Reductions Made in Testing Program To Save Time and Eliminate Redundancy Among Local and State Assessments

November 14, 2000
A significant change in the use of Criterion-Referenced Tests (CRTs) in reading and mathematics will be made this spring to eliminate redundancy with state assessment tests and reduce the amount of time devoted to testing in the Montgomery County Public Schools.

The modification will streamline the entire assessment program, following the implementation this past year by the Maryland State Department of Education of the new Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills (CTBS) in Grades 2, 4 and 6. The national test is in addition to the Maryland School Performance Assessment Program (MSPAP) in Grades 3, 5, and 8.

Both of the state-mandated tests overlap with a portion of the locally required CRTs in the same grades and created the opportunity to scale back part of the CRTs without disrupting the continuity of the overall assessment program. Dr. Jerry D. Weast, superintendent of schools, reported to the Board of Education this week that a staff review identified 10 areas where the CRTs could be reduced.

"We are maintaining all testing components that provide schools, parents, and the school system with specific information about students if such information is not available elsewhere," said Dr. Weast. "This will guarantee continuity in our system and allow parents and schools to continue to monitor individual student progress in mathematics and reading each year."

The reduction will cut testing time in classrooms by a minimum of one hour per grade in Grades 3, 5, 7, and 8 and by 2.5 hours in Grades 4 and 6. In addition, significant time for giving directions and handling materials prior to and after testing will also be saved.

The CRTs will still be given in Grades 3 through 8 but portions will be eliminated in each grade level. In reading, the reductions include multiple choice questions in Grades 4 and 6, the open ended questions in Grades 3, 5, and 8, and the extended writing sections in Grades 4 and 6. In mathematics, the multiple choice questions in Grades 4 and 6 will be cut. All other sections will remain the same.

The most recent results show that students last spring continued to make gains on the CRTs and established performance levels well above the national average on the first administration of the CTBS. The results of last spring's MSPAP will be released later this month.

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