The issue of mandatory state-wide testing of students has long been an issue in Connecticut schools, but the passing of a new law may help to lessen the burden of testing on students. On August 7, theU.S. Department of Education voted that Connecticut public schools can replace the 11th grade state standardized test, the Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBAC), with the SAT. The SAT test will now be free of charge for all Connecticut high school students as thenew law takes effect for this upcoming school year.
This vote resulted from numerous complaints by Connecticut students, parents, and educators regarding the high volume of mandatory testing occurring in schools. Many parents in the state have chosen to opt their children out of standardized testing, particularly in the wake of the implementation of the common core test consortium of SBAC last year. As a result of these complaints and refusals to take the SBAC test, there has been increased pressure from school administrators calling for students to take the test, proclaiming that opting out affects districts’ ability to secure state educational funding.
Although Connecticut has now chosen to decrease the number of high school standardizedtests, there is still the major issue of over-testing in the elementary and middle schools. In addition to theSmarter Balanced Assessment which takes place annually for students in grades six, seven, and eight, many districts have now begun to implement other standardized tests in order to comply with the push for data collection. One such test, the Measures of Academic Progress (MAP) test from the company NWEA, is a three-day assessment which many school districts administer three times throughout the school year. MAP bills itself as a test to determine what students are ready to learn, rather than a summative assessment, but its detractors feel that it is yet another test which takes time away from teaching. It should also be noted that MAP has been the subject of controversy ranging from questions about its validity to its tie-in to teacher evaluations.
The multitude of standardized testing occurring in Connecticut schoolshas created an environment in which students are becoming increasingly test fatigued. At this point, it remains to be seen whether Connecticut’s recognition of limiting testing in secondary education will trickle down to the elementary and middle school levels as well.
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