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.

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PARCC Testing in a Prince George’s County High School

We’ve been hearing a lot lately about how today’s standardized testing schedules can impact student morale and classroom instruction. However, the problem goes deeper than just the individual student or even classroom. The following is one teacher’s account of how testing works at her local Prince George’s County High School. Individual schools may vary in how they schedule state-mandated exams.

classroomTeaching schedules can affect many more students than just the ones being tested at any given time. Teachers can be assigned to tasks outside the classroom even while their students are not being tested. And because classrooms at the high school level are not necessarily segregated by grade, some students in a given class may be tested while others aren’t. During that time, a teacher has to determine the best way to make sure all her students are being presented with the same material.

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PARCC States Vote to Shorten Test Time and Simplify Test Administration

An update from the PARCC website.
Washington, DC (May 21, 2015) — The PARCC Governing Board, made up of the state education commissioners and superintendents, voted Wednesday to consolidate the two testing windows into one and to reduce total test time by about 90 minutes beginning in the 2015-16 school year.  The vote came in response to school district and teacher feedback during the first year of testing and a careful review of the test design.

A Day in the Life of a PARCC Test Administrator

How does a PARCC test session impact the school day? An hour-long test session can result in several hours of lost instructional time.

PARCC Day Blogpost 2For middle school students, the PARCC test consists of nine sessions, which vary in length. Though actual testing time lasts no more than 90 minutes per session, the impact on the day’s schedule is dramatic. One middle school teacher in Prince George’s County has painted a picture of a typical day of PARCC testing.

On the day described in this post, the teacher is assigned to proctor a room full of 8th graders who are taking a 60 minute PARCC session. Note that for each middle school grade level, this scenario is repeated on 27 different days — nine times for each grade level. (In a previous post, we published the testing schedule for the middle school described here.)

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One Local Middle School’s Testing Calendar

A local middle school teacher has created a calendar to demonstrate how her school has scheduled the tests required by Prince George’s County and the state of Maryland into the 2014-2015 academic year. Out of 180 school days, 55 days feature some sort of standardized testing (loosely defined here as mandatory non-teacher-generated tests) scheduled for some subset of students in the school.

The calendar for the entire school year is posted below. Scroll to the end for brief descriptions of mandatory tests.

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AP Exam Participation Increases, 40% of All Passing Exams Are from Eleanor Roosevelt HS

by Genevieve Demos Kelley

Over a six year period, Prince George’s County has made small but significant gains in performance on Advanced Placement exams. The percentage of AP exams receiving a score of 3, 4, or 5 in 2014 is virtually identical to what it was in 2008 and slightly higher than it was in 2013: 27.5% in 2008, 26.3% in 2013, 27% in 2014. However, over the same time period, the percentage of 9th-12th grade students taking an AP exam has steadily increased from 11.4% in 2008 to 16.8% in 2014. This represents a 47% increase in the participation rate and a 25% increase in the raw number of students taking AP exams. This is certainly good news for the county: a comparable passing rate with a much larger percentage of participating students.

The percentage of exams receiving a score of 3, 4, or 5 (usually considered to be passing scores) is still much lower than national and state averages. By a large margin, the passing rate for AP Foreign Language exams (73.7% in 2014) exceeded that of all other subject categories.

Of the 23 high schools in the county sytem, only Eleanor Roosevelt High School’s AP exam passing rate (63.3%) equaled or exceeded the Maryland state average (61%). Eleanor Roosevelt HS accounts for 40% of all exams in PGCPS receiving a grade of 3, 4, or 5.

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Laurel HS Teacher Testifies at Board of Education about PARCC Testing

The following was presented as a public comment at the Prince George’s County Board of Education meeting on March 26, 2015. The views expressed are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Prince George’s County Advocates for Better Schools.


Good evening. Thank you for giving me this opportunity to speak tonight.

I am Cheryl Davis and have been involved in education for over 25 years.  I am an English teacher at Laurel High School (with 13 years of experience teaching Advanced Placement English); I have been a business writing consultant; I have been an adjunct professor; and I have even been a home and hospital teacher. This year and last, I have seen more disruption in the education of my students–caused by  poor Common Core Standards implementation and unreasonable testing requirements–than I have in over two decades  of teaching. Continue reading