SBAC Results – Telling us what we know about poverty, language barriers and unmet Special Education needs


Academic experts have proven over and over again that the major factors influencing standardized test results are poverty, language barriers and unmet special education needs.

Wealthier students, students who are fluent in English and students who don’t need special education services do better.

For students who do need special education services, when schools properly fund those programs, students do better.

The Common Core SBAC test is not only designed to fail the majority of public school students, but is particularly discriminatory because the SBAC scam’s definition of “success” is even more directly connected to wealth, proficiency in the English language and the lack of any need for special education services.

The following chart makes the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory nature of the Common Core SBAC test extremely clear.  The chart rank orders the percent of students deemed “proficient” in MATH, by town, according to the 2015 Common Core.

Note that eighth graders who live in wealthier towns with few English Language Learners and the funds necessary to provide special education services score higher on the SBAC Math test, while students who come from communities in which there is significant poverty, large numbers of students who aren’t fluent in English and lack the money to provide sufficient special education services do poorly.

Connecticut’s didn’t need to spend $50 million dollars in scarce taxpayer funds and tens of millions more at the local level, over the past two years to identify the problem.

The problem is that poverty, language barriers and unmet special education services reduce academic performance.

Experts, teachers, school administrators and policymakers knew what the problem was decades ago before the Connecticut Mastery Tests were even begun and they have known it as the CMTs were given every year.

The Common Core SBAC testing is an extraordinary waste of time, money and effort.

More testing is not the answer.

The answer is for Governor Dannel Malloy and the Connecticut General Assembly to adopt a fair, equitable and Constitutional school funding formula that provides schools with the resources needed to ensure all of Connecticut’s children get the quality education they need and deserve!

Percent of 8th Graders deemed “proficient” by the SBAC test, by town:

