Nearly two-thirds of voters in Maryland who participated in a recent poll commissioned by the state teachers union say they are frustrated by the number of standardized tests given to students.
The poll, released Thursday by the Maryland State Education Association, found that 64 percent of voters said too much time is spent on standardized tests in classrooms and only 27 percent think that testing is “an important tool” to measure how well students are doing.
Voters also ranked the focus on standardized tests as the top concern facing public education in Maryland above funding, classroom sizes and school choice.
“Educators have been telling us all year that they are frustrated that students don’t have time to learn and that they don’t have time to teach,” said Betty Weller, president of the Maryland State Education Association. “We do too much testing in public schools.”
Weller said the teachers’ union plans to make reforming Maryland’s standardized testing policy a top priority over the next year. And it will use the poll findings to show that frustration over the tests cross party lines. For example, 73 percent of Democrats and 71 percent of Republicans said they think that schools should limit the amount of time administering standardized tests.
“This is a top concern that we all need to work together to remedy,” Weller said.
The poll, conducted by GBA Strategies, was of 600 voters on May 12-17, by land line and cellphone. It has a margin of error of plus or minus four percentage points.
The poll comes on the heels of a decision by the governing board of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), which is responsible for a college readiness test that is aligned with Common Core and given in Maryland, 10 other states and the District of Columbia, to shorten the test next year and reduce the number of times it is given during the year.
The board made the decision after months of outcry over the test from parents and teachers across the country who refused to allow their children to take it and who refused to administer it.
The findings also come as a legislative commission studies how much time school districts spend administering local, state and federal assessments and the purpose of the tests. The number of benchmark tests taken by students varies by school district.
Earlier this year, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) said he thinks students are over-tested.
The governor also offered some concern at the time over the PARCC test, indicating that he “might push the pause button on it.”
But Hogan has never taken any action toward halting the tests.
And earlier this month he appointed two new members to the state Board of Education who support Common Core, but a spokesman said his position on PARCC and Common Core has not changed.
“Governor Hogan has said that we need to examine the merits and shortcomings of Common Core and carefully consider whether it’s the best option for our students,” Erin Montgomery, a Hogan spokeswoman, said in an e-mail. “His team is undertaking a comprehensive review of Common Core and the PARCC assessments at this time.”
Both of the new members appointed to the state board are strong proponents of charter schools. Hogan pushed hard for a bill this year to expand the number of charter schools in Maryland. The measure was watered down, eventually passed by the legislature and signed by the governor.