In events leading up to the POSA vote, NEA President Lilly Eskelsen García and more than 400 other educators and community members rallied on March 13 at MSEA headquarters in Annapolis to advocate for a narrative of positive change around ESSA. Despite a forecast of heavy snow, educators marched to legislative office buildings to visit with elected officials to discuss student-centered legislation.
A flood of educator voices throughout that week had an immediate impact on March 17 as the Maryland Senate voted 46–0 to approve the More Learning, Less Testing Act. This bill, known as the Less Testing, More Learning Act in the House, limits all federal, state, and district mandated testing to 2.2 percent of the school year — except in eighth grade when the limit is 2.3 percent — or about 25 hours annually. The bill also contains an amendment that gives districts a waiver to get over the cap if school-level educators in the local education association agree.
Both chambers unanimously approved the bill, albeit in slightly different forms. In February, the Maryland House of Delegates voted 139-0 to limit all district, state, and federal mandated tests to 2 percent of the annual school year—or 21.6 hours in elementary and middle schools and 23.6 hours in high schools. The average Maryland student takes more than 200 standardized tests at school. This legislation would eliminate more than 900 hours of standardized testing across 17 districts.