Tuesday, February 18, 2020
US flag

Md. educators call for moratorium on MSA test

A few school system superintendents and teachers’ unions in Maryland have asked the state to stop the Maryland School Assessments that test third- through eighth-graders every year in math and reading, the Baltimore Sun reports.

The request, officially made to Dr Lillian Lowery, the Maryland state superintendent of schools, came only a day after scores on the tests were released to the public. As we reported, scores fell a little in almost every grade, especially in math.

“The MSA will not provide valuable information on how well students and teachers are doing,” the paper quoted Adam Mendelson, a spokesman for the Maryland State Education Association, the teachers’ union, as saying. Giving the test, he said, would only use up “valuable time from teachers and students who are trying to get the Common Core right.”

The MSA measures learning standards found in the old State Curriculum, but teachers have been asked to begin making a transition in their lesson plans to material found in a new set of standards, known as the Common Core. Some of the material in the old State Curriculum isn’t in the Common Core and might not be taught by teachers in the state. So, if teachers aren’t teaching some topics that aren’t in the Common Core and if the tests contain quite a few questions about those topics, kids can’t be expected to answer most of those questions correctly. Scores can be expected to go down.

The question is, What can we do about this?

A moratorium is not likely to occur, since federal law requires that students in grades 3 through 8 be tested every year. We can’t just break the law because our test isn’t aligned.

Waivers from some of the requirements in the federal law have been requested and granted, but never from the annual testing requirement in the law.

Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

Recent posts

Most detailed images ever of the sun

A new telescope at the National Solar Observatory snapped the most detailed pictures of the sun's surface we have ever seen.

Feds boost Bay funding

Restoration efforts in the Chesapeake Bay watershed received a boost in federal funding in the budget Congress passed last month.

Md. & IL bands perform on New Year’s in...

Bands from IL and Md. once again entertained thousands of people who lined the streets of London and Rome on New Year's Day.

Howard Co. sounds an under-staffing alarm

Teachers in a Md. district have filed a grievance over missing planning and lunch periods and, as a result, putting the most vulnerable students at risk.

Top 11 school stories of 2019

We find these 11 stories to have the greatest potential for influencing activity and direction in schools for the near future.

Girls’ volleyball champs in Illinois

We congratulate the Illinois state champions in girls' volleyball: Newark, St Teresa, Sterling, & Benet Academy.

A weekend of ‘band geeks’ across America

The musical Band Geeks was in performance at a MD high school, just as marching bands from across America named a national champion.

2 dead, 3 wounded in Calif. school shooting

Another school shooting has resulted in the death of 2 California high school students. The suspect shot himself and is in custody.

Mercury makes a transit; next in 2032

A transit of Mercury occurred today and was visible from the US, provided you had sunny skies. It was one of longest possible transits.

On the Naperville BWW racist incident

A racist incident at a Naperville, IL, sports bar indicates that the threads of racism are strong, perhaps as strong as ever.

IL bill could excuse absences to vote

A proposed law in IL could give students up to two hours during the school day so they could vote in the upcoming election.