Teachers’ Union Pushes for Testing Changes

The union that represents about 40,000 educators in the state proposed legislation Thursday that could lead to widespread changes in the way students are tested in Connecticut.

Connecticut Education Association Executive Director Mark Waxenberg said the proposal intends to do away with high-stakes tests.

“We’ve taken too much time and learning away from the classroom. Our position and our proposal puts it back to the classroom," he explained. "It still maintains standardized testing and accountability but does it in a way that maintains teaching and learning inside the classroom.”

The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, or SBAC test, has been a source of contention around the state. The exam was crafted in part by more than 200 Connecticut teachers and is in line with the Common Core State Standards.

“Our students deserve an education that sets them up to succeed in an increasingly demanding world. That's why we raised the bar for what they should know and be able to do," a spokesman for the Connecticut Department of Education said in a statement. "And when we set higher expectations, our students rise to meet them. We also owe our students, parents and teachers a way to measure student progress towards these goals.”

The spokesman also said the department is always willing to sit down with groups like the CEA and parents to discuss how to improve student performance.

Progress tests are shorter, 20-minute examinations that take place several times a year.

Waxenberg says the CEA approach is the one that should be embraced because it puts the focus on what the teacher is capable of accomplishing with students, rather than dropping everything for one exam.

“Our teachers are telling us that everything stops when SBAC participation comes into play and whenever that’s going to happen we see really a deterioration of the teaching and learning that’s necessary in the classroom,” he said.

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