Superintendent of Schools Joshua P. Starr announced Thursday (January 26) that Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) will stop administering the TerraNova 2 (TN2) test to second grade students starting next school year. He is recommending the money spent on the TN2 be used for other purposes.
Dr. Starr’s recommendation is part of a continued effort to find savings and efficiencies in the operating budget for Fiscal Year 2013 and to reduce the number of standardized tests that students take in MCPS.
“While the TerraNova does provide some useful information, I believe we can assess student progress with existing tools and use the money spent on the TN2 in a better way,” Dr. Starr said. “Testing certainly has its place, but we must carefully consider every assessment we are giving our students and determine if the benefits outweigh the cost and the interruption to instruction.”
Currently, MCPS second graders take the TerraNova 2, which assesses reading, language mechanics, mathematics, and mathematics computation. Students in grades K-2 also take the MCPS Assessment Program—Primary Reading (MCPS AP-PR) three times throughout each school year to measure reading ability and attainment.
The superintendent informed the Board of Education of this change as he prepares to submit amendments to his FY 2013 operating budget proposal. Dr. Starr has recommended a $2.13 billion budget for next fiscal year, an increase of about 2 percent from the current budget. This is the smallest requested increase in more than a decade.
Since Dr. Starr released his budget recommendation in December, more information has become available about the county and state’s fiscal condition and the state budget. Dr. Starr will make amendments to his budget recommendation to reflect that information before the Board of Education votes on a final budget request on February 14.
Dr. Starr’s overall budget recommendation is expected to increase his original proposal by $4.62 million. This reflects an increase in state funding for FY 2013 proposed by Gov. O’Malley. Dr. Starr is also recommending realignment of funds in certain areas. Details of these realignments will be sent to the Board before Feb. 14, but will include:
- Reduction of more than $600,000 in stipends for part-time salaries for summer employment, part-time instructional salaries, stipends and substitutes;
- Realignment of $221,000 to fund three additional prekindergarten classes for students from low-income families, based on projected enrollment;
- Realignment of $300,000 to work with Gallup Consulting to more effectively measure staff engagement.