GOV. MALLOY ANNOUNCES EFFORT TO REDUCE STANDARDIZED TESTING IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS
(HARTFORD, CT) - Governor Dannel P. Malloy today announced that the administration is taking two actions to help reduce the time Connecticut students spend taking standardized tests. In
to U.S. Department of Education (USED) Secretary Arne Duncan, the Governor asked for USED to consider how the number of high-stakes exams in Grade 11 could be reduced under existing federal law.
In the letter, the Governor writes, "I am eager to explore solutions for the students who may be our most over-tested: our eleventh graders."
Under federal law, Connecticut must administer end-of-year tests to all students in Grades 3-8 and once in high school. As part of its transition to college and career-ready standards, Connecticut's high school test was moved from Grade 10 to Grade 11. While administering the test in Grade 11 provides better information on a student's learning in high school, it also adds to eleventh graders' already crowded schedule of high-stakes tests. To explore what can be done under existing federal law, Governor Malloy will bring together a Connecticut working group, as well as confer with the U.S. Department of Education, to examine promising possibilities to lessen the test burden for Grade 11 students.
"Tests are essential tools that teachers and principals use to inform important decisions around a student learning and instruction. However, tests have the potential to sometimes be duplicative or outdated," said Governor Malloy. "We must adapt with the changing times, and this approach will allow us to do that."
Spring semester's eleventh grade tests include college placement exams (typically the SAT or ACT), subject-matter tests like 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.
One potential avenue for alleviating the burden on the eleventh grade would be to examine whether a college entrance exam, such as the SAT, could satisfy the federally mandated high school exam. In 2013, 83 percent of Connecticut students took the SAT - the fourth-highest rate in the nation. College entrance exams are either already aligned or are currently aligning to the new college- and career-ready standards. This is one potential area of exploration that the Governor's newly announced working group will undertake.
The Governor and Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor also announced a new grant opportunity to help Connecticut school districts reduce the amount of time students at all grade levels spend taking tests. The grant will support local efforts to eliminate tests that are outdated and do not contribute to student learning - thereby increasing classroom time for teaching - and to improve the quality of student assessments already in use, including the tailoring and personalization of assessments to student needs. The State Department of Education will release a competitive application to districts by next month and will award up to $500,000 in grants.
"Our goal is to help districts to determine whether they can reduce time devoted to testing and provide more room for instruction in the classroom," Commissioner Pryor said. "We are pleased to support local leaders and teachers in this important work and we are optimistic that by eliminating tests that are outdated or unnecessary, more time can be freed up for teaching and learning in our schools."
Last year, as a first step to address this issue, Connecticut partnered with the national education organization Achieve to pilot a tool that helps school districts take stock of their use of tests, and to identify areas where testing can be reduced. Eight districts participated in the pilot year, and the tool is available for all districts in 2014-15.
The RFP announced today will help districts conduct a comprehensive analysis of their assessments to ensure that they reflect the priorities of the district, provide maximum value, are not redundant with other tests, and reduce testing time wherever possible.
For Immediate Release: September 5, 2014
Contact: Andrew Doba
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