School District Mathematics
Percent at Level 3 & 4:
 Meets or Exceeds the Achievement Level
Darien School District 83.4%
Westbrook School District 76.7%
Avon School District 76.6%
Farmington School District 74.3%
New Canaan School District 71.7%
Guilford School District 69.1%
Kent School District 69.0%
Regional School District 05 67.9%
Ridgefield School District 67.6%
Easton School District 66.4%
Mansfield School District 66.1%
Canton School District 65.9%
Preston School District 65.7%
Clinton School District 65.3%
Bozrah School District 65.0%
Westport School District 64.9%
Regional School District 07 64.7%
Tolland School District 64.7%
Salem School District 63.6%
Regional School District 10 63.4%
Simsbury School District 63.2%
Granby School District 62.3%
Pomfret School District 62.1%
Glastonbury School District 61.8%
East Granby School District 61.3%
Greenwich School District 61.2%
Redding School District 61.1%
Hartland School District 60.9%
Madison School District 60.5%
Salisbury School District 60.0%
Ellington School District 59.8%
Regional School District 08 59.7%
Weston School District 59.2%
Willington School District 58.7%
Ledyard School District 57.9%
Cheshire School District 57.5%
South Windsor School District 57.4%
Regional School District 15 57.1%
East Lyme School District 56.9%
Brookfield School District 56.0%
Newtown School District 55.8%
Wilton School District 55.4%
Fairfield School District 55.1%
Voluntown School District 52.6%
Portland School District 52.5%
New Fairfield School District 52.2%
Southington School District 52.2%
Colchester School District 52.0%
Old Saybrook School District 51.9%
Shelton School District 51.4%
Regional School District 18 50.4%
Rocky Hill School District 50.3%
West Hartford School District 49.3%
Monroe School District 49.0%
Litchfield School District 48.8%
Berlin School District 48.4%
Trumbull School District 48.3%
Stonington School District 48.2%
Regional School District 04 47.3%
East Haddam School District 47.3%
Canterbury School District 46.7%
Regional School District 17 46.6%
Seymour School District 46.3%
Suffield School District 45.4%
Columbia School District 45.3%
Regional School District 13 45.2%
Stafford School District 45.1%
Elm City College Preparatory Charter School 44.9%
Somers School District 44.3%
Coventry School District 43.4%
Thomaston School District 42.9%
Regional School District 12 42.9%
Amistad Academy Charter School 41.8%
Newington School District 41.5%
Bethel School District 41.4%
Bolton School District 41.4%
Odyssey Community Charter School 41.2%
North Haven School District 41.1%
Waterford School District 40.6%
North Canaan School District 40.5%
Bridgeport Achievement First Charter School 39.7%
Regional School District 14 39.6%
Oxford School District 38.8%
Integrated Day Charter School 38.7%
Milford School District 38.1%
Regional School District 16 37.9%
Groton School District 36.2%
Wolcott School District 35.4%
Montville School District 35.4%
Wethersfield School District 35.2%
Stamford School District 35.0%
Griswold School District 35.0%
Windsor Locks School District 34.9%
Wallingford School District 34.8%
East Hampton School District 34.4%
Bristol School District 33.9%
Watertown School District 32.4%
Woodstock School District 32.3%
Lebanon School District 32.2%
New Milford School District 31.4%
Branford School District 30.8%
Windsor School District 30.2%
Vernon School District 30.1%
Plymouth School District 29.7%
Cromwell School District 29.5%
Plainville School District 28.6%
Hamden School District 27.0%
East Windsor School District 25.7%
Ashford School District 25.5%
Park City Prep Charter School 25.3%
Middletown School District 25.0%
Norwalk School District 24.7%
Danbury School District 23.8%
Putnam School District 23.6%
Lisbon School District 22.9%
North Stonington School District 22.9%
Sprague School District 22.7%
Stratford School District 22.2%
Manchester School District 22.1%
West Haven School District 22.0%
The Gilbert School District 21.9%
Jumoke Academy Charter School 21.3%
Naugatuck School District 21.0%
Regional School District 06 20.4%
Torrington School District 20.1%
The Bridge Academy Charter School 19.1%
Norwich School District 18.1%
Thompson School District 17.6%
Derby School District 16.8%
Bloomfield School District 16.5%
East Haven School District 16.1%
Killingly School District 16.0%
Enfield School District 15.8%
North Branford School District 15.5%
Brooklyn School District 15.5%
New Haven School District 15.0%
New Beginnings Inc. Charter School 14.3%
Meriden School District 13.6%
Windham School District 13.3%
Highville Charter School 12.5%
Plainfield School District 12.3%
Ansonia School District 12.1%
Hartford School District 11.9%
New Britain School District 11.8%
East Hartford School District 10.4%
New London School District 8.3%
Bridgeport School District 8.3%
Regional School District 11 8.1%
Waterbury School District 7.3%
Achievement First Hartford Academy Inc. Charter School 6.9%

Oh no!  69.4% of Connecticut juniors are FAILURES according to SBAC math results


As designed, intended and projected, the vast majority of Connecticut stuents have been labeled as failures according the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core SBAC math test results.

With the Malloy administration finally releasing the long awaited SBAC results, parents can see for themselves what happens when students are tested on content that they haven’t even been taught.

According to the Common Core SBAC results, a majority of Connecticut students  – in every grade – failed to meet the so-called “achievement” level.

The destructive testing scam has labeled;

52% of 3rd graders as failure

56% of 4th graders as failures

63% of 5th graders as failures

64% of 6th graders as failures

61% of 7th graders as failures

63% of 8th graders as failures

And 69% of 11th graders as failures  


Grade Percent at Level 3 & 4:
Meets or Exceeds the Achievement Level
3 48.0%
4 44.2%
5 36.9%
6 37.3%
7 38.8%
8 36.8%
11 30.6%
State 39.1%


The Common Core SBAC Math results have also labeled

92% of students requiring special education services as failures

93% of students who need help with the English language as failures

Percent at Level 3 & 4:
 Meets or Exceeds the Achievement Level
Students with Disabilities 8.2%
English Learners 7.0%


Students from poorer families are also unfairly labeled by the SBAC testing

85% of students who get a free school lunch have “failed”

And 74% of students who qualify for a reduced price lunch have “failed”

As proof that these tests are driven in no small part by family income, compared to students who get free or reduced lunches, “ONLY” 46% of students who can afford to pay for their own school lunches have been deemed failures by the SBAC math test.

