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Connecticut Cuts Part Of Standardized Tests For Students In Grades 3-8

Gov. Dannel Malloy and the State Department of Education are making changes to the standardized testing for students in third to eighth grade by eliminating part of the exam.
Gov. Dannel Malloy and the State Department of Education are making changes to the standardized testing for students in third to eighth grade by eliminating part of the exam. Photo Credit: Jay Polansky

FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. -- Students in Grades 3 to 8 across Connecticut will be taking fewer standardized tests under a change announced Thursday.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and State Education Commissioner Dianna R. Wentzell announced that that change will provide for more classroom time for more than 200,000 students.

Currently, the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium exam is given in two steps. The first is a computer adaptive test -- the portion done electronically with adaptive questions based on student responses -- and the second is a performance task, such as essays.

As part of new steps to reduce state testing, the performance tasks, which are often duplicative with in-class work, will be eliminated. The change could increase learning time by up to an hour and 45 minutes for students.

"We are working as hard as possible to be smart about testing, limit anxiety, and boost learning time. Tests are important — they help us measure ourselves and pinpoint how to improve. But where we find duplication, we should act. We're going to do just that with this new step," Malloy said.

"When we know an exam won't improve our understanding of a student's standing, and we know it won't necessarily improve teaching quality, then we should eliminate it so it doesn't burden our students, teachers, and families. It's our goal to be smart about how we test and ensure we find the right balance. This decision is a step in that direction."

The state Department of Education has studied the issue and found that the computer-only tests remain reliable without the performance task portion of the exam.

"By rightsizing the Smarter Balanced Assessment to Connecticut's needs, we are not only saving time and money, but we are improving the teaching and learning process," Wentzell said.

Under federal law, Connecticut must administer end-of-year tests to all students in grades three to eight and once in high school. This change does not require Board of Education or legislative approval.

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