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Posts tagged ‘standardized tests’

SBAC Creates Barriers for High-Poverty Districts, Not a Valid Measure of Student Growth

CEA Director of Policy & Research Donald Williams

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

SBAC Validity Linked to Use and Purpose; SDE Unveils New Growth Model

masetery exam comm

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

Teachers Rally at the Capitol for More Learning, Less Testing

“We want legislators to get rid of SBAC now. The clock is ticking,” CEA President Sheila Cohen told teachers, principals, students, and the public at a rally tonight at the State Capitol in Hartford.

In reaction, the crowd erupted in cheers, replying, “Let us teach. Let us teach. Let us teach.”

At a rally at the State Capitol, CEA President Sheila Cohen told teachers, principals, students and the public that

At a rally at the State Capitol, CEA President Sheila Cohen told teachers, principals, students and the public that “We want legislators to get rid of SBAC now.”

More teaching and less testing was the theme of tonight’s rally. “We want legislators to know that testing is not learning. Excessive testing and test prep is wasting children’s time,” Cohen said.

Hundreds of people packed the North Lawn of the State Capitol for the rally. Cromwell teacher Tim O’Neill described it as a show of solidarity to ensure that legislators hear the voice of teachers.

A group of Rocky Hill teachers explained that today was the last day of SBAC administration in their school district. Teacher Lynn Marinelli said, “I feel bad that we put the kids through something that is not fundamentally appropriate.” Her colleague, Rocky Hill teacher Kristen Hassett, said she felt compelled to attend the rally to speak up for her students. “SBAC took important time away from teaching,” she said. Read more

Study Shows College Applicants Who Don’t Submit SAT Scores Do Just as Well

Photo by albertogp123 via Flickr.

Photo by albertogp123 via Flickr.

Studying for and taking the SATs are a rite of passage for college-bound high school students, but a new study is casting doubt on the usefulness of this high-stakes exam. At colleges and universities that have made the submission of SAT scores optional, students who did not submit scores had a cumulative GPA only 0.05 percent lower and a college graduation rate just 0.6 percent lower than students who did submit scores. Read more

CEA, Parents, and Educators Speak Out About Teacher Evaluation

CEA Executive Director Mary Loftus Levine, parents, and teachers told members of the State Board of Education today that they are concerned about the potential overreliance on standardized test scores in teacher evaluations.

“Teachers are very concerned about the direction and process that appears to be evolving on the Performance Evaluation Advisory Council (PEAC), and we would like the Board to consider our concerns before adopting evaluation guidelines and piloting them,” said Loftus Levine. Read her testimony here.


In the teacher evaluation framework agreed to by PEAC, 45% of a teacher’s evaluation would be made up of multiple indicators of student academic growth and development. CEA and other groups shared an understanding that half of that, 22.5%, would include standardized test scores and the “other” 22.5% would not include standardized test scores.

At a meeting May 31, PEAC decided the following, against CEA’s strong objections and opposition. While 22.5% of a teacher’s evaluation will be based on state standardized tests (CMT and CAPT) – or other standardized tests for non-tested subjects and grades – the “other” 22.5% was (and still is) in dispute. CEA believes this “other” 22.5% should include non-standardized multiple indicators of student academic growth. For the “other” 22.5% the council decided to allow one standardized test and a minimum of one other indicator, with mutual consent between the teacher and evaluator, subject to a dispute resolution mechanism. Teachers and evaluators will meet to establish student learning objectives within the “other” 22.5%, according to the PEAC decision.

Details on deep concerns raised before State Board

Parents and educators urged board members today to take a stand against the improper and damaging overuse of standardized tests and move in the right direction for children.

Wendy Lecker, a mother of three children in the Stamford Public Schools, says she wants her children, and all children, to have the best teachers possible, and that’s why she strongly opposes using standardized test scores in any part of a teacher’s evaluation.

“The research is clear that basing evaluations on test scores results in a 40-50% misclassification rate,” said Lecker. “The irony is that these tests do nothing for children’s achievement.”

The National Research Council has concluded that 10 years of test based accountability has done next to nothing to improve student achievement.

Mary Gallucci, a former educator and parent from Windham, said being a good or excellent test taker does not translate into being a successful student who can think and solve problems creatively, as is demanded in most universities, vocational schools, and careers.

“Test preparation and drilling is not learning, and many children tune it out after a while,” she said. “Getting high scores on standardized tests reveals very little about a person’s intelligence, which is multi-faceted. I condemn in the strongest language possible reforms based on standardized test results and evaluations for teachers that include these results because they deny the creativity and humanity of both the child and the teacher.”

Darcy Hicks, a parent and former teacher from Westport, left her job as a teacher because she felt the time she needed to actually teach was squeezed out little by little each year.

“Experimental remedies were dropped into my lap and into the laps of my students. These distractions never did anything to help the learning in my classroom, in fact, they kept us from engaging in a deeper active learning that is necessary for success,” she said.

CEA provided the Board with research and expert views showing that using test scores to evaluate teachers does not improve student performance.

“Overreliance on testing has been a failure for our students. We ask the Board to not make the same mistake when establishing a fair, reliable, and valid teacher evaluation system and state model for the pilots,” said Loftus Levine.

PEAC’s deadline for submitting recommendations to the State Board of Education is July 1. The Board has scheduled a special meeting to discuss the PEAC recommendations on June 27 at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford.