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SBAC Accommodations: Are They Working?

West Hartford Education Association President Ted Goerner and CEA Director of Policy, Research, and Reform Donald Williams are CEA's representatives on the state Mastery Examination Committee.

West Hartford Education Association President Ted Goerner and CEA Director of Policy, Research, and Reform Donald Williams are CEA’s representatives on the state Mastery Examination Committee.

The SBAC test provides students with more accessibility tools than any state test previously used in Connecticut, but how well do these accommodations and supports work and how well do they serve students?

That’s the question raised by teachers at a state Mastery Examination Committee meeting today. The committee heard detailed presentations from state Department of Education (SDE) staff about the accommodations and supports offered by SBAC and other state tests, but the SDE lacks information documenting how well these tools really work in the field.

“It’s one thing to have the accommodations,” said CEA Director of Policy, Research, and Reform Donald Williams. “The rubber meets the road in terms of how do those accommodations work as the test is actually being administered.”

Williams pointed to surveys of teachers in Connecticut and other states using SBAC that show that an overwhelming majority reported problems with the accommodations available for special needs students and English language learners.

Science teacher and West Hartford Education Association President Ted Goerner described mastering and effectively using extra layers of supports and accommodations as yet another obstacle to test taking for some students. “It’s tools within tools within tools,” he said.

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