driven by the excessive layering of locally mandated assessments on top of statewide tests like PARCC and the controversial Kindergarten Readiness Assessment. A new statewide commission is currently working on collecting the number of hours students spend on tests in each of the state’s 24 school districts.

On Wednesday night (September 2), Marc Steiner—host of the Marc Steiner Show on WEAA 88.9 FM—will moderate an MSEA town hall at Roland Park Elementary/Middle School in Baltimore City, where Baltimore area educators and parents will begin a community conversation about how to reduce standardized testing. The event will feature a panel of four educators: Matthew Vaughn-Smith, a reading specialist at Bollman Bridge Elementary School in Jessup; Erika Strauss Chavarria, a Spanish teacher at Wilde Lake High School in Columbia; Shirelle Jones, a teacher at Timber Grove Elementary School in Owings Mills; and Cheryl Colbert, the Individualized Education Program chair at Digital Harbor High School in Baltimore City.

Town Hall Details:
WHEN: Wednesday, September 2 at 6:30 p.m.
WHERE: Roland Park Elementary/Middle School, Multipurpose Room, 5207 Roland Ave, Baltimore

For more information about the campaign and to watch all of the campaign ads,