Students weren’t created to take tests. Tests were created to assess students. Accordingly, Tiferet Ani, a social studies teacher in the Quince Orchard cluster, has a great idea.
The state is phasing out the Maryland School Assessments in favor of the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness of College and Careers test, which won’t arrive until next year. Students are scheduled to take the MSAs — a grueling process that can eat up as much as an entire week of a student’s schooling — in the spring even though the data won’t mean much.
Ani has started a petition on MoveOn.org calling on the state school superintendent, Lillian Lowery, Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Joshua Starr, state lawmakers and Gov. Martin O’Malley to refuse to administer the test.
“It is an outdated test, the scores will not be looked at, and it is a waste of taxpayer money and instructional time for students,” her petition reads. More than 700 people have signed the petition.
Ani, a seventh-year teacher, offers her students — and the adults charged with overseeing their education — a great lesson in common sense. Why force children to take a useless test?
That question might seem rhetorical, but it has a direct answer. The students must take the test because federal law says they must; at least, that’s the reasoning from the Maryland State Department of Education.
The Elementary and Secondary Education Act, a major piece of legislation from LBJ’s “War on Poverty,” requires that certain students be tested each year on reading and math with a state-approved assessment, state education department spokesman William Reinhard told Gazette reporter Lindsay A. Powers.
Reinhard insists the MSA is not a useless test. “It’s imperfect, but it’s important to continue testing students,” he said.
Starr has been a vocal critic of placing too much value on standardized tests. We urge Starr, bolstered by Ani’s lesson in common sense, to convince federal education regulators that Maryland kids deserve a break from the tests.