By Amanda Burdette
BALTIMORE – Six of 10 Maryland teachers surveyed believe the state’s controversial assessment testing program is helping students, according to a poll released Tuesday.
Nearly 72 percent of the 417 teachers surveyed supported the goals of the Maryland School Performance Assessment Program and 59.7 percent said they believed it helped educate children.
The poll of kindergarten through eighth grade teachers, conducted this summer by Mason-Dixon Campaign Polling for the Maryland State Teachers Association, was outlined at Tuesday’s State Board of Education meeting.
Karl Pence, president of the teachers’ union, said he was not surprised by the results, adding that disagreements about the program have always been over details, not the program itself.
The survey also found that 43.5 percent of the teachers believed parents do not support the program.
“There is a very significant lag in the quality of communication with the parents,” Pence said. “I don’t think we are building public confidence.”
Nancy S. Grasmick, state superintendent of schools, said the school system is “continuing all the time” to look at parent involvement issues.
The survey also found that 69.1 percent of the teachers believed the five days it takes to administer the testing is too long.
Pence said the $7,000 survey was beneficial because it proved that “we should continue to make (the assessment program) work better.”
The survey had a margin of error of 5 percent.
Meanwhile, a business leader told the board that the Maryland business community is backing a proposal for a student assessment program on the high school level.
“Accountability for reaching higher standards rests with school systems, schools and individual students,” said Marge Magner of the Maryland Business Roundtable for Education.
“We are convinced that standards must be higher, testing must be rigorous and that a diploma should verify the achievement of those standards,” she said.
The board is expected to vote on the high school assessment program in December.