Visit our New Maryland PTA Online Store!
Encourage, Motivate and Inspire!
Maryland PTA is pleased to offer our new Online Maryland PTA Store! Just click on the link below and browse
through our merchandise! New Spring Merchandise has arrived!
Maryland PTA Online Store
Check out our Special Sales below!
January ~ May - Volunteer Recognition
As the Spring begins, many PTA Units are looking at the end of the school year for
specific items to recognize board members and volunteers. We offer several traditional
PTA officer lapel pins, appreciation certificates, Thank You greeting cards and
more, so showing your PTA gratitude is a snap. With our Custom Shop awards, we
even offer individualized plaques or gavels.
Many items can be customized to reflect your PTA's name and mascot! Be sure to check out the customized
department for school spirit wear, including tshirts, sweatshirts, jackets, etc!
Top 10 Things Parents Need to Know About Testing in Maryland!
National PTA Update on Common Core State Standards Assessment and Accountability Guides for Maryland!
PTA Maryland Assessment Guide 2013
These new resources will be a valuable tool as we begin to transition to the new Common Core aligned assessments
in the coming years, and is an
important companion to the original
Parents’ Guide to Student Success which goes more
in depth on the standards. National PTA grants permission
for the above to print
and distribute these guides for the purposes of educating parents and
the public about Common Core and the new assessments
and accountability plans.
Your Child and the Maryland School Assessment (MSA)
By Lillian Lowery, Ed.D., State Superintendent of Schools
This school year, Maryland implemented 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 over 40 other states. The new standards provide
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 implement new State assessments developed by the Partnership for
Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC). These assessments will replace the current statewide tests, including the Maryland State
Assessment (MSA). The MSA in reading/English Language Arts (ELA) and math will be given for the last time in grades 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 in March.
The final administration of the MSA will provide a snap shot of achievement that is disaggregated by racial and student services subgroups. For example,
if English Language Learners at school A are doing better than those particular students at school B, we’d like to know about it and understand why.
can use this information to target instruction, ensure students are proficient in reading and math, and address any gaps in learning during the transition
to higher standards.
Routine and regular assessment for all Maryland students in the tested grades has served our State well and we will continue that policy in this transition
year. In addition, the federal Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), requires all students in grades 3-8 be tested every year in reading and math.
Annual testing is important to help ensure that all students are making progress.
As we give the MSA this spring, we will simultaneously field test the new PARCC exams in a classroom or two in nearly every school. The field test is an
opportunity to “test the test” – to see how well the test works, determine the quality of questions, and make any necessary adjustments before it is given to
all students in school year 2014-15. Those students participating in the subject-area field tests will not take the same subject-area MSA tests. For example,
if a student participates in the PARCC field test for fourth-grade mathematics, that student will not take the MSA fourth-grade mathematics test, In other
Maryland’s focus is on maintaining our educational progress, boosting improvement, and continuing our transition to a more rigorous curriculum designed
to strengthen college- and career-readiness. Keeping the MSA test for one more year is not a perfect solution, but it is a sensible one.
Finally, I encourage all parents to support their students by encouraging them to tryout the sample questions for grades 3-5, grades 6-8 and high school by
logging onto www.parccconline.org.
PARCC test questions measure deeper learning, critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Compare existing test questions and see the difference for yourself
. I invite you to make this transition year a family learning opportunity. Thank you for all that you do to support Maryland students.
Maryland’s New Tests: The Next Step in Measuring Student Learning
By Kristin Addleman
What an exciting time for education! As a teacher with a deep passion for teaching and learning, I truly believe Maryland’s College and Career-Ready Standards,
built on the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), will ensure our students are ready for success after high school. The Standards, being implemented this year
throughout the State, establish clear, consistent guidelines for what every student should know and be able to do in math and English language arts from kinde-
rgarten through 12th grade. As a result of these new standards, a group of states have come together through a shared commitment to develop an assessment
system that accurately measures college and career readiness.
The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) is a major topic of conversation for anyone with an investment in the educational
system. Every newspaper and website has reported their version and highlighted the positives and negatives to this new assessment. Since field-testing of the
PARCC has begun, many of the misconceptions and questions circulating through the public are being clarified and answered. As a reading specialist and a
parent of school-aged children, the direction of education is extremely important to me. Having the opportunity to be trained and administer the PARCC Field
Assessment was a priority for that reason.
