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Work continues on Smarter Balanced test release

Published 6:41 pm, Wednesday, December 18, 2013
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The Smarter Balanced field tests for Darien students are ready to roll out come spring, and gone are the days of taking tests with pencils.

However, test results from the field tests will not be available after the students take them, according to a release from the Darien schools.

"In the absence of individual scores, we will continue to monitor student academic progress using a variety of assessment tools," the release stated. The field tests are practice tests before the real tests are rolled out in the spring of 2015.

Students in grades 3 to 12 will take the tests. However, fifth- and eighth-graders, as per state mandate, are still required to take the Connecticut Mastery Test science testing.

High school juniors will be tested in English language arts and math through the Smarter Balanced. Students in grade 10 will be required to take the Connecticut Academic Performance Test, or CAPT, for science.

The tests are timed, but it is anticipated that students will require roughly three and a half hours to tackle each content area. The tests, which will be taken on a computer, will be done in 45-minute blocks during three testing windows between March 18 and June 6. Work is being done to ensure that it does not conflict with the Advanced Placement testing in the spring for high school students.

"Over the past few years, the district has been making shifts in curriculum and instructional programs to prepare students in all grades for the content of the assessments," according to the release. "A typing program is being launched this month in the elementary schools and plans are under way for practice tests at all levels so that students can learn the computerized format of the tests."

Assistant Superintendent Tim Canty told the Board of Education Dec. 10 that there will be ongoing staff training regarding the testing from January to June.

"As this will be a field test, we will have lessons learned as we cycle through this," Canty said. "We have to assess how this goes and how it impacts our training."

Sophomores who took the CAPT in the 2012-13 school year will be expected to take the Smarter Balanced test in the spring.

The Smarter Balanced Assessment Test -- which is designed to be administered in line with the Common Core State Standards -- must be administered in all schools in spring 2015.

The Common Core State Standards is a new learning model that is designed to change the focus in the classrooms from a teacher-centered learning environment to a learner-centered model.

Darien is not the only town to move toward Smarter Balanced for the upcoming test season. It will join Greenwich, Stamford, Weston, Wilton, Ridgefield, New Canaan, Fairfield and Trumbull. Shelton and Weston have opted to continue distributing the CMT and CAPT.

"At the end of the day, this field test experience is to learn about this process and to get a sense of what it will be like from a content perspective and from an online testing environment perspective so we're well prepared for 2015," Canty said.

mspicer@bcnnew.com; 203-330-6583; @Meg_DarienNew