Montgomery County Schools interim superintendent Larry Bowers, who pushed to scrap final exams in the state’s largest school system, is one of a dozen appointees named by Gov. Larry Hogan (R) to participate in a commission to review whether students in Maryland are overtested.
The 19-member panel, which also includes the Acting State Superintendent of Schools Jack R. Smith, will begin meeting next month.
The commission was created under legislation, approved earlier this year, to review the use of assessments and standardized testing in the state’s public schools. Parents, teachers and students across the state and country have criticized the number of tests students are required to take and the effect the tests have on instruction time.
Earlier this year, the Montgomery County school board voted to get rid of final exams amid concerns about overtesting and loss of instruction time.
Hogan, who has questioned the amount of testing, said he hopes the commission’s work will help to get “our students back on track.”
“When schools and teachers are forced to overemphasize standardized tests in the classroom, they deprive students of the kind of quality education they deserve,” Hogan said in a statement. “It is clear to most Marylanders that we are overtesting our students and the process needs to be greatly improved.”
The state teachers union has made reducing the number of tests students take a priority for the upcoming legislative session.
The other appointees include: Principal of James Hubert High School in Montgomery County, Christopher Berry; Mark Newgent of Howard County; Laura Potter with the Maryland State Education Association; Alohaa Chin with the Baltimore Teachers Union; Leon Frison from Kent County; Julie Hummer with the Anne Arundel County school board; Garrett County School Superintendent Janet Wilson; a parent from Montgomery County, Laurie Halverson; a parent from Worcester County, Karen Prengaman; an education expert from Queen Anne’s County, Andrew Smarick; and a District resident and former middle school teacher in Maryland, Nathaniel Malkus.
Berry will serve as commission chairman.
State Board of Education member Guffrie M. Smith Jr was appointed to the panel by the president of the Board of Education; Sens. Nancy J. King (D-Montgomery) and Paul G. Pinsky (D-Prince George’s) were appointed by the Senate President, and Dels. Eric D. Ebersole (D-Howard) and Shelly L. Hettleman (D-Baltimore County) by the House Speaker.
Hogan still has to appoint one person, a certified teacher, to the panel.