Governor Dannel Malloy wants to reduce the number of standardized tests taken by Connecticut students. In a letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, he offered a solution to cut down on all of the testing.
High School juniors take a lot of tests: the SAT, the ACT, practice tests for the SAT and ACT, Advanced Placement exams, plus tests in their regular courses. Eleventh-graders in Connecticut are also required to take an additional test, the federal Smarter Balanced exam, a Common Core requirement typically taken by tenth graders.
Bob Schaeffer of the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, or FairTEst says enough is enough. "Smarter Balanced, PARCC (a standardized test not required in Connecticut), the SAT, the ACT, you don't need to test so often, and all of the testing is undermining the time that should be spent teaching and learning," Schaeffer said.
Governor Malloy agrees. In his letter to Duncan, he offered a unique solution to all the testing -- let the SAT serve as the required exam for all eleventh graders, eliminating the Smarter Balanced exam altogether. Malloy pointed out that the SAT will soon be redesigned to reflect Common Core standards, and that in Connecticut, 83 percent of all students already take the SAT.
Shaeffer said it could work, but it's just too early to tell. "It's an unknown era in terms of what tests will actually measure what skills, and whether any will be better than the tests we already have," he said.
Malloy and Duncan apparently agree on the issue of over-testing. In his blog Homeroom, Duncan wrote, "Too much testing can rob school buildings of joy, and cause unnecessary stress. This issue is a priority for us, and we’ll continue to work throughout the fall on efforts to cut back on over-testing."