Md. Teachers Launching Campaign To Cut Number Of Standardized Tests

COLUMBIA, Md. (WJZ) — Are Maryland students being tested too much? That’s the concern of thousands of teachers across the state.

Gigi Barnett explains teachers are launching a campaign to get lawmakers to cut the number of standardized tests in school.

The campaign is called “Less Testing, More Learning.” It’s simple, direct and straight to the point.

The MSA, the PARCC and the Kindergarten Readiness Test are all standardized exams designed to track student achievement in Maryland. That’s what lawmakers say.

But this is what teachers are saying:

“Now it seems like there’s testing on top of testing.”

And they’ve put it in a new $500,000 ad campaign, launching it at the start of the school year to send the message now.

“Our testing window is extravagant,” said Erika Strauss Chavarria.

Chavarria is a Spanish teacher at Wilde Lake High in Columbia. She joined in on the campaign because instruction time in her class has dwindled drastically.

And when there is no testing, she says students are always preparing for the next one.

“Last year, I had students, almost half the class for weeks at a time pulled out of my class, and I couldn’t get through my curriculum,” said Chavarria.

And that doesn’t include the stress of the test.

“They are stressed out. They’re exhausted. They are so sick and tired of sitting for so long. They’re just wiped,” Chavarria said.

Some parents say they’ve seen that, too.

“It’s a lot of stress for the children because they’re not understanding that it really doesn’t impact them grade wise, but they feel like does,” said Gwen Harley, parent.

Harley says she’s seen it in her fourth grade son, Harrison.

“It feels like you have to try and keep all that important, heavy information in your head,” he said.

Harrison’s not alone.

“I’m worried that if it’s for a grade, that I don’t know if I got any wrong or right,” said Aidan Flynn, student.

But some parents say tests will always have their place in school.

“We all grew up taking tests, too. And if it means money for our school, that’s another thing, too. I mean, standardized tests are there for a reason ,” said Richie Flynn, Aidan’s dad.

The state teachers union, which is paying for the campaign ads, have launched a commission to look at the exact number of hours that students spend on testing in every one of the state’s 24 school districts.

Last year, our media partner, The Baltimore Sun, discovered that some Baltimore students spent more than 40 hours every year taking standardized tests and practice exams.

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