OLR Bill Analysis

sSB 1095

AN ACT CONCERNING STUDENTS ASSESSMENTS.

SUMMARY:

By law, public school students in certain grades must take mastery exams that are designed to measure grade-appropriate skills in reading, writing, math, and science. Currently, high school students must take the exams in 10th or 11th grade. By eliminating the 10th grade option, the bill requires that students take the exam in 11th grade. The federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act (P.L. 107-110) allows the high school exams to be given sometime in grades 10 through 12.

Also by law, the State Board of Education (SBE) must approve the exams, and the bill specifies they may be a nationally-recognized exam. Under an existing test administration provision, SBE must provide and administer the tests. The bill specifies that SBE either provide and administer or approve the tests. (It is unclear what this provision means, since by definition, mastery tests are approved by SBE.)

The changes are effective for the school year starting July 1, 2015.

The bill also requires the State Department of Education (SDE) to (1) study the administration of the statewide mastery examinations and (2) submit the results to the Education Committee by January 1, 2016.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2015, but the statewide mastery exam study provision is effective upon passage.

MASTERY EXAM STUDY

Under the bill, the study must include the:

1. effect and impact of the statewide mastery examinations on student learning time;

2. extent to which the mastery examinations are aligned with SBE-adopted curriculum standards (e.g., the Common Core State Standards, adopted in 2010);

3. requirements of federal law regarding statewide testing;

4. effect and impact of the administration of the statewide mastery examination on 11th grade students; and

5. feasibility of administering state-approved progress monitoring tests throughout the school year and whether such tests comply with the state's waiver of the federal NCLB (see BACKGROUND).

BACKGROUND

NCLB Waiver

In 2012, Connecticut applied for and was granted, as were many other states, a waiver of certain aspects of NCLB (e.g., federal sanctions when a state's students do not improve academic performance at the pace required under NCLB). In order to receive the waiver the state had to agree to take a number of steps including specifying how it would (1) intervene in low performing schools and school districts, (2) tie teacher evaluation to student achievement, and (3) establish college and career ready standards for students. Connecticut is currently in the process of applying for a three-year waiver extension.

COMMITTEE ACTION

Education Committee

Joint Favorable Substitute

Yea

29

Nay

4

(03/27/2015)