Board of Education member Marcy Canavan, who has voiced concerns about the number of standardized tests given to Prince George's County students, withdrew proposals this week to eliminate three of the exams.
Saying that the board should launch a full-scale discussion of standardized testing, Canavan agreed to the withdrawal when it became clear the proposals had little support at a regular board meeting Monday night.
"These particular tests are not really the issue. The issue is the amount of testing," Canavan said.
The school system's testing calendar lists 29 standardized exams that take from 90 minutes to several days to complete. The time spent on preparing and taking such tests, including four required by the state for high school graduation, has drawn concern from some educators.
Canavan's proposals would have eliminated a visual materials test that measures elementary pupils' ability to use charts and graphs, and a middle school test on vocabulary and reading. Neither exam is required by the state or county, and testing officials said plans are already under way to phase them out. Canavan's plans would have prevented teachers from deciding to use the test when individual circumstances merited their use, a factor board members Doris Eugene and Catherine Burch said prevented them from supporting the proposal.
It also would have eliminated the California Achievement Test given to 11th graders every other year. It is given annually to second, fifth and eighth graders.
Superintendent John A. Murphy challenged plans to eliminate the CAT in the 11th grade, citing its importance as a yardstick of how county high school students compare with others around the country.
"We can't talk accountability on the one hand and eliminate these measurements on the other," Murphy said.