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More than a Score: Does amount of standardized testing disrupt other avenues of education?

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WBFF) -- Some Maryland legislators and education advocates are supporting bills before the General Assembly to reduce the number of standardized tests in public schools.

At a news conference held Thursday in Annapolis, the Maryland State Education Association and a bipartisan group of legislators said the number of standardized tests is disrupting the educational process.

Rachel McCuster, the Carroll County Teacher of the Year, who attended the news conference, said the growing number of standardized tests is taking its toll on students.

"They stop doing things, like class projects or experiments or field trips, all those things (become) limited because we need to have time for computer labs to prep for the test," said McCuster, who teaches music at Piney Ridge Elementary School in Sykesville.

The bills would limit standardized testing to two-percent of a school year's instruction time, changing the Kindergarten Readiness Assessment to a sampling test and eliminating the state's ability to mandate that districts include the PARCC scores in teacher and principal evaluations.

Delegate Eric Ebersole, a Democrat who represents Howard County and a career teacher, says, "Our kids' progress, our teachers' effectiveness and our schools' success are more than a test score. Let's reduce the role of testing in our schools in these evaluations so our kids have more time to learn and our teachers can focus on developing professionally and teaching effectively."

The Maryland State Board of Education has not taken a position on the several bills being considered to scale back on standardized tests. However, a spokesman says the board prefers to wait to examine the findings of a special commission appointed by Governor Larry Hogan earlier this year on standardized tests.

The commission is not expected to wrap up its work until this summer, and some educators say if the General Assembly does not act now, it could be more than a year before decisions are made on whether to reduce standardized tests.

Teacher Rachel McCuster says "I think our goal in public education ought to be to have well-rounded children who get lots of different experiences to prepare them for life."

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