Annapolis, Maryland — This morning, the Commission to Review Maryland’s Use of Assessments in Public Schools posted their final report on how to reduce standardized testing to its Maryland State Department of Education website page. The recommendations now must be adopted or rejected by local school boards by September 1, 2016, and the State Board of Education by October 1, 2016.
MSEA President Betty Weller released the following statement:
“This is an important step in helping to reduce over-testing for our students. Thank you to the members of the Commission to Review Maryland’s Use of Assessments in Public Schools for their hard work to set the stage for further, broader reductions in testing. While educators are disappointed that the Commission process did not result in more immediate and far-reaching recommendations to lessen the time and resources spent on mandated assessments, we are encouraged by several of the ideas proposed and are eager to work with local school systems to put them into action.
“In particular, educators are excited about the recommendation that local school systems create District Committees on Assessments (DCAs) to complete a comprehensive review on all local mandated assessments and propose testing reductions to their school board for approval (pages 28-30). The vast majority of over-testing lies at the district level—in the form of unit, benchmark, and quarterly exams—and we encourage superintendents to implement this Commission recommendation with fidelity, transparency, and a sense of urgency.
“In order for this process to be successful, the DCAs should reflect the expert opinions of classroom teachers and support professionals who administer these mandated tests and understand their impact—or lack thereof—on student learning and instruction. School-level educators should not merely be consulted; they should have real decision-making power on these committees.”
The Commission made several other important recommendations, including:
Elimination of State Middle School Social Studies Test
“The creation of an additional assessment in social studies at the middle school level should not go forward.” (page 13)
Student Learning Objective (SLO) Reform
“The primary purpose of a standardized assessment may not be to attain an SLO…School districts should require no more than two teacher directed SLOs for the purposes of meeting the student growth requirements within the TPE.” (page 15)
Currently a component of the teacher evaluation system, an SLO is intended to be a teacher-designed metric that measures a student’s progress from point A early in the year to point B later in the year using portfolios, classroom work, homework, quizzes, or other teacher-developed assessments of growth. This recommendation helps to address educators’ concerns that the SLO process currently leads to excessive, redundant mandated testing.
Creation of a PARCC Advisory Stakeholder Group
“MSDE shall form a statewide practitioner stakeholder advisory group to the dedicated PARCC Project Manager assigned by PARCC. The group should include school-based educators and test coordinators, who will provide feedback on the PARCC reporting mechanisms, the assessment window and time elements related to preparing for and assessments and administering the assessments.” (page 17)
The Commission report can be accessed here: http://marylandpublicschools.org/commissiononassessments/docs/AssessmentsCommissionFinalReport072016.pdf