Statewide results by free or reduced priced meal eligibility status Mathematics
Percent at Level 3 & 4:
 Meets or Exceeds the Achievement Level
Free 15.4%
Reduced 26.4%
Not Eligible 52.3%
All Students 39.1%


Check back for more information about the absurd SBAC testing scheme

Malloy’s Education Commissioner blames teachers for lack of support for Common Core SBAC Testing


In what may be the most incredible, insulting, outrageous and absurd statement yet from Governor Malloy’s administration about the Common Core SBAC testing program, Malloy’s Commissioner of Education is now blaming teachers for the fact that there is growing opposition to the SBAC testing scam.

In their warped world where “war is peace, freedom is slavery, ignorance is strength,” these people have the audacity to blame the victims for the crimes that are of the politicians’ making.

Forget that the Common Core Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium Test (SBAC) is unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory.

Forget that the SBAC test is designed to fail the vast majority of Connecticut students.

Forget that the SBAC test is particularly discriminatory for children who come from poorer backgrounds, those who face English Language barriers and those who require special education services.

Forget that the SBAC test results are being used to inappropriately “evaluate” teachers

Forget that state taxpayers have paid well over $50 million for this disastrous test program just over the past two years and local taxpayers have paid tens of millions of dollars more.

And forget that the SBAC testing has wasted hundreds of hours of instructional time, time that our children could have been getting the education they actually need and deserve.

Forgetting all that and proving that Governor Malloy’s administration has lost all contact with reality, the Commissioner of Education is now claiming that the lack of support for the Common Core SBAC tests is the fault of Connecticut’s public school teachers.

The message from Malloy and his administration is loud and clear… They will say and do anything to defend the indefensible.

In a MUST READ article in yesterday’s Journal Inquirer newspaper entitled, Ed commissioner: Teachers must get students to buy into testing, reporter Mike Savino writes,

Don’t count the state’s education commissioner among those who think results from the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium test are useless because the exam is flawed.


Education Commissioner Dianna Wentzell said Thursday that students who negatively viewed the Smarter Balanced test, referred to as the SBAC, are only reflecting what they see from teachers.

Wait, What?

The Malloy administration is actually suggesting that parents and students are rising up against the unfair testing system because teachers aren’t doing enough to mislead people about the testing scam?

According to the JI story, Malloy’s Commissioner of Education went even further,

Wentzell also said the state Department of Education conducted a survey of students in 2014, when some school systems took the Smarter Balanced test as part of a field study, and found students had an “enthusiasm” for it.

She said one of her own children, who took the test as a third-grader last year, reacted as if his school had acquired a new computer game.

Are you ****** kidding me?

The SBAC test is designed to label the majority of children as failures but it’s okay because one of the Commissioner’s own children took the test and, “reacted as if his school had acquired a new computer game.”

Meanwhile, as the JI explains;

The Education Department has not yet disclosed the Smarter Balanced results, rejecting a request under the Freedom of Information Act submitted by the Journal Inquirer on the same day the state distributed the information to superintendents.

The department has claimed that the results are exempt because they are preliminary data and “the public interest in withhold documents outweighs the public interest in disclosure.”

A spokesman said the department still is finalizing data and shared it so superintendents could ensure accuracy.

Wait, What?  and the JI, among others, have filed Freedom of Information complaints against the State Department of Education in an effort to force the state agency to release the SBAC test results to the public.

You can read the entire JI story at:

Malloy – You can’t hide the sham 2015 SBAC results forever!


The January 2, 2015 the Wait, What? headline read;

Governor Malloy – Our children are not stupid, but your system is!

The initial Wait, What? post of 2015 may very well be the most important of the year because it reiterates the disturbing truth about the Common Core, the Common Core testing scheme and what students, parents and teachers will be facing in the next few months.

The shocking truth is that Governor Dannel Malloy and his administration have agreed to a Common Core testing program that is designed to label the vast majority of our children as failures.

Here we are eight months later and tens of thousands of Connecticut children were given a Common Core test designed to label them as failures.

Two months after other SBAC states like Washington and Oregon have released their Common Core SBAC results, Governor Dannel Malloy and his administration continue to play games.

The Common Core Testing scheme is a scam that cost Connecticut taxpayers tens of millions of dollars… And yet the State Department of Education continues to rationalize the disastrous testing program.

Here is another powerful commentary piece from fellow public education advocate and regular Wait, What? commentator Jack Bestor.

