It was approved on the last day of the 2017 Md. General Assembly.
Annapolis, Md (KM). On Monday, the final day of the Maryland General Assembly session, the State Senate approved the More Learning, Less Testing Act. This legislation reduces the number of tests students need to take during the school year.
“We have been fighting to reduce the amount of testing our students take throughout the year which interferes with instructional time,” says Cheryl Bost, Vice President of the Maryland State Education Association, and an elementary school teacher in Baltimore County. “So this is great win. And students will have more time to get a better rounded education instead of taking tests all day.”
The legislation, already passed by the House of Delegates, mandates testing to 2.2% of the school year, or 23.8 hours in elementary and middle schools, and 25.7 hours in high schools, except in 8th grade where the limit is 2.3% or 24.8-hours.
“That doesn’t take away testing that teachers do for quizzes and things like that to assess where students are. But it takes away the overuse of so many mandated tests which take instructional time and students and teachers away from good instruction,” says Bost.
The bill also establishes District Committees on Assessments for each school system, which brings educators, parents and other local stakeholders to consider which tests to administer to students. “This will allow a commission in each district to say which tests are useful and needed for students, and which can go by the wayside,” Bost says.
She says, in her experience as teachers, too much testing can have an adverse affect on students. “It diminishes the love of learning. As an educator, we go to school to develop good instruction and really to instill a love of learning in our students. And instead they come in and they get dragged down because there is a test,” says Bost. “We’ve even had teachers say that students get physically ill because they’re taking a test and they feel the stress of that all the time.”
The bill now heads to Governor Larry Hogan for his consideration. If he signs it into law, the measure will take affect July 1st, 2017, and be implemented during the 2017-18 academic year.
Bost says this legislation passed unanimously in both Houses with bipartisan support. “It shows everyone in the state realizes that we have too much testing. We need to curtail that somewhat so we can get back to instructional time,” she says.
By Kevin McManus