Teachers have been calling attention to the problem of overtesting in public schools for years, and this weekend the Obama administration finally responded by releasing a plan to reduce testing, saying no more than two percent of classroom instruction time should be spent on tests.
In a fact sheet on the new Testing Action Plan the U.S. Department of Education states, “In too many schools, there is unnecessary testing and not enough clarity of purpose applied to the task of assessing students, consuming too much instructional time and creating undue stress for educators and students. The Administration bears some of the responsibility for this, and we are committed to being part of the solution.” Read more
Donald Williams, CEA’s director of Policy, Research, and Reform, and Marcia Ferreira, a Windsor literacy coach, are CEA’s representatives on a new statewide committee examining testing. They are attending meetings around the state to hear from educators.
Representatives on the new state committee examining annual statewide tests need to hear your personal stories about SBAC’s effect on your students. CEA leaders have raised strong concerns about the reliability and validity of SBAC and want to share educators’ concerns, challenges, and suggestions with state education officials and others.
Educator Marcia Ferreira, a Windsor literacy coach, and Donald Williams, CEA’s director of Policy, Research, and Reform, are CEA’s representatives on the new Mastery Examination Committee created by the legislature to examine annual mastery assessments. This month they are attending CEA County Forums around the state to hear your suggestions about ways to fix Connecticut’s flawed testing system, and will bring your ideas back to the Mastery Examination Committee. Read more
CEA Policy Director Donald Williams and Windsor literacy coach Marcia Ferreira represent CEA on the state Mastery Examination Committee.
Members of the new Mastery Examination Committee, created by the legislature to examine student assessment, pledged to do what’s best for children at their first meeting today in Hartford.
But there were no indications that the committee has consensus to act quickly to fix Connecticut’s flawed testing system that has SBAC as its centerpiece.
Educator Marcia Ferreira, a Windsor literacy coach, and Donald Williams, CEA’s director of Policy, Research and Reform, are CEA’s representatives on the committee. “We know the best way to assess students is to review their ongoing work rather than focus on a limited snapshot from a high-stakes, standardized test,” Ferreira said. “I welcome this opportunity to recommend better assessments.”
“The committee’s work will extend into January 2017,” Williams said. “Assessments should be valid and fair, and be designed for the benefit of students.” Read more
The State Department of Education has today released state, district, and school SBAC results. Click here for the scores.
Statement from CEA President Sheila Cohen on Release of SBAC Scores
No one cares more about student success than teachers. Fairness and validity in a state testing program are critical if we are going to be honest about student success. Teachers do not think the new statewide SBAC results are an accurate reflection of what Connecticut students know and are able to do. All indications are that SBAC is not only unfair and invalid, but is also a failed experiment.
To the point, SBAC is neither meaningful in making critical judgments about student, school, and teacher performance, nor is it an accurate gauge by which decisions about individualized student instruction, programs, and funding should be determined. The test technology alone is an utter disaster.
Everything we know about SBAC points to unreliability and lack of validity. A valid and useful testing program provides a sturdy bridge to high-quality education—a system where educators can address individual student needs effectively and improve curriculum and professional development continually. SBAC is not that bridge. SBAC is a bridge to nowhere. Read more
Education Commissioner Dianna Wentzell spoke to state superintendents this morning about SBAC results.
Connecticut school districts are today getting their first look at SBAC results, and the state Department of Education anticipates releasing state-level results sometime between August 31 and September 5, according to spokeswoman Kelly Donnelly.
Earlier this month CEA held a press conference urging caution and highlighting the many problems with SBAC that teachers have witnessed. CEA President Sheila Cohen said, “All indications are that this test is not a valid indicator of student knowledge and skills. This situation is of paramount concern to teachers.”
At a back to school meeting for superintendents today, Commissioner of Education Dianna Wentzell set the stage for how she believes statewide and local results should be interpreted.
“This is not only a baseline year, but the beginning of a new era,” said Wentzell. Read more
CEA President Sheila Cohen told reporters at a press conference this morning at the Legislative Office Building that SBAC is not a valid indicator of student knowledge and skills. From left are classroom teachers and elected CEA officers Secretary Pat Jordan, Treasurer Tom Nicholas, Vice President Jeff Leake, and Cohen.
Connecticut’s new Mastery Examination Committee—created in June by lawmakers to examine the state’s eight-hour, standardized SBAC test for third through eighth graders—should convene as soon as possible to get assessment right for children.