It appeared first in the CT Mirror: Whither the elusive Connecticut SBAC results?

Whither the elusive Connecticut SBAC results? (By Jack Bestor)

Those oh-so-elusive SBAC results: after millions of dollars squandered on broadband improvements, tedious test prep, and time diverted from actual learning, our students, parents, and teachers have been prevented from getting the test results because no one in educational leadership today has figured out how to “spin” the results without facing the consequences of this poorly designed, invalid, questionably-standardized assessment that was perpetrated on our public school students.

Despite the reluctance of school administrators to speak up and push back against this ludicrous accountability exercise that has been promoted by politicians and corporate education reformers who have many self-interested reasons for maintaining this misguided testing endeavor, it is well-known that the “standardized” testing mandate only serves to continue the false narrative of failing American public education in order to drive the profit-making agenda of those who seek to privatize education and undermine the public trust.

For an insightful look at the test industry, Todd Farley’s under-publicized 2009 chronicle, Making The Grades, recounting his many years working in the test industry would make anyone question why we place any stock whatsoever in our children’s “standardized” test results.  Any test that is designed to fail the majority of test takers has no purpose in the education of children.

Rhetorical flourishes citing “rigor” and “higher critical thinking” are nothing but empty words, as repeatedly the test questions have been criticized by both parents and educators and the test answers have been notoriously ambiguous and often wrong.  There is no amount of test industry algorithms that can justify this educational malpractice.

Since the parents of all students in public schools were discouraged from opting their children out of this state-mandated “standardized” test experiment, it should be gratifying to those who saw through the misinformation and controversy associated with the Common Core testing requirement and, with courage and conviction, refused to allow their children to take this unnecessary and unproven test.

When the results are finally reported to your child’s school, you can be thankful there will be no “sticky label” to apply on your child’s permanent record card and no single data-point to upload into your child’s computerized learning profile.  Furthermore, there will be no woefully inadequate measure of your child’s reading, writing, and math skills for teachers and school administrators to use in any future planning of your child’s school program.

Instead, you can rely on your child’s previous teacher — who for a full school year strove to understand and nurture your child’s individual learning needs — to share with receiving teachers what was found to work in developing each student’s academic skills, confidence, and interpersonal abilities.  You are to be congratulated for advocating for your child against the pressures to conform and I hope you will be able to trust that the teachers working with your child will care and protect him/her from any unfair practice derived from this unproven test experiment.

Although unable to come right out and say it for fear of retribution, most teachers do not believe in the top-down, dictatorial approach of the corporate education reform movement that has a stranglehold on American public education today and hope that it will implode of its own malfeasance.

Until then — as parents — you must continue to ask probing questions of district administrators who are mandated to adhere to the flawed educational policies developed by politicians, lobbyists, business leaders, and millionaire philanthropists who have strong opinions, but no actual experiential knowledge of how children learn.  It is only when school administrators, elected board of education members, and state legislators hear the anger and frustration of parents (and voters) that there can be meaningful pressure brought to bear on those who promote the continuation of these failed educational policies.

Jack Bestor of Sandy Hook is a recently retired school psychologist who, for 41 years, enjoyed working with students, parents, and his many colleagues.  He is a past recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the CT Association of School Psychologists.

You can read the original piece at:

Media coverage of Malloy administration’s refusal to release SBAC results


The power of the media to frame or interpret a news event can be clearly seen in the way Connecticut media outlets covered the Malloy administration’s latest effort to withhold the results of the 2015 Common Core SBAC results.

The CT Newsjunkie focused on the real issue at hand.

Malloy’s Commissioner of Education used the Hartford Courant article to pontificate about the “benefits” of the Common Core testing scheme and the CT Mirror didn’t even bother to cover the breaking news at all.

Across the country states that gave the 2015 Common Core SBAC tests last spring started providing their citizens with information about the test results nearly two months ago, but the Malloy administration has been withholding Connecticut’s results from the public.

Yesterday, the State Department of Education provided town-specific results to each local superintendent of schools but refused to release the statewide results and threatened local officials that they could not publicly discuss the results – in direct violation of the Connecticut Freedom of Information Act – because the results were “embargoed” – a concept that is not allowed under Connecticut’s open record law.

