Md. moves away from PARCC testing, toward new state exams

After being ranked Maryland's No. 1 public high school for the past three years, Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda slid off the rankings entirely, prompting some head-scratching by the school district. (Thinkstock)(Getty Images/iStockphoto/Thinkstock)

WASHINGTON — Next fall, when Maryland students head to class, they won’t be facing the PARCC exams, but they’ll still have to be ready for state-mandated testing.

The Maryland Board of Public Works voted 2-1 to spend $36 million to develop new tests for students in third through 11th grades in a five-year contract.

The board, made up of Gov. Larry Hogan, state Treasurer Nancy Kopp and Comptroller Peter Franchot, voted 2-1 in favor of the plan.

Franchot objected, saying he thinks the SATs should replace the PARCC exam at the high school level.

He told state Superintendent Karen Salmon, who was testifying before the board, “I think the SAT makes a lot of sense for people in ninth, 10th, 11th and 12th grades because they understand that this will be important to their future.”

Though Franchot said he could understand that some testing might have to be administered in third to eighth grades, he said he was not convinced that any test the state is considering would be any different from the PARCC.

Franchot said, “I think it has the same fundamental problems, which is that teachers will be educating to the test.”

Hogan told Franchot that he shared the comptroller’s concerns about “over-testing,” but noted that without some form of standardized testing to measure student performance, the state could lose federal money.

“We can’t afford to jeopardize $300 million in federal funds by saying we’re just not going to do tests. It’s just not an option,” Hogan said.

Salmon told the board members that the new exams will be designed to take half the time of the PARCC exams and would cost 13 percent less than current PARCC tests.

Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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