MSA Test Changes Concern Some Parents

FREDERICK, Md. - Every spring, Maryland Public school students take the Maryland School Assessment (MSA) test in reading, math and science. This is the last year the MSA test will be used as the department of education transitions to a new assessment system. 
But as WHAG's Kirstin Garriss found out, has changes have caused some concerns for parents in the area. 

"I thought it was foolish to have her tested on things she's not learning so that's why i refused to have them test her," said Cindy Rose, concerned Frederick County Public School (FCPS) parent. 

Tuesday was Grace Rose's first day back at Brunswick Middle school, after missing four days during MSA testing period. Her mother, Cindy Rose, didn't want her taking the test. 

"She's in school all day long i get a report card that says she's an honor roll student, why isn't that a measurement of how well the school is doing?," said Rose. " Why is it that other level of measurement? Instead of letting the teachers teach, and letting the students learn and taking these reports and saying here's there scores, this is how well they're doing. Why does there need to be another level of testing." 

The MSA tests elementary and middle schools students in reading and math based on the federal requirements set by the No Child Left Behind Act. 

This year, the Maryland State Department of Education is piloting a new assessment system called the PARCC which will align to the recently implemented common core state standards but the test wasn't ready for this spring 

"We did not want to lose a year of testing. We did not want to have students that are prepared for a test every year not test this year. There's evidence that really backfires. You have to keep, you have to keep the rhythm going," said William Reinhart, Maryland State Department of Education. 

During this transition, state schools must administer the test but parents and students can refuse to take it. 

"We respect each family's, each parent's right to make decisions about what's best for their children. At the same time we have obligations about state mandated testing and for us its about communication and collaboration," said Michael Doerrer, FCPS Spokesman. 

Since Grace's mother didn't want her to take the test, she was required to stay home during the 12 day testing window and complete make up work. A situation her mother wasn't happy with. 

"Because I think the test only takes 90 minutes. So for 90 minutes for four days they were going to have her be out for 12 days and I didn't think that was a fair way to handle the situation," said Rose. 

Although some parents might not agree with the test, state officials say this year's tests results will be beneficial for future assessments. 

"It's a piece of information that can be used to help principals, help parents understand where a child is, help teachers understand where a child is, how well their instruction is connecting with a child," said Reinhart. 

The MSA doesn't affect a student's overall grade or whether they move on to the next grade level. 

The MSA testing period ends this Friday and the PARCC pilot testing will begin in a few weeks for about 20 to 30 students per school in Maryland. 

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