CEA President Sheila Cohen said, “All indications are that this test is not a valid indicator of student knowledge and skills. This situation is of paramount concern to teachers who want the Mastery Examination Committee to begin the critical work of investigating the fairness and validity of Connecticut’s testing program and to identify alternatives.”
Governor Malloy announced today that the state has received approval from the U.S. Department of Education to use the SAT as the mastery exam for eleventh graders in place of SBAC. This announcement comes after the legislature approved and the governor signed a bill to eliminate SBAC testing for eleventh graders earlier this year based on the recommendation of a committee made up of education stakeholders.
Cohen continued, “We want to thank the legislature and the state Department of Education for working with teachers this past legislative session to eliminate SBAC for high school students—that was a good start. But Connecticut must continue moving forward to improve testing.” Read more
“Sadly, too many teachers have been trapped in mindless data exercises that irresponsibly neglect the story behind the numbers, turning children into faceless numbers,” Madison Public Schools Superintendent Thomas Scarice writes in an opinion piece for CT Viewpoints today. Scarice says that it is the stories, the context behind moments that ultimately matter in a child’s life, not that which is easily quantifiable.
The SBAC test is the latest attempt in Connecticut to collect data to use in making far-reaching decisions about students, teachers, and schools, but Scarice says that SBAC is flawed and will never be able to give us the kind of information we really need to know.
What will the SBAC data mean? Nothing. Absolutely nothing at all. Numbers in isolation, lacking story and context.
But, worse yet, numbers based on a specious assessment that will in time suffer and die from a credibility crisis. Sadly, some communities will be asked to explain why this one indicator supersedes volumes of contextual data that form a completely different narrative and tell another story entirely. How could it be that SAT and ACT scores, as well as college admissions rates and college success, do not align with the “college and career readiness” measure of the SBAC?
Read Scarice’s entire commentary here.
State Senator and Education Committee Co-Chair Gayle Slossberg today announced legislation to eliminate SBAC for 11th graders and establish a task force to examine SBAC’s appropriateness for students in grades 3-8. From left are Senate President Pro Tempore Martin Looney, Senator Tim Larson, Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff, Slossberg, Education Committee Co-Chair Rep. Andy Fleischmann, Senator Toni Boucher, Senator Cathy Osten, and Senator Steve Casano.
UPDATE: As of June 2, the House and Senate have both passed Substitute Senate Bill 1095. Read more here.
Legislators today demonstrated they are listening to the concerns of teachers, students, and parents by rolling out Substitute Senate Bill 1095 that eliminates the SBAC exam for 11th graders and establishes a task force to examine the impact of SBAC on students in grades 3-8. The new version of the bill was announced during a press conference at the State Capitol.
CEA President Sheila Cohen said, “We commend teachers for their diligence this year in chronicling the problems with SBAC, and sharing those experiences with their legislators. We applaud legislators, especially Senator Gayle Slossberg and her Education Committee co-chair, State Representative Andy Fleischmann, for listening and taking action by advancing this proposal that increases accountability and provides a strong commitment to Connecticut’s examination of the impact of SBAC, the statewide mastery examination, on student learning time.”
Slossberg said, “The group established by this legislation will look at a number of factors including the age appropriateness of the exam and how much time it is taking students and report back to the legislature.” Read more
Members of the High School Assessment Working Group heard from SAT and ACT representatives at a meeting in December.
Connecticut’s High School Assessment Working Group late yesterday afternoon voted unanimously to eliminate the 11th grade Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) test, and restore precious teaching and learning time for students.
CEA Executive Director Mark Waxenberg, who represents the Association on the working group said, “This is a positive step forward. It will restore much needed instructional time to engage, energize, and excite our students and reveal new possibilities and opportunities. The unanimous vote by stakeholders reduces the number of high-stakes standardized tests students are required to take while still meeting the standards established for our students in 11th grade.”
In addition to SBAC, many high school juniors take a considerable number of tests in a short amount of time, including the SATs and AP exams, and wonder what the value is in having to take the SBAC, too.
The working group will make its recommendation to the governor and legislature to eliminate SBAC and replace it with a nationally recognized college readiness assessment that students are already taking, such as the SAT or the ACT. The recommendation will also outline the need for the new assessment to be adequately funded, in compliance with federal law, and provide accommodations for students with special needs.
“This option allows us to examine the best assessment for all students in the state,” said Waxenberg.
The group plans to work through the summer to decide upon the best assessment to replace SBAC.