MD General Assembly unanimously passes Less Testing, More Learning Act
"This bill will give students more time to prepare for the jobs of tomorrow," explains Snow Hill teacher Everett Evansky.
The entire Maryland General Assembly agrees with Evansky, a Worcester County Teachers' Association PACT Chair and that's why the House and Senate unanimously passed the Less Testing, More Learning Act Monday.
The legislation will limit mandated testing throughout the school year, something Evansky says is a great step forward for the state's public schools.
"What it's going to do is give teachers more time to actually prepare kids for the test. It's not really fair to keep cutting the funding to schools and then wonder why the test scores go down." says Evansky.
This legislation lowers mandated testing to 23.8 hours in elementary and middle schools and 25.7 hours for high schools, except in eighth grade when the limit is 24.8 hours.
According to Maryland's Department of Education this would significantly reduce over-testing by 730 hours across 17 districts each year.
Although Maryland just voted for less testing in schools, Dan Domenech, the executive director of the nation's School Superintedent's Association says much of the country still isn't on the same page when it comes to cutting back on what he calls rigid high-stakes testing.
"We're doing it wrong. Instead of working with the children, as individuals, and making sure that they progress at their own pace…we're constantly weighing them," explains Domenech.
Domenech says setting a cap, limiting the time students spend taking tests, is outlined in the Every Student Succeeds Act, which was signed into law in December 2015 and goes into effect in September.
Although it will continue to require annual tests in grades 3 through 8 and once in high school the legislation takes steps to reduce testing.
"We keep testing the kids as if that's going to make any difference…and it doesn't. What will make a difference is providing each child with the resources and the education that they need to be happy and to make progress."