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Testing: “Useless” Results?

For years, Maryland’s state government has mandated that students in grades three through eight take the Maryland School Assessment (MSA), a test designed to see how students from different schools fare in math, science, and reading. This year, however, with the petitioning of Blake High School teacher Tiferet Ani, the exam might be canceled.

In a statement made on the site of her MoveOn petition, Ani explained that as Maryland switches to the Common Core State Standards, which require a different test, the results from the MSAs will be outdated and useless. “Our testing coordinators have literally been told the scores won’t be looked at or matter,” wrote Ani on the petition.

Despite strong support from parents and students, education officials disagree that the MSAs should be canceled. State Superintendent Dr. Lillian Lowery asserted that it is not possible to cancel this year’s MSAs, regardless of support. Maryland State Department of Education spokesman William Reinhard agreed, saying that local districts have no flexibility over whether to administer the MSAs. Over the past few years, Maryland schools have dramatically adjusted their curricula to meet the new Common Core State Standards. As a result, most elementary and middle school students are now taught material that’s very different than what the MSAs will test. Although Maryland schools will administer new Common Core exams starting next school-year, the federal government requires standardized testing to continue for the remainder of this year.

Currently, Ani has almost 800 signatures on the petition, about 80 percent of her total goal. However, many people signing the petition remain unaware of what the petition actually supports. One person from Prince George’s County described her reason for signing the petition as “some students are good at doing work, but not good at taking tests,” not realizing that the petition was to cancel this year’s MSAs and not to wholly eliminate standardized testing.

Nevertheless, the petition has sparked controversy, as students, teachers, and school officials try to determine whether this year’s standardized testing is actually beneficial.

The petition can be found at http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/cancel-the-msa.fb40?source=s.fb&r_by=6832994.

Article by Hannah He, MoCo Student staff writer

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