As Connecticut transitions to the Common Core State Standards, the state also will adopt a new testing system starting next year. A pilot of the new testing system, known as Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, is underway across the state, including in New Canaan.
As a field test, the SBAC 2014 is designed to be a "no stakes" event for students and teachers, according to a statement by New Canaan Public Schools. In other words, the SBAC 2014 is "a test of the test."
This year's assessment will help assess the readiness of technology systems and to validate test items. The test is administered online through computers or iPad devices.
In a letter to parents of 11th-graders, New Canaan High School Principal Bryan Luizzi said students may not opt out of the field test this year.
"While the state is not using this year's scores as an accountability measure, it is requiring a 95 percent participation rate from the schools," Luizzi wrote. "Students who are absent will be asked to participate in makeup sessions."
Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum Jill Correnty said the test is considered the annual state assessment, which is required, "so there's no legal provision for parents to opt out." The field test will replace Connecticut Mastery Test and Connecticut Academic Performance Test for students in grades 3 to 8 and 11.
Neither students nor schools will receive the test results on an individual level, but the state still must determine if the district-level data would be available, according to Luizzi.
The time allowed for each test is about the same as with the CMT or CAPT.
New Canaan schools have been administering the test in multiple sessions in order to secure enough devices and a strong Internet connection, Correnty said.
The high schools began administering the test March 12. The middle and elementary schools are expected to begin around March 25. Both the high and elementary schools should be done before the April vacation, Correnty said. The middle school tests likely are going into May, she said.
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