Md. students begin new testing in March

WASHINGTON — Maryland grade and high school students will face new-generation statewide testing starting next month that will measure their progress based on Common Core-type standards.

Students in grades three through eight and high school students who have taken Algebra 1 and English 10 will take the new tests starting the first week of March.

The new assessments, which replace past statewide tests, are designed to measure students critical thinking, communications and problem solving.

“I would like the parents to know that we’re going to have far more information about their students than we’ve ever had before,” says Lillian Lowery, Maryland state superintendent of schools.

Lowery says the new assessments are designed to give teachers a deeper understanding of a student’s strength and weaknesses.

“This new assessment allows us to look at every item on the test that the student took and get the information about the areas where the students did well and where there’s needed improvement, so we don’t have to guess the next year,” Lowery says.

About 75 percent of the state’s students will take the tests online. Success in the Algebra and English 10 assessment is scheduled to be a requirement for high school graduation in the 2016-17 school year. For now, students just have to take the test.

The tests will gauge how well Maryland public school students are doing under the new education approach called PARCC, Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers. Like Common Core, PARCC standards aim to ensure that when kids graduate high school they are fully prepared for college or the workforce.

Critics of Common Core and PARCC-type standards argue that they are an attempt to impose a national curriculum on local schools.

Lowery says the new state standards will help students compete globally.

“Proficiency is proficiency whether we’re in the United States of America, China, Finland or Russia. If we want our students to be globally prepared, to be globally competitive then we need to determine what they should know and be able to do and that’s what these standards do for our students,” Lowery says.

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