To read the Commissioner of Education’s bull about the benefits of the Common Core SBAC testing scam go to the Hartford Courant’s “Education Commissioner: New Test Scores To Usher In New Era.”

To learn more about the Malloy administration’s ongoing effort to withhold public information read the CT Newsjunkie article, “Education Dept. Releases SBAC Test Data Only to Local School Superintendents.”

CT Newsjunkie writes;

Early Wednesday morning, Department of Education Deputy Commissioner Ellen Cohen sent an email to every school superintendent in the state to let them know not to share the results of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium exam with anyone.

The school superintendents have access to the raw data through an online reporting system that’s password protected.

In her email, Cohen warns superintendents not to share the information, even with their boards of education.

“Releasing results (including discussing with the press or sharing results at Board of Education meetings) prior to the lift of the embargo jeopardizes your district’s access to future embargoed releases,” Cohen writes in the email.

CTNewsJunkie requested access to the aggregated draft reports for school districts, but was told they were “drafts” and releasing them would not be in the “public interest.”

There is an exemption under the Freedom of Information Act for preliminary drafts.

These drafts are exempt if “the public agency has determined that the public interest in withholding such documents clearly outweighs the public interest in disclosure.”

Kelly Donnelly, chief of staff at the Education Department, said they are citing that exemption and they don’t want to release the data until it’s finalized because it could be inaccurate. The superintendents and district test coordinators are pouring over the data at the moment for accuracy.

Data isn’t finalized?

While the Malloy administration claims the statewide information is in “draft form,” school superintendents were provided data that is not in draft form nor was it labeled as being in draft form whatsoever.  While the names of individual students cannot be released, the basic information towns were given cannot be withheld by claiming the information is “embargoed.”

Connecticut’s parents, teachers and taxpayers deserve the truth.  The state of Connecticut has spent more than $50 million over the past two years on the sham of Common Core testing.  Local communities have spent even more.  It is time for the Malloy administration to release the data!

For the full  CTNewsjunkie story go to:

Malloy administration gives towns the Common Core SBAC test results but not the public


Action violates Connecticut’s Freedom of Information Act.

This morning Governor Dannel Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Diana Wentzell, held the state’s annual back-to-school meeting for Connecticut superintendents at A.I. Prince Technical High School in Hartford.

Considering his anti-public education agenda, it was not surprising that Malloy was a no-show at the meeting.  Instead, Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman attended, despite the fact that both Malloy and Wyman are attending a joint event at 10 a.m. in nearby Middletown.

State Department of Education staff informed school superintendents that starting today they could access their district’s 2015 SBAC test results via the State Department of Education’s website, but they could not share the information since the results were “embargoed.”


Superintendents were warned that the state will not be making the test results public until the week of August 31st, 2015.

Local school officials were told that they were not allowed to inform parents, teachers, their local Board of Education or the public about the SBAC results until they are released by the state.

In a companion memo provided to superintendents, the State Department of Education wrote;

“It is critical that districts do not make embargoed results public before the embargo is lifted.  Releasing results (including discussing with the press or sharing results at Board of Education meetings) prior to the lift of the embargo jeopardizes your district’s access to future embargoed releases.”

States such as Washington and Oregon provided their citizens with their statewide Common Core test results nearly eight weeks ago, but the Malloy administration has consistently failed to make Connecticut’s results public.

Providing school superintendents with the 2015 SBAC results but claiming those results are “embargoed” is particularly inappropriate and offensive.

“Embargoed” is a PR term used with reporters when issuing selected press releases and has no meaning when it comes to the notion of public access to public information.  Connecticut’s Freedom of Information law makes absolutely no exception for “embargoed” information.

Making public information available to a select group of people but withholding it from others is a serious violation of Connecticut’s Freedom of Information law.

The Malloy administration should immediately make the 2015 SBAC results public.  If they refuse, the Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission should force them to release the information and investigate who was behind this effort to keep public information secret.

Common Core tests succeeding in labeling children as failures


“It’s only because of their stupidity that they’re able to be so sure of themselves.”  – Franz Kafka, The Trail (1925)

Or are we the stupid ones for letting the “education reformers” get away with undermining our children, their teachers and our public schools?

