Eighth Grader Asks Maryland Board of Education for Less Standardized Testing

A Prince George’s County eighth grader testified at a recent Maryland State Board of Education meeting, asking for a reduction in the amount of standardized testing for Maryland students. The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the views of Prince George’s County Public Schools or its members.

My name is Katherine Grace Harness. I am an 8th grader at Kenmoor Middle School. I have been taking standardized tests since second grade. They have become a way of life. However with the addition of the new PARCC test, people everywhere have woken up to the excessive 100_3370amount of standardized testing. We need to reduce the number of standardized tests. Fifty-five out of one hundred and eighty school days are taken up with standardized tests, not counting the unit tests each teacher may give. That means more than a quarter of the school year is taken up with testing. We take at least six different standardized tests.

Standardized tests are used for getting data. This data is not being used for improving student instruction; it merely says if students are on grade level or not. It does not diagnose the problems in the classroom students are having so that teachers can help them. It does not improve education.

If we had less standardized testing, more time could be spent on each unit to ensure that everyone understands the chapter before moving on. I know there have been things that I wish the teacher had given more time to. In science, my teacher has a list of experiments we did not get to do because that time was taken up testing. Students who cannot go to school every day spend the time that they can go to school making up testing and not actually learning in the classroom. Students that need accommodations often have to test after the rest of the students, so they miss valuable instructional time.

If we had less standardized testing, we could spend money on other things. States spend about 1.7 billion dollars on standardized testing annually. 1.7 billion dollars is a lot. This money could be spent on things such as new programs for the schools, new materials, maintaining our school buildings, increasing teacher salaries, and much more.

One thing that can be done to fix that problem is to combine all the tests into two or three tests. If the county, the state, and the country work together than we can get the data we need without taking up as much school time. We need to lower the amount of standardized testing.

Go here to read the related Washington Post article, “Maryland Voters Express Frustration Over Standardized Testing in Schools.”

2 thoughts on “Eighth Grader Asks Maryland Board of Education for Less Standardized Testing

  1. Amelia says:

    This is fantastic! Thank you so much for sharing your perspective. You brought up so many issues that people who aren’t in the schools probably don’t think about. In particular, with so many people right now in PG county focused on the school budget and how the money is spent, I think the point about how much of our tight budgets go to pay for standardized tests is a really really good one.


  2. demosgen says:

    It’s important to point out that the Brookings Institute study that came up with the $1.7 billion figure was published in 2012, before the recent increase in standardized testing that we’ve seen over the last couple of years in Maryland.

    I’d argue that the $1.7 billion amount is an underestimate and fails to take into account hidden costs. For example, at the March PGCPS Board of Education meeting, a reading specialist at an elementary school testified that the majority of his time is spent coordinating standardized testing in his school. Though his school does not have an official testing coordinator position, his salary is, in large part, being used to fund standardized testing efforts. From what I hear, this is very typical of local schools, yet the money spent on these unofficial testing coordinator positions don’t get calculated into estimates of the cost of standardized testing.


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