Snow means some new state testing dates in Montgomery County

This week’s snowfall meddled with the schedule for MSA (Maryland School Assessment) testing in Montgomery County. Tests were supposed to begin Monday, but with school closings Monday and Tuesday, testing starts Wednesday.

The delay means that reading test dates for grades 3, 4 and 6 are at the end of the test cycle, rather than at the beginning.

The full schedule:

• Grades 5, 7, 8 Reading: March 5 and 6, as planned.

• Grades 3, 4, 6 Math: March 7 and 10, as planned.

• Grades 5, 7, 8 Math: March 11 and 12, as planned.

• Grades 3, 4, 6 Reading: March 13 and 14, newly scheduled dates.

The tests follow an unsuccessful effort by elected leaders and parents in Montgomery to get this year’s MSAs scrapped. They had argued the exams are out of line with the new Common Core standards being taught in classrooms, lack purpose and take away important instruction time.

Superintendent Joshua P. Starr wrote a letter to parents in February saying that while he believes giving the MSAs is not in the interest of students or schools, federal law requires the state to administer the tests, so Montgomery will do so for a final time.

There are no accountability requirements or consequences linked to this year’s MSA results, he said.

Next year, Montgomery and other school systems are expected to administer tests aligned to Common Core standards. Those tests, called PARCC exams, are being field tested this year. Randomly selected students in each school will take PARCC tests, rather than MSAs.

Donna St. George writes about education, with an emphasis on Montgomery County schools.
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