Gov. Malloy, Commissioner Wentzell, Senator Bye, Representative Fleischmann Reaffirm State’s Commitment to Reduce Testing, Focus on College Readiness
(WEST HARTFORD, CT) - Governor Dannel P. Malloy today joined State Department of Education (SDE) Commissioner Dianna R. Wentzell, State Senator Beth Bye (D-West Hartford), and State Representative Andy Fleischmann (D-West Hartford) at Conard High School in West Hartford, where they highlighted the state's plan to replace the 11th Grade Smarter Balance Assessment - or SBAC exam - with the SAT later this school year. This plan represents an important milestone in Governor Malloy's commitment to reduce the amount of standardized testing for public high school students and ensure that all students are prepared to succeed in college and careers.
Last month, the U.S. Department of Education approved a waiver request Governor Malloy submitted on behalf of the state, granting Connecticut with the ability to give 11th Grade students the SAT in lieu of the SBAC. The SAT will eventually become free for all 11th Grade public school students.
"All children deserve a chance to pursue their dreams, go to college, and compete for the best jobs in a global economy. We are no doubt raising a new bar - graduation rates are at record highs while we're preparing children for the future like never before," Governor Malloy said. "But we also believe in testing smartly, and mitigating stress among students and parents. That's why we've taken this step, and I would like to thank Senator Bye, Representative Fleischmann, and all those who worked in the House and Senate on this issue.
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.
"Our job is to make sure all of our students in Connecticut have access to a top-quality education that prepares them for success in college and career. Tests are an important tool for gauging where we are as a state and where students need additional help to succeed," Commissioner Wentzell said. "Replacing the Smarter Balanced assessment with the SAT for 11th graders cuts down on the amount of time students spend taking exams and allows high schools to focus on delivering rigorous academic instruction and preparing young people for college. We thank Governor Malloy, our legislators and educational partners for their leadership and support on this important issue."
"I've heard complaints from many parents and students over the past few years about lost learning time and the impact of too much student testing, especially for 11th-graders, who have some of the heaviest testing burdens with the SBAC, SAT and Advanced Placement exams," Senator Bye said. "I believe the changes we have instituted will reduce student stress while still providing them with a proven and valuable college-preparation tool."
"Federal requirements created a bottleneck of testing for high school juniors that we are now fixing," State Representative Fleischmann, House co-chair of the Education Committee, said. "By replacing the 11th Grade SBAC with the new SAT, we not only get rid of a test many students weren't taking seriously - we also make a college entrance exam free for all families. Students who might not have considered college before will start to do so - while their parents get a break on ever-rising test fees."
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 and 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.