Silver Chips Online

Starr eliminates the TerraNova assessment

Second graders in MCPS will no longer take the exam

By Stacy Mathew, Online Opinions and Features Editor
February 17, 2012
On Feb. 14 the Board of Education (BOE) approved Superintendent Joshua Starr's request for Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) to cease administering the TerraNova test. The TerraNova is a standardized achievement test given to second graders to assess their skills in reading, language arts and math. It was first administered 2007, but will now be removed so that the money can be used to fund other school programs.

As of next school year, the TerraNova will be removed from the second grade curriculum. Courtesy of Steck Vaughn School Books
As of next school year, the TerraNova will be removed from the second grade curriculum.
The TerraNova was among three other assessments administered to students in kindergarten through second grade. Eliminating the TerraNova will save MCPS $230,000 each year. In an interview with the Takoma Park Patch, Starr said he plans to use the saved money on other school programs. This cut is a part of Starr's amendments to his Fiscal Year 2013 budget requests, which would add about $4.62 million to the $2.128 billion request that he will present to the BOE for approval in mid-February.

This school year, second graders are scheduled to take the TerraNova from April 16 to 20, followed by a Primary Reading assessment less than three weeks afterwards. Then, they must take another Primary Reading assessment at the beginning of the next school year. Unlike the Primary Reading assessment, results from TerraNova do not reach teachers until the end of the school year, which allows them just a few weeks to improve their classroom strategies, if needed.

Many parents are relieved by the assessment's elimination after witnessing their children's stress. However, there are several possible consequences that could result from the removal of the TerraNova. "Eliminating the test means that parents will no longer have results from a nationally-benchmarked test to assess their children's progress, especially those with high achieving students" Michelle Gluck, chairwoman of the county Parent Teacher Association (PTA) Gifted Child subcommittee, said in an interview with The Gazette. MCPS stated in its annual report last year that students who score at or above the 70th percentile in the TerraNova reading section are considered to be on the path to college and career readiness.

However, Starr still believes that the test is not a necessity, according to a MCPS press release. "While the TerraNova does provide some useful information, I believe we can assess student progress with existing tools and use the money spent on TerraNova in a better way," Starr said.

http://silverchips.mbhs.edu/story/11439