The Maryland State Board of Education voted on Tuesday for a two-year delay in requiring that high school students pass new standardized tests in order to graduate.
This year, students in grades 3 to 8 and in English 10 and Algebra I will take the new tests, developed by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and based on the national Common Core State Standards.
Prior to Tuesday’s action, the new tests for English 10 and Algebra I were required for graduation. Under the new plan, students still will have to pass the courses to graduate, but will not have to pass the tests, state officials said.
The graduation requirement will go into effect during the 2016-2017 school year.
The action reverses a decision the state board made in July to implement the new test requirement.
“Our two-year plan will allow our students and teachers to become more knowledgeable in the more rigorous standards during the transition,” said Mary Kay Finan, the board’s vice president.
Maryland joins other states, including Massachusetts, that have either decided to delay the transition to the new tests or opted not to make them a graduation requirement this school year.
Since the board’s action earlier this year, some local district officials have raised concerns about holding students accountable during the transition to the new tests.
Montgomery County school leaders sent a letter earlier this month to state officials expressing their concern, and they asked for a two-year delay. They questioned why the state would delay the use of the results from the new tests in evaluating school personnel, but would require students to pass them to graduate.
Bill Reinhard, a spokesman for the Maryland Department of Education, said the decision to delay the requirement has “been in the works for some time.”
He said State Superintendent of Schools Lillian M. Lowery has been in discussions with local superintendents and school board officials about the transition to the new tests.
“This was just a sensible approach,” Reinhard said. “We have to prepare everybody for moving forward.”
Reinhard said a similar action was taken when the state High School Assessments, or HSAs, were rolled out years ago.