Maryland State Board of Education postpones testing until Fall


On March 4th, Maryland State Board of Education (MSDE) voted that students will not be taking standardized tests in the Spring, and to delay the tests until the Fall for the 2021-2022 school year.

The vote came only ten days after Maryland’s State Superintendent Karen B. Salmon told the Board that she approved offering the assessments this Spring to any student in grades three through eight in math and english, as well as some high school students, whether they learned in person or at home, as described in an article by The Baltimore Sun.

With the usual year it has been, it has not been easy to facilitate these tests during a virtual setting. Parkdale Testing Coordinator, Ms. Lenora Scott, provided information on how testing may be accomplished in the Fall. Especially for the rising Seniors in the 2021-2022 School year, it is salient to familiarize ourselves with how procedures may come into play. 

“In some cases, this will be a case by case answer. However, please note that since MCAP testing was cancelled for Spring 2020, students who took the courses and passed the courses received a waiver for the assessments,” said Ms. Scott. “There is still some clarification needed for students who took the test prior to Spring 2020 but did not pass the assessment. All students currently taking these assessments are responsible for meeting the testing requirements for these assessments. MSDE is still working on providing clarification for the Class of 2022 and 2023.”

She explained that once clarification is made, principals and testing coordinators will be informed on how to proceed forward.

Although these standardized tests have been postponed, it would not be fair for students to take these assessments knowing the gap in between the school year due to the pandemic and reviewing at least a year’s worth of material can be overwhelming, and MSDE may understand this in part.

“MSDE is aware of this issue and they share the concern; however, MSDE needs to know where students stand and how much has been lost by way academics due to the pandemic.  One way to gather this data is to assess students,” said Scott. “I cannot speak for MSDE at this point in terms of required test scores, but if the pattern persists, there is always the possibility of students receiving a participation score as in previous years.”

For many students, mainly this school year’s juniors like Mahlet Dagnachew, testing in the Fall will come with great pressure.  Specifically for the Class of 2022 who were sophomores when the global pandemic shut down school buildings, these students would be two school years behind their tenth grade year when they are supposed to be tested in English, math, social studies and some sciences.

I don’t think it’s fair that testing is a graduation requirement because firstly, every student retains information differently and some people simply don’t do well on standardized testing due to the format and timing. Secondly, during a pandemic our main concerns should not be about standardized testing, it will not lighten the load that students already have about school.

— Mahlet Dagnachew, PHS junior

From a student perspective, it is not fair for them to add more time into tests that should’ve been taken already. It becomes disadvantageous for students who don’t review the material knowing it is a graduation requirement.

However, Advanced Placement (AP) students can not be forgotten. AP exams are getting closer and closer, yet most students haven’t grasped the material they need to feel prepared in order to pass the exam.

The College Board has provided all subject areas with daily videos called ‘AP Daily’ which provides an overview of the topics included in each subject area,” said Parkdale AP Testing Coordinator Shellie Davis. “Students can use this as a study guide for units where they may need additional assistance. There are also various activities through the College Board’s new AP classroom platform where teachers can assign students additional study questions, videos, and test prep materials to assist them. Lastly, we have been dedicated to defining what Wednesday small group instruction will be like, specifically for our AP students.”

While finding other resources to prepare for the exams may be helpful, will students be able to learn through these resources more effectively than in their own virtual classroom? College Board has  released new regulations that would be followed in terms of this year’s exam where you can see here. There will be the option to stay virtual or even go to the school and take the exam. 

“Students who remain in a virtual setting should be able to test at home. With the return of in person teaching and the hybrid model, mandates for schools and testing are changing daily,” said Davis. “The best thing for students and parents to do is consistently check communication that is sent to their homes from the district and updates from me for our current exam status”.

Additionally, there have even been controversies about the College Board having camera’s on during the virtual tests, however the AP Exam Administration Planning Guide was revised and updated on February 10 removing “computer must have a camera”  as a requirement on their website. 

It’s difficult to imagine students already going through the year in this virtual setting keeping up with their grades, along with other standardized tests to prepare for. It already seems unfair for students to have the thought of passing these tests as a graduation requirement.