Quarter 1 standardized testing generates more stress for students

The reopening of schools this year has reestablished a key aspect of the student learning experience: standardized testing. Students and staff at Poolesville High School (PHS) were greeted with a state-required month-long testing window, between September 27 and October 22.

This early fall, students from various grade levels were required to complete Measure of Academic Progress (MAP) testing, the Maryland Comprehensive Assessment Program (MCAP) for either English, language arts (ELA) or mathematics, as well as the Maryland Integrated Science Assessment (MISA.) In addition, students took the Preliminary SAT (PSAT/NMSQT).

The assessment duration at PHS greatly affected the daily schedules of students, where several periods were missed staying at their assigned testing locations spread across the building. Members of the student body expressed frustration at the amount of time being consumed by assessments, and the pressure being placed upon themselves.

“Having MAP-M right after doing MCAP on PSAT day was horrible,” says Arjun Rao, a freshman in the Global Ecology program. “Pressure like that definitely had an impact on the [accuracy and] reliability of the tests, so more has to be done if possible to space out the tests.”

Although standardized testing this fall received the brunt of the criticism from members of PHS, others communicated ideas for a more flexible and less restricting timetable in the future. The instructional leadership team at Poolesville has been in charge of such a plan.

“We’re considering a different schedule so that students aren’t necessarily being pulled from classes, but that all students are engaged in something whether it’s testing or non-testing,” said Ms. Angelica Rivas-Smith, the assistant principal of the school. “That way, after that testing block is over, all students can participate in classes. “

The reason for this duration’s plans lies in the Maryland State Department of Education. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic’s interference with in-person instruction, tests from the 2020-2021 school year were postponed until this year.

Assessments this school year do not call for a passing score in order to meet graduation requirements. In the future however, a passing score will be necessary.