Education Committee

JOINT FAVORABLE REPORT

Bill No.:

SB-1095

Title:

AN ACT CONCERNING STUDENTS ASSESSMENTS.

Vote Date:

3/27/2015

Vote Action:

Joint Favorable Substitute

PH Date:

3/19/2015

File No.:

SPONSORS OF BILL:

Education Committee

REASONS FOR BILL:

The purpose of the bill is to require the State Department of Education (SDE) to conduct by January 1, 2016 a study of the state-wide mastery exam to determine: (1) the effect and impact on student learning time, (2) the extent the exam is aligned with curriculum standards adopted by the State Board of Education, (3) requirements of federal law regarding state-wide testing, and (4) the effect and impact of the administration of state-wide mastery exams on students in 11th grade.

Substitute Language

Proposed Substitute Bill No. 1095 makes the following changes:

Section 1, Line 4: inclusion of the phrase, “as amended by this act.”

Section 1, Lines 10 – 14: inclusion of additional language, “the feasibility of the administration of state-approved progress monitoring tests throughout the school year and whether such progress monitoring tests are in compliance with the terms of the federal waiver to the No Child Left Behind Act, P.L. 107-110, granted to the state.”

Section 2, Lines 24-25: removed, “or an existing nationally recognized examination approved by the State Board of Education.”

Section 2, Lines 26-27: added, “including any nationally recognized examination.”

RESPONSE FROM ADMINISTRATION/AGENCY:

Interim Commissioner of Education, Dianna R. Wentzell: Commissioner Wentzell testified that at this time SDE, at Governor Malloy's direction, has taken steps to reduce the amount of time students spend taking tests. The Department has convened a workgroup of stakeholders and experts to explore options for reducing the test burden for Grade 11 students. The Department is making grants available to local school districts to assess their own processes for administering tests.

NATURE AND SOURCES OF SUPPORT:

Alana Callahan, Board Member, Connecticut Association of School Administrators: Ms. Callahan supports the proposed bill testifying that current testing is not developmentally appropriate for students. She specified that SBAC testing does not show where a student starts and how that student has made progress and mastery of information. Many students in 3rd grade are not developmentally ready to address the subject matter addressed in SBAC.

Jeffrey Villar, Executive Director, Connecticut Council for Education Reform: Mr. Villar testified that CCER supports the proposed bill and any proposed bill that grants the General Assembly “greater access to quality information about assessments, particularly because there has been so much misinformation spread on this topic.” CCER does support standardized assessments because they believe that Assessments allow Connecticut to objectively measure student growth progress, effectiveness of policy initiatives, and whether school districts are educating groups of students equally.

Shelia Cohen and Mark Waxenberg, Connecticut Education Association: Ms. Cohen and Mr. Waxenberg testified in support of the proposed bill, advocating for a result that would replace the current SBAC standardized test with what the CEA describes as “verified, progress monitoring tests” (PMTs). CEA supports incorporating PMTs into classrooms because they are a measurable, proven reliable method of measuring both classroom instruction and less quantifiable skills such as critical thinking and creativity. CEA's position is that SBAC does not fulfill the current needs for Connecticut classrooms because of lost time to test prep, poor vetting of software and content appropriateness, increased cheating and sharing answers, and a growing number of states that are discontinuing use of SBAC.

Additional Testimony

Testimony was offered by the following people in support of the need to conduct a study of the state-wide mastery examination expressing concerns about the appropriateness of the administration and utility of the SBAC.

Christopher Simo-Kinzer, Parent, Terryville

Mary E. Burnham, Retired Teacher, Sandy Hook:

Marcia Ferreira, East Hartford Teacher, Connecticut Education Association

John R. Bestor, School Psychologist, Sandy Hook

Dale Dauphinais, Quite Corner Parents for Education, Killingly

Helen Alvarez Moran, Connecticut Association of School Administrators

NATURE AND SOURCES OF OPPOSITION:

Jennifer Herz, Assistant Counsel, Connecticut Business and Industry Association: The CBIA testified that, “While we certainly appreciate studying a given topic to better understand its impact we wanted to take this opportunity to highlight the importance of standardized tests to our system of accountability. Assessments objectively measure progress and growth in our schools and are critical to accountability.”

Reported by: Joshua Flores, Assistant Clerk

Date: 4/10/2015