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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Maryland State Board of Education’s Newest Members Support Charters, Vouchers, High-Stakes Testing

by Genevieve Demos Kelley

Update on May 22, 2015: The post has been edited to reflect clarification received in response to a query about Bellwether Education Partners.

100_3383The Maryland State Department of Education has announced the appointment of two new members to the Maryland State Board of Education. Governor Hogan has selected Chester E. Finn, Jr., Ed.D. of Montgomery County and Andy Smarick of Queen Anne’s County to replace Charlene M. Dukes and Donna Hill Staton, whose terms ended last year.

Chester Finn is Chairman of the K-12 Education Task Force of Stanford University’s Hoover Institute. According to the Hoover Institute’s website, the Education Task Force promotes “systematic reform options such as vouchers, charter schools, and testing.” Click here to find analyses that Finn wrote for the Hoover Institute, generally avowing the importance of “results-based accountability” and testing. Finn is also President Emeritus of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a think tank with ties to the Gates Foundation that supports education reforms such as the Common Core State Standards, school choice, and accountability testing.

In January, Finn wrote an article for the New York Daily News praising Governor Cuomo’s education-reform agenda, calling it “awesome” and “union-unfriendly.” Cuomo’s agenda included “revamped (and tougher) teacher evaluations, more charters, a state-level version of the Dream Act,” but the item that Finn singles out for special attention is a tax-credit scholarship program for families to send their children to private schools. Praising the governor’s proposed voucher program, Finn writes that “school-choice advocates — and those who care more about the education of children than the interests of adults — should celebrate and applaud.”

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