Thursday, August 06, 2015
(HARTFORD, CT) - Governor Dannel P. Malloy today announced that the U.S. Department of Education has approved a waiver request he submitted on behalf of the State of Connecticut to reduce the amount of standardized testing required for public high school students. In an effort to eliminate duplicative testing, reduce over-testing, mitigate student stress, and address parental concerns, the Governor last fall sought federal approval to replace the 11th grade Smarter Balance Assessment - or SBAC exam - with the SAT.
With today's approval, starting in the fall 2015-2016 school-year, the SAT will be used in lieu of SBAC, and will be free for all Connecticut students.
Beyond the benefits of reducing duplicative testing, the move has an added benefit of leveling the playing field by ensuring those who otherwise might not be able to afford the SAT - the costs for which typically run more than $50 - will not be precluded from taking the exam, which is often requisite for admission to higher education institutions.
"While exams that test college readiness are essential to helping us gauge where we are as a state and help guide instruction, we are doing our part to mitigate over-testing - a common concern among parents. There's a balance to be struck, and we're working to reach it," said Governor Malloy. "We know individualized teaching and instruction works, and we know that student-by-student data can help. But that doesn't mean we should be overburdening our kids. That's why we first devised this idea and submitted this waiver last fall, and that's why we're so thrilled to be able to deliver for families across Connecticut today. When other Governors from around the nation were slashing funds for education, we supported our classrooms. When some suggested we should roll back support for our children, we stepped up to boost it. And as a result, today graduation rates are at record highs while our children are more prepared for college and careers like never before. I thank the U.S. Department of Education and Secretary Duncan for approving our request and helping us move forward with an approach that allows our state to adapt with the changing times."
"Over the past four and a half years, this administration has made historic investments in our schools, our students, and our educators. It's a responsibility to our children and to the very future of Connecticut," said Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman. "Our continued economic expansion depends on a talented workforce - as our communities grow, they require new leaders, and our businesses need innovators. Education must be effective as well as inspiring. Strengthening how we educate is an important step toward a better system overall."
"Since the Governor directed us to examine the issue of test burden last year, we have been engaged in a thoughtful conversation with educational partners around what is best for Connecticut students," said State Department of Education (SDE) Commissioner Dianna Wentzell. "This approval allows us to expand opportunity for students as it strengthens accountability to ensure that we deliver on our promise to prepare all students for success in college and careers. We thank Governor Malloy for his leadership on this issue and Secretary Duncan for providing us the opportunity to develop a plan that works for Connecticut students. We also thank our State Board of Education, educational associations, and legislators for their partnership in pursuing this path."
This isn't the only effort Governor Malloy, Commissioner Wentzell, and the state have taken to mitigate over-testing. SDE previously appointed a committee to study over-testing as the department has provided district grants to help them reduce duplicative exams and ease the burden on teachers and students. In February, the department awarded $428,253 to 48 districts as part of the Assessment Reduction grant program, which Governor Malloy announced last September. Districts received awards up to $10,000 each. The grants aimed to help districts comprehensively analyze their tests to ensure that they reflect district priorities, remain aligned to new state standards, provide maximum value, and are not redundant with other assessments, with the ultimate aim of reducing testing time wherever possible.
Under federal law, Connecticut must administer end-of-year tests to all students in Grades 3 to 8 and once in high school. As part of its transition to college and career-ready standards, Connecticut's high school exam was recently moved from Grade 10 to Grade 11. Currently, many 11th graders take college placement exams (typically the SAT or ACT), subject-matter tests, such as the Advanced Placement exams and SAT subject matter tests, and end-of-course exams administered by the school - all in addition to the required test for federal accountability developed by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.