When the Connecticut State Board of Education met yesterday to approve their 2013 legislative agenda, a primary initiative was to expand the state’s mandatory standardized testing program to include all Connecticut students in the 11th grade.
As of now, the state’s absurd mandatory Connecticut Mastery standardized testing extravaganza begins in grade three and runs through the CAPT test in grade 10.
Last year, Governor Malloy’s “education reform” proposal included a new mandatory test for students in the 11th grade. The Democrats on the General Assembly’s Education Committee quickly quashed the idea recognizing that students are already wasting way too much time being tested when they should be spending time learning.
Well, brace yourselves, the NO Child Left Untested industry is back.
In addition to the state’s mastery test program, school districts are required or are voluntarily engaged in a variety of other standardized testing programs and schemes. There are the Direct Reading Assessment (DRA) or Degrees of Reading Power (DRP) tests. There are the Northwest Evaluation Association Measure of Academic Performance (NWEA MAP) tests.
Then there are the LAS, LAU and NOCTI tests.
Add of course the PSAT and SATs for high school students.
And of course, each round of tests requires hours and hours of practice tests.
As parents know, “Reading Prompts” now begin in 1st grade in order to position children correctly for the first round of testing that takes place two years later in 3rd grade.
One seasoned veteran teacher recently reported that from 3rd grade through 12th grade, students and teachers in suburban districts now spend more than six weeks taking standardized tests, and that doesn’t even count the practice tests.
The time wasted on standardized testing is even greater in our urban school districts like Hartford and Bridgeport. In just the past few years, those districts have shifted from one district wide Connecticut Mastery Test program a year to three rounds of district wide standardized benchmark tests PLUS the Connecticut Mastery Test.
Recently Bridgeport’s massive benchmark testing program crashed their computer system and children spent countless hours sitting around waiting while the information technology people worked with the out-of-state testing companies to try to figure out how to get the testing program back up and running
The Connecticut State Department of Education has estimated that just CMT/CAPT, the mastery test program alone, costs more than $25 million a year and if you add up all the standardized testing efforts, Connecticut and local taxpayers may be shelling out as much as $100 million a year for testing programs.
In nearly every case, the money goes directly to out-of-state, for-profit testing companies.
So here we are.
Cutting essential services to deal with a state budget deficit of more than $400 million this year and looking at a $1.2 billion projected budget deficit next year.
And all this is AFTER the state increased taxes by $1.5 billion during Governor Malloy’s first year in office.
And what do Malloy’s appointees to the Connecticut Board of Education decide to do?
They proposed a whole new round of standardized testing for another whole grade, the grade in which college bound students are supposed to be focusing on their grades, as well as the PSATs and SATs, while other students are looking ahead to prepare for work and other post-secondary education opportunities.
It is, as Wait, What? readers like to call – another “you can’t make this sh*t up” moment.