School districts across the state are scrambling to get ready for new standardized tests and in just a couple weeks, students will use computers instead of pencil and paper.
“We hope they’re ready but we know there’s a lot of work to do,” said Anne Marie Cullinan, the Chief Administrative Officer of Waterbury Public Schools. “Still a lot of the technology is coming in and testing is starting so there’s a little bit of crunch time for us.”
Schools now have to follow a new higher educational standard in the Common Core curriculum, and districts are making major upgrades to follow the guidelines. They’ve brought in new computers and software so students can take the tests.
“There are a lot of concerns about technology skills and obviously the content knowledge to be successful,” Cullinan said.
Waterbury alone spent $2,500,000 in state grants on upgrades. This year is a pilot program for the tests; it’s optional for the districts and the scores won’t count. Next year, they will, and all schools will have to participate.
“We've provided $8,300,000 more in the state budget just for the Common Core just to help districts get there,” explained Education Commissioner Stephan Pryor.
Pryor said most districts are prepared and there is no reason for parents to worry.
“There are districts that are coming from behind, starting slowly,” Pryor said. “That's why we're being flexible.”
Back in Waterbury, school leaders said that, although the changes are a huge undertaking, students will benefit in the long run.
“We're getting them ready for careers and college and obviously this is a skill they'll need for our future,” Cullinan explained.
Testing will begin March 18.