Today, Gov. Larry Hogan signed the unanimously-approved More Learning, Less Testing Act (SB452) into law. The legislation limits mandated testing to 2.2% of the year in Maryland public schools—or 23.8 hours in elementary and middle schools and 25.7 hours in high schools—except in eighth grade, where the limit is at 2.3% or 24.8 hours.
Maryland State Education Association President Betty Weller, a middle school science teacher from Kent County, released the following statement:
“Today is a huge step in rolling back the disruptive and counterproductive over-testing culture in our schools. By eliminating more than 700 hours of unnecessary district-mandated testing across the state, our kids will get back days—and in some cases weeks—of instruction time to learn well-rounded skills and gain valuable problem solving ability. We thank legislators for their leadership on this issue and for listening to educators, parents, and students.
“But we are fooling ourselves if we believe this solves the entire problem. Maryland should be a leader not only in reducing testing, but in advancing new hands-on ways to assess students through performance tasks and portfolios that better fit within our students' everyday learning. Even as we celebrate a big step today, we must keep our focus on more comprehensive action to improve student testing in Maryland."
According to Maryland State Department of Education data from last school year, students in 14 Maryland school districts took 30 hours or more of standardized testing. The average Maryland student takes more than 200 standardized tests during their time in school, taking away 250 hours from instruction. The More Learning, Less Testing Act would significantly reduce this over-testing by eliminating 730 hours of standardized testing across 17 districts each year.
The legislation establishes District Committees on Assessments, bringing educators, parents, and other local stakeholders to the table to consider which district-mandated tests to keep, shorten, or eliminate. It also changes the state-mandated middle and high school social studies test into a performance-based assessment—an innovative, hands-on way of measuring student success beyond the traditional standardized test.