Malloy; eliminate test. Teachers Union; not enough learning

CROMWELL, Conn. (WTNH) — Some of the best news a school kid could ever hear came from the Governor’s office Thursday; there is going to be less testing.

One of the commonly called ‘SBAC’ exams for thousands of kids is going to be cancelled starting next month because educators feel it’s just not needed and the time can be better spent learning. Under federal law, Connecticut must administer end-of-year tests to all students in grades 3 to 8 and once in high school.

More than a quarter of a million Connecticut school kids in grades 3 through 8 will be taking the ‘Smarter Balanced Assessment’ tests next month. But starting on March 15th, they’ll only be taking one English language exam instead of two because it has now been determined that the second part is just not needed. Weekly assessments by teachers have concluded that the second part of the exam duplicates the first and that with less time testing, there will be more time for learning.

Chris Butwell is principal at the Woodside Intermediate School in Cromwell and said in a News 8 interview Thursday; “Our goal is to make sure that our assessments are focused on what we really need to measure, not impact instructional time, and so that the time in the classroom is really spent with students on the topics that are important. Assessing when we need to and then using the results from that assessment to further drive instruction. Less time testing.”

The Governor came to the school to announce the change and noted that duplicated testing is also being eliminated at the 11th grade level by replacing the ‘Smarter Balanced’ exam with the ‘Scholastic Aptitude Test’, commonly known as the SAT. “Too much testing takes away from learning time, it can cause anxiety, and we need tests that show student growth and gives us useful, actionable information,” said Connecticut Department of Education Commissioner Dianna Wetzell.

In a statement, Mark Waxenberg, the head of the state’s largest teacher union (CEA) said, “The governor’s plan takes a very small step toward reducing excessive testing for our students but does nothing to address the underlying issue that SBAC is ineffective, invalid, and discriminatory. We all know that reliable assessments that drive classroom instructional improvement are important in a student’s academic development—SBAC is not that type of assessment. It is time to put a stop to Connecticut’s singular focus on this unfair, high-stakes, snapshot assessment.”

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