Norwalk Students To 'Practice' New State Tests This Spring

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Norwalk students will schedule times to take the state's new standardized assessments between mid-March and late May.
Norwalk students will schedule times to take the state's new standardized assessments between mid-March and late May. Photo Credit: File

NORWALK, Conn. – Norwalk’s students will try out the state’s new standardized tests this year -- but only as a trial run for the future.

“Your child’s grades will not be affected by this year’s practice test results, and the results will not be part of your child’s record,” Superintendent Manuel Rivera said in a letter to parents. “Our only obligation to the state is that all of our students participate by taking the test.”

Norwalk Public Schools have signed on to “field test” the Smarter Balanced Assessments this spring, along with other Connecticut districts. The tests will take the place of the Connecticut Mastery Tests and the Connecticut Academic Proficiency Test statewide in the 2014-15 academic year.

Since the assessments are brand-new this year, Norwalk will treat this year’s tests as a “practice test,” Rivera said.

“It is an also important opportunity for our students and teachers to become familiar with how the test works,” Rivera said. “We will also take notice of any adjustments that might need to be made to make sure that Norwalk students are well prepared for the test next year.”

Smarter Balanced Assessments are designed to stick closer to the Common Core State Standard, which Connecticut schools began using this year. The consortium in charge of the tests says it will give parents and teachers better information on how prepared their students are for college and careers after graduation.

The tests are entirely web-based, and will have no pencil-and-paper version. Unlike the previous tests, the exams will not be strictly multiple-choice. The Smarter Balanced Assessments will also include short-answer portions and “performance tasks,” which give students real-world problems to solve.

Norwalk students will take the tests starting in mid-March. Elementary school tests will run from March 18 to April 11, and middle school students and high school juniors are scheduled to test from April 1 to May 30. Students will schedule their own specific times to take the new assessments.

All grade levels will take the language arts and mathematics sections of the Smarter Balanced Assessments. Since the new tests do not include a science portion, grades 5, 8 and 10 will take the CMT and CAPT science exams on March 11.

Experts advise parents to be patient as the new assessments and curriculum are implemented in Norwalk and across the state.

“Connecticut is resetting teaching and learning,” the national PTA says in its guide to parents. “A dip should not necessarily be interpreted as a decline in student learning or in educator performance. Educators expect the short-term decline to improve as teachers and student become more familiar with the standards and better equipped to meet the challenges they present.”

More information and a practice test are now available on the Norwalk Public Schools website. Sample practice tests are also available on the Smarter Balanced Assessment website.

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Comments (6)

The testing of the test might not 'count' this year - but it will from then on - high stakes! Scare tactics? Have you seen the changes they made to FERPA? All the data mining (at least 400 points of data down to student level) that can be used by anyone the government sees fit with no parental consent or knowledge...scary scary stuff. States had to agree to this garbage before it was even written in order to get Race to the Top funds..sound familiar - sign in and we'll find out what's in it. We don't like what's in it and we didn't sign it. It was signed with no local hearings.

I don't know what you looked at as far as SBAC sample questions. I've been through the practice tests and what you quote is nothing SBAC. Further, what we are doing with the field test is NOT high stakes for children.m it is no stakes. Please stop the scare tactics

You can opt your children out of these high stakes tests. I've looked at some sample questions - the information that they are data mining from these tests is unprecedented and downright frightening. FERPA has been amended, so that all mined information will be uploaded into a federal database and available to anyone the government wants to give it to without parental consent or knowledge.
Here is information about opting your child out and some sample questions:
Here is another sample question from the reading proficiancy portion of the 3rd grade SBAC:
Joe and his friend find a wallet on the street corner. The wallet contains a drivers license and a twenty dollar bill........

1. What did Joe and his friend find?
a. A wallet
b. An ostrich
c. Slippers
d. A Watch
2. What was in the wallet that Joe and his friend found?
a. Money
b. pictures
c. Identification
d Answers a and c
3. What would you do if you found money in a wallet?
a. Bring it to the police
b. Try to contact the owner
c. Give it to your parent
d. Keep the money
so...if my child keeps the wallet, is she a more proficient reader than the one who gives it to the police?

They are not just using this testing for data mining in academics and demographics, they are using this system to psychologically and behaviorally profile your children. This information is no longer protected by privacy laws, FERPA has been changed so that this information is in a federal database and is available to anyone who wants it. Colleges, future employers etc.

Exactly, what does any of this do to further my kids education? This is the future of progressive America. We need to get away from this. If our highly paid BOE officials cannot do what we pay them for and run our system themselves then why do we need them?

Common core is just one more step away from local control. The parents, teachers & local officials are much better suited at determining whats best for our kids than some anonymous control freaks. Why do we seem to try so hard to surrender responsibility in CT? What message is that sending? As far as Im concerned our adoption of these standards are either an insult to our educational professionals or an admission that they can't do their job.