Despite limited mental capacity, a feeding tube, a wheelchair and the inability to speak, a child with cerebral palsy must take the same standardized tests in Maryland as his classmates. But the Maryland State Education Association wants to give students with disabilities the chance to opt out of grade-level testing, depending on their needs, parents’ wishes and any testing accommodations allowed.
In Queen Anne’s County, second graders take 28 hours of locally mandated tests each year, the highest in any Maryland school system. In Montgomery County, they take just four hours of county required assessments but that number climbs to 23 to 26 hours by the time students are in high school. In Carroll County, high school seniors take 32 hours of required tests — not counting the statewide assessments — the highest amount in the state, along with Cecil County. In Howard County high schools, seniors take no locally mandated assessments. What do these numbers mean? A new commission on testing would like to figure that out.
Standardized testing is chipping away at “so many layers” of a public school classroom these days, a panel of educators said during a town hall meeting — taking away from teacher autonomy to curriculum and even technology hubs placed in schools to help students learn and connect to a high-tech world.
Even those who support the new Common Core education standards, such as school boards and the state teachers union, said the standardized tests scheduled this spring should be dropped since they’re not based on the new curriculum. But the State Department of Education says the move will jeopardize $289 million in federal funds.
The pandering cameras were on at the Maryland State Education Association in Ocean City Friday as four candidates for governor came seeking the endorsement of the largest union in the state with promises in hand.Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown walked away with the prize less from what he promised than for what he and Gov. Martin O’Malley delivered to public schools over the last six years — the most massive increase in funding in Maryland history, $1.5 billion more in school aid, 35% higher over six years.
Teachers could face salary freezes or eventual firing under a new evaluation system based on results of old tests that don’t match up with the new curriculum they are teaching. Maryland’s school districts are revamping their teacher evaluation guidelines as required by the Maryland State Department of Education.
At the same time, the state is implementing a new curriculum – Common Core, a state-led effort to make curriculum across the United States more uniform.
The rift between public and private education couldn’t be much larger than it is in Maryland, where the public schools are boasted about as number 1 in the nation and the private schools receive less state funding than several neighboring states.
“Looking at other states when it comes to education, Maryland state government provides significantly less to support private education,” said Mary Ellen Russell, executive director of the Maryland Catholic Conference.
Maryland teachers statewide could be required to pay union fees even if they are not members, according to legislation expected to be introduced this session in Annapolis on behalf of Maryland State Education Association (MSEA). The “fair share” fee is a top priority of the teachers union that represents about 70,000 people – or 80% of school employees.
The official website for expanded gambling in Maryland, VoteForSeven.com, has been inaccurately listing Prince George’s Sen. Paul Pinsky, as endorsing Question 7 to build a new casino in his county. The group took down the list of endorsements Tuesday.
Public employee unions, nonprofit groups and education advocates have been huddling in recent weeks to organize support for what they call “a balanced approach” to the continuing fiscal mess facing Maryland.