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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Teachers and lawmakers from both parties highlighted measures Thursday to reduce standardized testing demands in schools.
Del. Eric Luedtke, D-Montgomery, is sponsoring a measure to limit the amount of time that could be devoted to federal, state and locally mandated tests for each grade to 2 percent of a school year's instruction time.
"It's no secret that we have a real problem in this state, much like the rest of the country, with overtesting our kids in school," said Betty Weller, president of the Maryland State Education Association, adding that too much standardized testing has become a top concern for voters in Maryland when it comes to K through 12 education.
A separate bill would change the statewide kindergarten assessment now administered to measure school readiness to be limited to a random sample of kindergarten students from within each local school system. It also would prohibit a standardized test from being administered to a prekindergarten student.
"I think it's very vital, especially to these kids at such a young age when they have so much to gain with every minute that they have in the classroom in learning," said Sen. J.B. Jennings, R-Harford.
Another measure would end the state's ability to mandate that districts include PARCC scores in teacher and principal evaluations. PARCC stands for Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers.
"You think testing is too much of a focus for schools now? Just wait until schools have to tell the teachers that their PARCC scores are the basis for whether they get a positive evaluation," said Del. Eric Ebersole, a Democrat whose district includes parts of Howard and Baltimore counties.
Rachel McCusker, a music teacher at Piney Ridge Elementary School, said tests have become the central focus of schools.
"The focus of the last 15 years of testing has snowballed into what seems like anything but a common sense approach to education," said McCusker, who is Carroll County's teacher of the year. "Our students face standardized tests beginning at age 5, and it doesn't let up until they graduate. Students are inundated with mandated county, state and national exams in all subjects."
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