While Connecticut parents and teachers continue to wait for the Malloy administration to release the results of the 2015 Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) testing scheme, updates from other states around the nation are pouring in.

The message is clear and consistent…

The Common Core tests were designed to fail the vast majority of students and the vast majority of students are failing.

The corporate education reform industry and their lackeys are yelping with glee as they pontificate about how bad our schools, our teachers and our children are doing – but their claims are nothing short of a lie.

Perhaps they believe that parents don’t know the underlying truth about the Common Core testing scam, but the harsh reality is that when you test children on subjects that they have not learned, they don’t pass.

And not only are the Common Core tests unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory, but to make matters a thousand times worse, thanks to Dannel Malloy’s “reform” initiatives, Connecticut will be using the outrageous test results to not only label children as failures, but to punish public school teachers.

According to published reports from Pennsylvania, that state’s Common Core testing scheme has translated into a nearly 80 percent drop in proficiency rates among some groups of students.

According to the Times-Tribune newspaper, in Old Forge, Pennsylvania;

“Only 13 percent of students in eighth grade scored at proficient or advanced levels in math, down from 79 percent in 2014”.

In nearby North Pocono,

“Math proficiency at the middle school went from 76 percent to 38 percent. At Valley View, eighth-grade math proficiency dropped from 74.4 percent to 18 percent.

The statewide numbers in Pennsylvania paint a grim picture;

Here are the state-wide results from the “math” portion of Pennsylvania’s Common Core test which is called the PSSA;

Grade: Math  Math  Difference:
2013-14: 2014-15:
3 75.1% 48.5% -26.6%
4 76.3% 44.5% -31.8%
5 77.2% 42.8% -34.4%
6 72.0% 39.8% -32.2%
7 76.7% 33.1% -43.6%
8 73.6% 29.9% -43.7%

Note that the absurd test has determined that 3 in 10 8th graders have “failed.”

Sooner or later, the Malloy administration will release Connecticut’s 2015 SBAC results and parents and teachers will see what tens of millions of dollars in wasted public funds has produced.

Wendy Lecker Notes – Want to know how a student is doing? Ask a teacher – Forget SBAC


Fellow Connecticut public education advocate and columnist Wendy Lecker has yet another MUST READ piece in last weekend’s Stamford Advocate and the Hearst Media Group’s other Connecticut media outlets.

The Common Core SBAC testing fiasco is becoming a major issue (See NEWSFLASH: Washington State on 2015 SBAC results – “NEVER MIND” and  Shhhh… Don’t tell but Malloy administration will be releasing SBAC test results as early as next week.

Wendy Lecker digs deeper in a new piece entitled, Want to know how a student is doing? Ask a teacher.

A friend of mine had a priceless reaction to the specious claim by education reformers that our children need standardized tests so parents can know how they are doing in school. He laughed and said that in 20 years of parent conferences no teacher ever felt the need to pull out his children’s standardized tests to provide an accurate picture of how well they were learning.

Parents have relied on teachers’ assessments to gauge their children’s progress and most have pretty much ignored their children’s standardized test scores. For decades, this approach has served parents and students well. Recent research shows that non-standardized, human assessments of student learning are superior to standardized tests of all kinds.

I have written about the voluminous evidence showing that a high school GPA is the best predictor of college success, and that the SAT and ACT, by contrast, are poor predictors. (

Even standardized college placement tests, tests ostensibly designed to measure “college readiness,” fail miserably at that task — with real and damaging consequences for students.

College remediation is often used as a weapon by education reformers. Overstating college remediation rates was one of the tactics used by Arne Duncan to foment hysteria about the supposedly sorry state of America’s public schools and justify imposing the Common Core and its accompanying tests nationwide. As retired award-winning New York principal Carol Burris has written, while Duncan and his allies claimed that the college remediation rate is 40 percent, data from the National Center on Education Statistics show that the actual percentage is 20 percent.

Exaggeration is not the only problem with college remediation. Many of the students placed in remedial classes in college do not even belong there.

Judith Scott-Clayton of Columbia’s Teachers’ College and her colleagues examined tens of thousands of college entrants and found that one-quarter to one-third of those placed in remedial courses based on standardized placement tests were mis-assigned. These students wrongly placed in remedial classes could have passed a college- level course with a B or better. Moreover, when students are mis-assigned to remedial courses, the likelihood of them dropping out of college increases by eight percentage points. These high-stakes tests produce high-cost errors.

