Press Release: Maryland Receives ESEA Waiver Approval From U.S. Department Of Education

Flexibility Granted to Avoid Double-Testing; No Federal Sanctions with PARCC Field Test

For Immediate Release                               

Contact: Bill Reinhard, 410-767-0486, 443-670-7072 (cell)

Baltimore, MD (February 14, 2014)

State Superintendent Lillian Lowery announced today that Maryland’s  waiver request was approved by the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) to avoid double-testing and hold schools harmless for one year from federal accountability sanctions when field testing new state assessments this spring.

“I am very pleased that our federal partners understand the need for flexibility to avoid double-testing students this school year and to allow schools to transition smoothly to the new Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) statewide assessments in 2015,” Lowery said. “We will continue to communicate with educators and parents as we continue the transition from the current Maryland state assessments to the PARCC assessments, and prepare for full implementation of the new online PARCC assessments next school year, 2014-2015.”

The Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE), in collaboration with Maryland educators and leaders, requested a waiver from certain provisions of federal law – the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) – to field test new PARCC assessments in nearly all schools. MSDE applied for additional flexibility in making accountability determinations in response to USDE’s invitation last year to states to develop new accountability systems for measuring student achievement growth and school-level progress over time.

The waiver was granted with certain conditions. They include having all students in tested grades take the PARCC field test in reading or math, or the current Maryland School Assessment (MSA) as required by ESEA. Other conditions include:

  • Reporting assessment performance  against Annual Measurable Objectives (AMOs) when a subject is not being field tested;
  • Reporting student achievement on the MSA;
  • Notifying all schools and systems of their participation in the PARCC field tests;
  • Ensuring notification to all parents of students in each school participating in the field tests, explaining implications of their school’s participation in the field test, and notifying parents of whether their children will participate in the field test; and
  • Administering the new PARCC reading/language arts and mathematics assessments for all students in the grades required during the 2014-2015 school year.

This school year, Maryland educators began full-scale implementation of new, higher standards for student learning in all schools across the State. The Maryland College and Career-Ready Standards are based on the Common Core State Standards, which were adopted by Maryland and more than 40 other states. Maryland adopted the new standards in 2010 to begin providing students with the relevant, real world knowledge and skills needed for success in college and careers. In order to measure student mastery of the new standards next year, Maryland will fully implement new PARCC assessments – which will replace the current MSA statewide tests. The MSA will be given in reading/English Language Arts and math for the last time this spring to continue providing important information on student achievement and proficiency.

To prepare families for this transition, MSDE has compiled and is encouraging all stakeholders to share the 10 most important things parents need to know about state testing:

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