September 2015

SBAC Results Released

CEA leaders say now is the time to change course

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—is expected to convene later this month to work on getting assessment right for children.

This meeting comes on the heels of the State Department of Education releasing state, district, and school SBAC results late last month. Click here for the scores.

The new Mastery Examination Committee is paramount to teachers because they know this test is not a valid indicator of student knowledge and skills. Here's a statement from CEA President Sheila Cohen.

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.

It will be unproductive for school districts and communities to expend much time laboring over the flawed information provided by the results of the first test administration. Our state's collective energies will be much better spent identifying testing alternatives and maximizing the great opportunity ensured by the new state Mastery Examination Committee.

CEA has been and will continue to be out in front. We chronicled the countless problems with the first SBAC test administration, as well as with the test itself. We took the lead this summer, urging that the new state Mastery Examination Committee—wisely created by the state legislature—be convened immediately to address SBAC.

In our nation, the federal government and states have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on SBAC. This is not the first boondoggle in history, but it is one that Connecticut has the power and wisdom to free our students of this year. It is time for Connecticut to cut its losses.

Seventeen of the 32 states that originally signed on to SBAC are no longer subjecting students in their states to the assessment. Here in our state, policymakers and legislators must push ahead in finding a replacement for SBAC.

With all the controversy surrounding SBAC, we want to reassure parents and teachers that CEA will continue to be an outspoken advocate for our students as Connecticut works to get student testing right.

As Connecticut parents receive their children's test results, the advice from teachers is to examine the results with caution, significant caution, and to look to other valid indicators of student learning, such as frequent progress monitoring, student work portfolios, classroom assessments, and teacher observations.

In closing, we want to note that the SBAC program most negatively impacts younger students, students from low-income families, students who need special accommodations, and students without regular computer access at home, according to the first comprehensive Connecticut research with teachers about SBAC released on August 6 (CEA, conducted by Wesleyan Professor Steven Stemler).

Our students deserve what is reliable, valid, and fair when determining their success.


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