“High-stakes standardized tests are sucking the educational oxygen out of the room for teaching and learning,” CEA Executive Director Mark Waxenberg told host John Dankosky this morning on WNPR’s “Where We Live.” Waxenberg joined CT Mirror education reporter Jacqueline Rabe Thomas and Jeffrey Villar, executive director of the Connecticut Council for Education Reform, for a discussion about standardized testing and CEA’s proposal to eliminate the controversial SBAC.
Waxenberg explained that CEA’s proposal to replace SBAC with a progress monitoring assessment would still allow for comparisons between Connecticut districts. However, instead of focusing on a cut score, the CEA proposal would focus on students’ grade equivalency and growth over time.
CEA’s proposal does not call for any additional testing, as districts in Connecticut are already using progress monitoring assessments. “School boards are already paying for progress monitoring assessments,” Waxenberg said. “We want a portfolio of growth to be the driving force behind what happens in the classroom.”
Under the CEA proposal, a State Mastery Examination Board comprised of educators and experts would identify the progress assessment to take the place of SBAC from among those progress assessments already administered in classrooms.
Villar argued in favor of keeping the SBAC, saying that Connecticut needs to be able to compare student test scores to those of a state such as Massachusetts.
However, Massachusetts is one of the 32 states that have rejected SBAC. Of those states, 21 are creating their own, unique assessment systems — using their own expertise and common sense. There’s no reason Connecticut cannot change course.
The State Department of Education has yet to release the state-level results of last year’s pilot administration of SBAC, despite assurances that it will do so. It will take three to five years to determine the reliability of SBAC, and in the mean time, if the state doesn’t change course, Connecticut students and teachers will be held accountable for scores on an unproven test.
Progress monitoring assessments have already been in use for many years and have been proven reliable and accurate.
Waxenberg said that CEA will be presenting its legislative proposal at a hearing of the legislature’s Education Committee next week. “Hopefully there will be debate and discussion, and lawmakers will look favorably on our proposal,” Waxenberg said.
He added, “We’re not doing away with standardized testing — this turns it on its head. It puts the focus back where it belongs on student learning.”