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Should Standardized Testing Be Capped? Maryland Exploring Options

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There's a widespread perception that students today spend too much time on standardized tests.
Shannan Muskopf: https://flic.kr/p/cGco5N
There's a widespread perception that students today spend too much time on standardized tests.

Maryland's teachers union is offering several recommendations to reduce the amount of standardized testing students must take.

Both Republican Gov. Larry Hogan and Democratic leaders of the General Assembly agree the amount of time schools spend on tests is excessive. That's why they created a commission to look at how to reduce the amount of time students spend preparing for and taking tests.

While that report is being prepared, Shawn Johnson of the Maryland State Education Association suggests a cap. It's similar to what the Obama administration proposes on the amount of time each school year spent taking tests — 2 percent

"If you apply that standard here in Maryland, that's still a lot of testing. It's still over 21 hours of testing. But we think that's a good starting point to focus school districts on reducing the amount of time spent on testing," Johnson says.

Johnson also says the state's kindergarten assessment test should not be given to all students.

"The value of that test is really to determine the value of pre-K programs. Whether having pre-K before kindergarten makes you ready or not. It's not necessary to give that type of test with that goal in mind to every student," Johnson says.

The commission isn't scheduled to finish its report until this summer, too late for the General Assembly to act on it this year. Part of the reason for that long timeline is the federal government, the state, and school systems each have their own mandated tests. Any reduction in testing must not interfere with any of them, which lawmakers are finding is a very fine line to walk.

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