State lawmakers hope to do away with SBAC testing for high school juniors

Legislative leaders gathered in the State Capitol Thursday afternoon to announce a bipartisan plan to unburden high school juniors from controversial standardized testing. The proposal would end the requirement that 11th-grade students participate in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) testing. Instead, students would be able to take a nationally recognized college readiness exam.
“This is a common sense proposal that will open doors of opportunity for Connecticut’s students,” said Senate President Martin M. Looney (D-New Haven). “At the same time, we can ease the burden of test-preparation and test-taking on students and teachers alike. I want to thank Sen. Slossberg, Rep. Fleischmann and the ranking members of the Education Committee for their work on this proposal.”
Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-Norwalk) said that currently, 11th-graders are facing an overwhelming line-up of tests, all within a close window of time.
“This proposal will allow students to focus on their classes and what really matters for their futures. It’s time to remove the distractions,” Duff said.
State Sen. Gayle Slossberg said the Senate plan benefits all involved.
“By providing a state sponsored, nationally recognized college readiness test in place of the SBAC, we are opening the door to college for students, relieving the stress of over-testing, restoring instruction time to the classroom, and providing a financial benefit to families and towns alike. This is a win for everyone,” Slossberg said.
SBAC is a Common Core Standards-aligned set of tests that Connecticut administers to students from third grade through eighth grade, and once in high school. Although they are designed as untimed tests, the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium estimates that 11th-graders will spend a total of 8.5 hours taking English language arts and mathematics assessments.
Legislators have heard objections from principals, teachers, parents and students regarding the SBAC tests, state officials said in a press release.
“The most strenuous opposition has focused on the onerous testing burden placed on high school juniors,” the press release states. “In addition to the SBAC test, many juniors also take the SAT, Advanced Placement Exams, and class finals all within a window of just over a month.”
A survey of more than 1,100 K-12 teachers in Connecticut taken between May 8-May 15 found that more than 90% of participating teachers felt “the time it took to complete the SBAC test caused student frustration and apathy”, and just under 90% agreed that SBAC test preparation “takes away significant time and resources from teaching and learning in my classroom,” state officials said.
Over 97% of participating teachers did not agree that SBAC is a useful indicator of school effectiveness, and over 96% agreed with the statement, “I generally view the SBAC as an obstacle for my students to overcome,” according to the state press release.