Maryland slashes ‘overtesting’ of students, addressing bipartisan concern

overtesting

Maryland students will officially see less testing next school year.

On May 25, Gov. Larry Hogan signed into law the More Learning, Less Testing Act, limiting testing to 2.2 percent of the year in Maryland public schools — 23.8 hours each school year in elementary and middle school and 25.7 hours in high school. An exception is eighth grade, where testing is limited to 2.3 percent of the school year — 24.8 hours.

“Today is a huge step in rolling back the disruptive and counterproductive over-testing culture in our schools,” said Maryland State Education Association President Betty Weller in a release. “By eliminating more than 700 hours of unnecessary district-mandated testing across the state, our kids will get back days — and in some cases weeks — of instruction time to learn well-rounded skills and gain valuable problem solving ability. We thank legislators for their leadership on this issue and for listening to educators, parents, and students.”

Both the House of Delegates and the Senate passed the act unanimously.

All three local school systems do not think they will have any issues complying with the ordinance.

“We are aware of the Less Testing, More Learning Act, and we have examined the testing practices set forth in it,” said Carrie Sterrs, Worcester County schools spokeswoman, in a statement. “We foresee no issues in Worcester County Public Schools regarding complying with this legislation.”

Wicomico County schools, too, has said it will not have any issue meeting the new requirements.

The county reviewed its testing one year ago, and found that the amount of testing within the district already fell below 2 percent, said Wicomico County schools superintendent Donna Hanlin in a release.

“We will continue to evaluate our assessment schedule at every grade level to ensure time spent on assessments is time well spent, and that assessments support our focus on instruction,” she continued. “We believe assessments are an important part of instruction, particularly when the assessment results can be immediately evaluated and used to guide effective learning for our students.”

Somerset County Superintendent John Gaddis said in a statement he does not see the new law being an issue but had been concerned about the amount of testing done in schools.

He added he is looking forward to moving on.

“We have made sure our assessments are used to collect data that will inform decisions made by our teachers to benefit our students,” he said in the release. “We have worked closely with our teachers association to limit the number of assessments and make sure the assessments that are given, are of high quality and high use.”

The bill comes after a 2015 survey conducted by the Maryland State Education Association that showed 50 percent of Maryland voters, the highest percentage of those polled, said the biggest issue facing education in the state was too much testing.

Six hundred Maryland voters from across the political spectrum were concerned with the amount of testing, with 64 percent of those polled saying Maryland spends too much time on testing and 69 percent saying too much emphasis is placed on testing.

The issue was a bipartisan one, drawing nearly equal numbers of Republicans, Democrats and independents saying overtesting is an issue.