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Connecticut Union Offers Proposal to End Common-Core Tests

The Connecticut chapter of the National Education Association is proposing legislation that would do away with assessments administered by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium and replace them with "progress tests," the union announced March 12.

Under the proposal, beginning in the 2016-17 school year, the state would end SBAC tests and instead administer three progress tests of reading, writing, and math of no longer than 25 minutes each. These tests would be used to guide classroom instruction and display students' growth over the course of the year. Each district would have to administer the same exams to students in grades 3-8.

At the 11th grade, a district could choose to assess students using a series of portfolio tasks instead of the progress exams. The legislation would prohibit standardized tests for students in pre-k to grade 2.

A 13-member panel of superintendents, parents, higher education officials, and teachers recommended by their various associations would select and monitor the progress tests.

For accountability, the union's proposal would replace the current test-based system with a "school performance index" that would take into account various gauges for students' critical thinking, creative thinking, and collaboration, alongside the results from the progress tests. It would also take into account of each school's climate, community engagement, resource equity, progress-monitoring strategies, and student engagement. Most of those terms aren't defined in the proposals; the indicators would be selected by yet another panel, this one a 19-member commission with similar constituencies represented as the testing panel.

As we've reported here before, unions in Connecticut, along with New Jersey, are among those that have pushed back especially hard on the common-core aligned tests that are now being phased in to meet the annual-testing requirements of the No Child Left behind Act.

The thing to watch here is whether any lawmakers will sponsor this legislation, how many will sign on if so, and whether it would have any serious chance of becoming (or influencing) policy in the state.

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