The U.S. Department of Education has waived standardized testing requirements for the current school year for students in elementary school through high school. The department says it will provide relief from federally mandated testing requirements to any state requesting a waiver due to the public health crisis.
“Eliminating standardized testing for the current year is the right decision for students,” said CEA President Jeff Leake. “It will allow teachers to focus on end-of-year learning and students’ social and emotional well-being, instead of teaching to the test. Teachers will continue to keep their students safe, engaged, and learning throughout this crisis.”
The action comes just one day after Governor Lamont and Connecticut Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona requested a waiver to suspend standardized assessments. Cardona said sitting students down to take assessments after an extended absence from school is not the best way to use their time. Read more
National Teacher of the Year and Waterbury educator Jahana Hayes spoke in favor of a recommendation that the State Board of Education approved that prohibits mastery exams from being used in the calculation of teachers’ summative ratings.
The State Board of Education (SBOE) showed its commitment to students and teachers today by voting to remove state mastery test results from teacher evaluations.
“This is a big victory for students, teachers, and public education,” said CEA President Sheila Cohen. “The voices and expertise of teachers were heard and addressed by policymakers who did the right thing by putting the focus back where it belongs: on teaching, learning, and student achievement.”
The SBOE voted to approve new guidelines that clearly define how mastery tests can and cannot be used. The Performance Evaluation Advisory Council (PEAC) recommended the new guidelines, which say state mastery test results can be used to inform goal setting and professional learning for educators, as appropriate, but cannot be used as a measure of goal attainment or in the calculation of the summative rating for an educator. Read more
CEA President Sheila Cohen and CEA Executive Director Mark Waxenberg, who both serve on PEAC, said mastery tests are not designed for the evaluation of teachers or administrators.
The Performance Evaluation Advisory Council (PEAC) yesterday took a giant step forward in addressing teachers’ concerns regarding the use of state mastery examination results in teacher evaluations. PEAC defined the clear use and purpose of the state mastery exam, agreeing that it should not be used to evaluate teachers.
PEAC unanimously agreed to recommend new guidelines for educator support and evaluation programs to the State Board of Education. These new guidelines support the use of state mastery test scores to inform educator goal setting and to inform professional development planning, but prohibit their use as a measure of goal attainment or in the calculation of the summative rating for an educator. Read more
While many states have embraced improvement in their statewide assessment programs and have rejected invalid tests, Connecticut remains stuck in a program that is harmful to teaching and discriminatory to students.
In spite of mounting concerns about the validity and fairness of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) test—which is administered to students in grades 3-8—a divided state committee in charge of reviewing the test voted to retain SBAC and ignore concerns raised by teachers and administrators. Representatives of the Connecticut Education Association (CEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Connecticut submitted a Minority Report detailing the problems with SBAC. Read more
CEA Executive Director Mark Waxenberg discussed the use of mastery exam scores in teacher evaluation with other members of the Performance Evaluation Advisory Council.
Connecticut’s Performance Evaluation Advisory Council (PEAC) today acted on teachers’ concerns regarding the use of mastery examination scores in their evaluations. PEAC unanimously agreed recommending to the State Board of Education to continue the practice of not requiring mastery exam scores in teachers’ evaluations for the next academic year.
PEAC plans to continue to work on determining the appropriate use of mastery test scores and examining the current “matrix” used to evaluate teachers.
CEA Director of Policy, Research, and Reform Donald Williams.
A 21-member group tasked with reviewing the appropriateness of Connecticut’s statewide mastery examination reviewed a draft report today prepared by the State Department of Education (SDE) outlining several findings and recommendations.
Unfortunately, the Mastery Examination Committee’s report fails to address substantial concerns raised by CEA Director of Policy, Research, and Reform Donald Williams and other committee members over the 15-month-period during which the group met.
Key objections center on Read more
At today’s PEAC meeting, CEA Executive Director Mark Waxenberg and President Sheila Cohen held a small group discussion with SDE Commissioner Dianna Wentzell and New Haven Federation of Teachers President David Cicarello on the question of the appropriate use of state mastery tests.
CEA leadership pressed the state’s Performance Evaluation Advisory Council (PEAC) today to answer a fundamental question: What is the purpose of the state mastery test?
Frustrated that the group has examined the same question for months—with no progress on articulating an answer—CEA Executive Director Mark Waxenberg told PEAC members, “We’re retilling already tilled soil. What I’m suggesting is that we have to define, as a body, the appropriate use of a mastery test in the state of Connecticut. We need to make a recommendation to the state of Connecticut. We need to take a position on that. If we can’t agree on the purpose of the state test and how it’s going to be used, then we’re lost.”
At today’s PEAC meeting in Hartford, Waxenberg and CEA President Sheila Cohen, who represent teachers on the council, reiterated the Association’s position that state mastery tests should not be used in teacher evaluation. Read more
CEA Director of Policy & Research Donald Williams at today’s meeting of the state Mastery Examination Committee.
New research showing that the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) test disproportionately disadvantages students and teachers in high-poverty districts was distributed to members of the state Mastery Examination Committee today.
The study of 600 teachers, conducted by Abacus Associates for the Connecticut Education Association, underscores mounting concerns by legislators, educators, parents, and others about the test’s validity, fairness, and negative impact on students—particularly those in high-poverty districts and those with limited access to computers. Read more
The state’s Mastery Examination Committee met today to discusses purposes of student assessment and the state’s new growth model.
At a meeting of the state’s Mastery Examination Committee today, committee members discussed the purpose and use of standardized tests.
“One of the real things that occurred in the last era was a misuse of the state exam,” Commissioner of Education Dianna Wentzell said. “It created an over-focus on the exam itself and a narrowing of the curriculum in some cases to the things that were assessed.”
Don Williams, CEA director of Policy, Research, and Reform, pointed out that education researcher James Popham has strongly cautioned against misusing standardized tests designed for one purpose to fulfill a completely separate purpose.
Popham writes that the validity of a test, such as SBAC, which is designed to evaluate school and district performance, is rendered invalid if it is used for purposes not fully supported by evidence. Read more
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. Read more