PGCPS Administration Suspends MUST Exams for Coming School Year

Teachers who have complained about too much standardized testing received a welcome announcement today. In a memorandum dated June 23, Deputy Superintendent Shawn Joseph announced that students would no longer be required to take Mandatory Unit Systemic 100_3401Tests (MUST) assessments. (See the full memorandum at the end of the post.)

Previously, both reading and mathematics MUST exams were administered at least twice during the school year to students, beginning in third grade and continuing through high school. (See one local middle school’s testing calendar here.) The recommendation to eliminate MUST tests came from the Assessment Cross-Functional Team, a team that was established by PGCPS to find ways to  reduce the amount of county-mandated standardized testing.

This announcement comes on the heels of last month’s decision by the PARCC Governing Board to reduce test time and consolidate testing windows. In the last legislative session, the Maryland General Assembly approved a commission to review Maryland’s standardized testing system.

See the full memorandum suspending the MUST assessments below.

Shawn Joseph, Ed.D.

Deputy Superintendent

June 23, 2015

TO:                     All Staff

FROM:               Shawn Joseph, Ed.D.

Deputy Superintendent for Teaching and Learning

PREPARED BY:          Yakoubou Ousmanou, Director of Testing

Gladys Whitehead, Ph.D., Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction

RE:                              Suspension of All MUST Assessments

The purpose of this memorandum is to inform you that effective July 1, 2015, Prince George’s County Public Schools (PGCPS) will suspend the administration of all Mandatory Unit Systemic Tests (MUST) assessments.

In an effort to effectively examine our county assessment practices and test administration in our schools, we established an Assessment Cross-Functional Team to review our testing calendar and program, and to make recommendations for the elimination, reduction, or suspension of assessments in Prince George’s County Public Schools.  The Assessment Cross-Functional Team’s discussion revolved around the elimination or suspension of some county assessments since it was not an option to eliminate any state-mandated assessments.

The following county assessments will no longer be administered in PGCPS schools effective July 1, 2015:

  • Mandatory Unit Systemic Tests (MUST) in Reading (Grades 3-High School) and Mathematics (Grades 3-High School)

PGCPS is committed to using relevant county formative and summative assessments that will help inform instructional practices and measure how much students know and need to know in relation to the Maryland College and Career-Ready Standards.  We are also concerned about the increasing number of tests that our students are expected to take during the school year; therefore, we will continue to examine our practices to determine what additional county assessments can be eliminated, reduced, or suspended in the near future.

If you have questions regarding this memorandum, please contact Dr. Gladys Whitehead, Executive Director of Curriculum and Instruction (, or Mr. Yakoubou Ousmanou, Director of Testing (

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