MCPS May Reduce Amount of Testing at Middle and High School

Montgomery County Public Schools students could spend less time taking tests next year.sat

Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) is considering changes to its assessment program to increase instructional time and reduce the time spent on testing.

As part of MCPS’ review of its overall assessment program, options for possible changes to final exams given in middle and high school were discussed with the Montgomery County Board of Education’s Strategic Planning Committee on Monday and will be presented to the full Board in July, according to a release from MCPS.

The options were developed in response to concerns expressed by the Board, students, staff, parents, and community members regarding the number of state and local tests given in MCPS and the amount of instructional time lost due to test preparation and administration, according to the news release.

In March, Board President Patricia O’Neill and Board Member Phil Kauffman, chair of the Policy Management Committee, sent a letter to Interim Superintendent Larry A. Bowers asking that the district consider changes to its testing program. Maryland State Superintendent Lillian Lowery has also asked all districts in the state to review their testing programs and the General Assembly has created a task force to research the testing load on public school students across the state.

“Assessment is an important part of any instructional program, but we must make sure our tests are providing meaningful data and are not taking too much time away from instruction,” Bowers said. “We look forward to discussing these options with the Board at their July meeting and making thoughtful changes that will benefit our students.”

Currently, middle and high schools are required to administer end-of-semester exams in many courses. These two-hour exams are given at the end of each semester, in January and June. MCPS has developed four options that would restore between two and four weeks of instruction during the school year and reduce the amount of testing while maintaining accountability measures for student performance.

You can read about those options here.

Gathering Feedback

The Office of Curriculum and Instructional Programs has used focus groups to engage numerous stakeholders, including employees, parents, students, and community members. This includes:

  • Elected teacher representatives from the Councils on Teaching and Learning, which gathered feedback from the teachers and staff in their schools;
  • Two focus groups of members from the Montgomery County Council of PTAs;
  • Curriculum advisory groups that represent teachers, administrators, and support staff;
  • Middle school and high school principals;
  • Student focus groups at two high schools and one middle school;
  • Members of the MCPS Latino Student Achievement Action Group and the MCPS African American Student Achievement Action Group, who participated in a focus group and submitted written feedback.

Members of the public who wish to provide their comments are asked to review the assessment options website and complete a short online comment form. All input should be provided no later than July 10, so that it can be reviewed prior to the Board’s discussion on Tuesday, July 14.

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