Comprehensive Tests of Basic Skills to be Administered Statewide to Students in Grades 2, 4, and 6

November 15, 1999
Students in grades 2, 4 and 6 will have a new statewide assessment test to take this spring when the Comprehensive Tests of Basic Skills (CTBS) are implemented.

Administration of the tests statewide in Maryland was approved by the State Board of Education last July. The State Board and the state superintendent of schools are implementing the tests-developed by CTB/McGraw Hill for use across the United States to provide a national reference point for comparing the achievement of students in Maryland.

Superintendent Jerry D. Weast recently withdrew a request for a waiver of the CTBS, made earlier last summer, so the school system could begin to take the steps needed to prepare for the spring implementation of the statewide assessment, consistent with the mandate by the state.

"The reasons for originally requesting the waiver are outweighed now by the need for our students to participate in a statewide assessment that provides a national benchmark of student achievement," Weast said.

The CTBS will be administered to all students in grades 2, 4 and 6 next March 22 and 23. It will provide data for individual students and schools. The Maryland General Assembly has approved $1.2 million to implement the assessment statewide.

The implementation of the CTBS will increase the test burden on students and staff at the elementary and middle school levels, Weast noted. Students in grades 3-8 take the MCPS Criterion-Referenced Tests (CRTs), grades 3, 5 and 8 currently participate in yearly administration of the Maryland School Performance Assessment Program, and grades 7 and 8 take the Maryland Functional Tests.

The Committee on Assessment, Design and Implementation is looking at the CRT test structure to see what can be done to mitigate the testing burden, according to Jose Stevenson, coordinator of the testing unit in the Department of Accountability and Research Evaluation. For example, in the reading/language arts area, the CTBS is the same as the norm-referenced Metropolitan Achievement Test that Montgomery County has been using as the reading component of the CRTs. The committee will look at this and other possible overlaps and hopes to develop recommendations within the next month.

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