The Maryland State Board of Education voted on Tuesday, May 10, to incrementally raise the passing score of the state’s standardized testing required to graduate from public high school.
The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) exams, scored on a scale from one to five, will now require a passing score of three. By the 2019-2020 school year, however, that score will be raised to a four.
This new standard means that thousands of students across the state will struggle to reach graduation. In fact, if the new standard had been in effect last year, over half of students in Baltimore County would have failed the math exam and 35% would have failed the English exam.
Maryland teachers are concerned that they will not be able to provide students with the individual attention they need to be fully prepared for the exams. A large portion of students will be taking the tests multiple times, and many will be likely to use a loophole that allows them to do a project instead of sitting for an exam. With so many students taking on projects, more time will be required of teachers to work with students on a one-on-one basis.
The state of Maryland has required high school students to pass exams as a requirement to graduate for nearly 20 years, and officials say that every time the tests were made harder, students were able to meet the challenge. However, the new PARCC exams have been designed to test a student’s preparedness for college-level classes, which is a much higher standard than the previous Maryland High School Assessments (HSAs).
Standardized testing has been a staple among public educators since the mid-1800s, but their application skyrocketed following 2002’s No Child Left Behind Act, which mandated annual standardized testing in all 50 states.
Standardized tests are used in other educational spheres beyond the public high school setting. States require stock brokers to obtain licensing by taking the Series 7 and Series 63 exams, and lawyers are required to pass the bar exam. While many people oppose the practice of standardized testing in high schools, others argue that it is a fair and objective measure of knowledge and achievement for any field of study.