Md. teachers testify: Some students can’t cope with standardized tests

WASHINGTON — It’s not the content; it’s the process. That’s what some teachers say is leading kids to dissolve into tears of frustration during the battery of standardized testing they’re facing in Maryland public schools.

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The teachers testified in Annapolis on Monday.

Children enrolled in special education classes are especially frustrated by the demands of the testing. Betsy Perry, a special-education teacher in Montgomery County, told a legislative commission that she’s seen students put their heads on their desks in defeat, or burst into tears, frustrated by sluggish computer responses as kids struggle to answer all the questions in the allotted time.

Perry also questioned the value of testing for some of her students, who have profound disabilities and whose education plans are focused more on life skills than meeting on-grade level goals.

“One student I worked with had cerebral palsy, was in a wheelchair, was nonverbal and had a feeding tube,” she told the panel. Yet that student, who struggled to move his head so he could tap a “talk” button on a computer, had to take a 25-question standardized test.

Perry joined other teachers and officials with the Maryland State Education Association who told the commission that the number of tests students are required to take affect everyone in a school — even kids who are not being tested.

Perry said her students were hurt when she was pulled from her classroom to serve as a proctor somewhere else. She explained that she spent “countless hours” revamping the tests so that her students with special needs could take the exams, which also had to be videotaped.

The teachers and the union spoke before Gov. Larry Hogan’s Commission to Review Maryland’s Use of Assessments and Testing in Public Schools. The testimony came just days before the General Assembly convenes on Wednesday.

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