Scott-Clayton and her colleagues found that by incorporating high school grades into the college placement decisions, misplacements were corrected by up to a third, and there was a 10-percentage point increase in the likelihood that those students placed in a college-level course would complete that course with a grade of C or better.

Once again, non-standardized, human assessments of a student’s learning are more helpful than standardized tests.

Some institutions are getting that message. After California’s Long Beach City College began incorporating high school grades into placement decisions, the rate of students who placed into and passed college English quadrupled. The rate for math tripled. Just last month, George Washington University joined the long and growing list of colleges and universities that dropped the requirement for SAT or ACT scores.

These institutions of higher education understand that standardized tests are poor predictors “college readiness” and that high school grades are superior.

Yet too many policymakers cling to the failed strategy of using standardized tests to try to tell us what teachers are much better at telling us. Congress is set to reaffirm the requirement that states administer annual standardized tests, even though the data show that a child who passes one year is very likely to pass the next. Washington, West Virginia and California announced plans to use the not-yet validated and increasingly unpopular SBAC test in its college placement decisions.

California announced this move even as it is considering ceasing the use of SBACs to judge schools. Equally hypocritical, Washington State’s Board of Education just announced that it is lowering the SBAC high school passing score below the “college-ready” level arbitrarily adopted by the SBAC consortium last year.

Amid opt-outs and outrage at the SBACs, Connecticut passed a law replacing the un-validated 11th grade SBAC with the SAT as a required high school test; even though the SAT has been proven to have little predictive value for determining college success.

The key to ensuring and determining college readiness is clearly not high-stakes error-prone standardized tests. If politicians really want to understand how to prepare our children for college, maybe they should try a new — for them- approach and consult experts with a great track record of knowing what makes kids college-ready. Maybe they should ask some teachers.

You can read and comment on Wendy Lecker’s column at:


Better school libraries, not more Common Core testing, is a real Civil Rights issue


The Corporate Education Reform Industry and its allies have been spending a lot of energy claiming that requiring more Common Core standardized testing is a “Civil Rights” issue because it serves as the mechanism to determine which public schools are failing.  How else, they assert, will we ever be able to determine where to invest public dollars in order to provide children of color with the support they need and deserve to become college and career ready?

Of course, the entire claim is nothing but a scam considering the fact that standardized test scores are driven by poverty, English language barriers and unmet special education needs, all of which are  factors that can be identified without turning classrooms into little more than standardized testing factories.

But truth has never been a concern to those who are spending hundreds of millions of dollars promoting the notion that privatization, charter schools, the Common Core and the Common Core testing scheme are the solutions to reducing the nation’s achievement gap.

Calling for more testing, rather than recognizing the fundamental challenges associated with poverty and language barriers, has become the overarching strategy of the education reformers.

Their education philosophy is driven by the notion that when it comes to ensuring academic achievement, test prep and a curriculum focused on math and English language arts trumps a comprehensive school experience in which children are given the full range of courses, programs and services they need in order to learn and prosper.

In this era of scarce resources, the fact that more money is being spent on more testing, while important educational assets like school libraries are allowed to disintegrate, is a quintessential example of the stupidity surrounding the education reform agenda and a reflection of the real Civil Rights issues that are facing poorer school districts.

In Connecticut, Democratic Governor Dannel Malloy and his General Assembly recently adopted a budget that devotes more than $50 million over the next two years for the SBAC Common Core testing program, while doing nothing to address the very real Civil Rights violations associated with the fact that that tens of thousands of black and brown public school children don’t even have access to a quality school library.

Walk into any one of Farmington Connecticut’s elementary schools and you’ll find a vibrant school library with an average of 60 books per child and trained library professionals to help students learn how to fully utilize libraries and the portal to information and knowledge that library’s provide.

A visit to a Fairfield elementary school will reveal a center of learning with at least 50 library books per child and Greenwich is not far behind with 45 books per child.

By comparison, there are 17 elementary schools in Bridgeport with so-called “School libraries” that have less than 15 books per child, and a growing number of schools that have no school library at all. Library professionals are just as scarce.