Preparations for the PARCC Field Test began in each Anne Arundel County public school building in January when homeroom classes were randomly selected
to participate. Throughout the months of January and February, teachers, students, and administrators have been preparing for this field test “practice” assessment.
This included the school computer tech that worked very hard to install the necessary systems and test our network capabilities. Updates and new information
became available as testing ensued to further promote a smooth administration. Any issues were solved and all questions and the PARCC testing were answered quickly.
Every year, I see students entering elementary school with major proficiencies in technology. Our students need a new assessment to test them the way their brain
works, with movement, pictures, and even typing. It is our responsibility to give that to them!
Once I administered the PARCC Field Test and witnessed the students manipulating the assessment and associated tools, my anxiousness about their capabilities
of typing proficiently, reading and scrolling through text, and manipulating the online tools were relieved. The students had no problems and knew exactly what they
were doing! They were actually motivated and excited to take the assessment on the computer. As part of the field assessment, students were asked a few survey
questions at the conclusion of the assessment, including if they preferred the computer-based assessment over the traditional paper and pencil format. Every Marley
Elementary student emphatically stated they preferred the computerized format.
The PARCC Field Test is doing exactly what it was created to do - test the test. Educational stakeholders hold some concerns of the feasibility of a computer-based
assessment. Anne-Arundel County Schools implemented a paper and pencil format and a computer format so the PARCC consortium and test vendors have as much
information necessary to guide them as states fully implement the PARCC assessment to all third through eigth grade students in the upcoming school year.
Kristin Addleman, NBCT
Anne Arundel County Reading Teacher
Marley Elementary School
A Step Forward for Maryland’s Student Assessment Program
By Amanda Hughes
While no standardized test can ever truly measure all that a child has learned or can do, the new Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC)
assessment represents a vast improvement over the Maryland School Assessments (MSA). Both teachers and students are ready for this welcome shift.
As a middle school English teacher in Baltimore County, I participated in the PARCC English Language Arts field test this year. Students were adequately prepared for the
PARCC assessment. All year, the English teachers have been delivering curriculum that is fully aligned with Common Core and designed to prepare students to be successful
on PARCC. In addition, students participating in the field test completed a PARCC tutorial, which allowed them to familiarize themselves with the format of the test and the resources available to them. Teachers involved in the field testing were fully trained on how to administer the test. The field test allows test developers to make changes and receive feedback before PARCC is fully implemented next year.
The test itself is a more authentic measure of student achievement. Each multiple choice question on PARCC has two parts – one which requires students to select an answer, similar to MSA, and a second which requires students to select the evidence that supports their answer choice. This addition of a second part helps measure students’ thought processes rather than their ability to simply fill in the correct bubble, regardless of whether or not they know why that answer is correct. In addition, the PARCC assessment includes interactive technology items which require students to actively manipulate text, such as dragging and dropping details to form a coherent summary. These tasks demand more critical thinking than the traditional multiple choice questions.
The MSA did not include much writing. PARCC also involves extended written responses, including questions requiring synthesis and narrative writing. Students are no longer confined to a small box in which they must develop an answer; the answer box on PARCC has no limit. This allows students to demonstrate more sophisticated thinking and writing than was ever allowed on MSA.
In addition to the question types, PARCC makes several resources available to students on the computer based test, such as a highlighting tool, incorrect answer strikeout, a glossary of terms, and a read aloud function. In today’s world where students have almost unlimited access to resources such as these in their daily lives, it does not make sense to deny them access to these aids in a testing environment. In fact, the ability to use such resources appropriately is an important skill that standardized tests should measure. Again, PARCC improves on MSA, which did not offer all resources to students unless they were enrolled in a special education or ESOL program.
The more rigorous nature of PARCC will mean that results will not be comparable to those of the MSA. The percentage of students scoring in the proficient range on PARCC is likely to be lower at the outset of implementation.
It is my hope that this does not cause people to give up on the test or write off the Common Core standards. Ultimately, this test is a more authentic assessment of student learning which requires critical thinking, allows for divergent thought processes, and provides students with appropriate resources.
While students are ready to show what they know, we need to give students and teachers time to rise to these expectations. It is a step in the right direction for our education system, and this teacher welcomes the change with open arms.
Amanda Hughes is an English Language Arts(ELA) teacher at Lansdowne Middle school.