And not surprisingly, considering the State of Connecticut’s historic underfunding of its public schools, Bridgeport is not alone.

While the State of Connecticut and its school districts can find the money for the technology required to institute the Common Core testing program, some can’t or refuse to come up with the funds necessary to provide students with a quality school library.

The following chart reveals just the tip of the iceberg;

School Districts with libraries that have less than 15 books per child # of Elementary Schools
Bridgeport 17
Hartford 9
New Haven 3
Meriden 3
West Haven 3


Other towns with elementary schools that have libraries with less than 15 books per child include Ansonia, East Hartford, Griswold, Naugatuck, New Britain, Rocky Hill and Shelton.

And although it is the 21st Century and Connecticut has the highest per capita income in the nation, there are elementary schools in Connecticut that don’t have any school libraries at all.  That list includes schools in East Hartford, Hartford, New Britain, New Haven and elsewhere.

Oh, and what about those magical “charter schools” that the education reformers claim will “save” the poor and minority children?

According to the official school profile reports filed with the Connecticut State Department of Education, Achievement First Bridgeport Charter School, Achievement First Hartford Charter School, Achievement First Elm City Charter School and Side by Side Charter School in Norwalk have no school library at all.

Meanwhile, Highville Charter School (Hamden) has a library with only 12 books per child and the infamous Capital Prep (Hartford) has a library with 13 books per child, but as reported previously, students aren’t allowed to take books out of that library.

The charter school and corporate education reform industry lobby groups have spent nearly $1.4 million so far this year promoting Governor Malloy’s education reform agenda.

Just imagine what they could be doing with those funds if they were actually serious about helping poor children succeed in school.

Fellow Education advocate and columnist Sarah Darer Littman has written extensively about the school library issue in Connecticut.  Start by reading her piece in CTNewsjunkie entitled, College, Career and Democracy ready? Not without a trained librarian

Blumenthal and Murphy vote NO on parents’ right to opt out of Common Core testing


In an astonishing display of utter disregard for Connecticut’s public students and parents, Connecticut’s two United States Senators, Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, voted against an amendment that would have recognized a parents’ right to protect their child from the unfair, inappropriate and discriminatory Common Core testing scam.

Although a day doesn’t go by that Dick Blumenthal and Chris Murphy don’t hold a press conference, issue a press release, send out an email or Tweet some statement about how they are fighting for Connecticut’s citizens, when they had the opportunity to stand with Connecticut’s parents and public school advocates they voted NO!

Blumenthal and Murphy VOTED NO to an amendment that would have required school districts to notify parents about federally mandated assessments (the massive common core testing program) and would have made it clear that parents may opt their children out of the test.

Refusing to recognize a parents inalienable right to protect their children from a testing scheme designed to fail the vast majority of Connecticut’s public school children, Blumenthal and Murphy both voted NO on Senate Amendment 2162 to Senate Amendment 2089 to S. 1177 (Every Child Achieves Act of 2015).

In addition to requiring that parents be notified about the testing, the language of the amendment stated;

“[U]pon the request of the parent of a child made…for any reason or no reason at all stated by the parent, a State shall allow the child to opt out of the assessments described in this paragraph. Such an opt-out, or any action related to that opt-out, may not be used by the Secretary, the State, any State or local agency, or any school leader or employee as the basis for any corrective action, penalty, or other consequence against the parent, the child, any school leader or employee, or the school.”

According to the Washington Post story entitled, Senate rejects plan to allow parents to opt out of standardized tests

“Current law requires school districts to ensure that 95 percent of children take the exams, a provision meant to ensure that administrators don’t encourage low performers to stay home on exam day. The Senate bill mandates 95 percent participation of students who are required to be tested, but allows states to decide whether children who opt out are among those who are required to be tested.

But under the House bill, parents who opt their children out of tests would not be counted in the participation rate of any state, effectively removing them from the accountability system altogether. Democrats and civil rights groups opposed that provision, saying it opened a loophole to hide achievement gaps.”

With different versions in the House and Senate, a Conference Committee will be needed to negotiate a final master bill.  That piece of legislation will then come up for a final vote before going to President Obama for his signature or veto.

It is beyond disturbing that self-described “champions of the people” would vote against such an important and fair amendment.

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