Standardized testing returns to Ridgefield

Students at work on their computers as part of trainings Johnson School in Bethel, Conn. gave students for the new state online tests, called Smarter Balanced Assessment, Friday, Feb. 21, 2014.

Students at work on their computers as part of trainings Johnson School in Bethel, Conn. gave students for the new state online tests, called Smarter Balanced Assessment, Friday, Feb. 21, 2014.

Carol Kaliff / Carol Kaliff

RIDGEFIELD — At the beginning of COVID-9 last year, all standardized testing was canceled and while most expected it to be canceled again, officials announced it will resume with some adjustments.

The state asked all school districts to continue with assessments, but there is a chance there might be some changes, Assistant Superintendent Cory Gillette said at this week’s school board meeting. The state traditionally asks for at least 95 percent of the students to participate in each assessment, but it requested a waiver from the federal government to reduce that number. The state hasn’t heard back yet.

“So we are operating as usual,” Gillette said.

The three assessments are the Smarter Balanced Assessment, the Next Generation Science Standards Assessment, and Connecticut SAT School Day Assessment.

The Smarter Balance Assessment is given to grades three through eight and has always been taken online. There are two kinds of this assessment, but Connecticut only gives the performance task in math.

The Next Generations is given online to grades five, eight and 11 and has only been given in the state two times because the standards were only recently implemented. The purpose of the two assessments is to provide a snapshot of where students are, one data point of growth and helps make educational decisions about specific students.

“Caution, the assessment results do not provide a comprehensive understanding of student achievement or program at the district level, and doesn’t give a detailed assessment of how that student did. It does not provide a view of the whole child,” Gillette said.

There are traditional structures that will be followed this year. Students will use school devices, assessments will be completed during school hours and teachers will be present to proctor.

Students who are in cohort c, at home or in a hybrid model will be able to take the Smarter Balances and Next Generation assessments at home. Hybrid students will also be allowed to take one part of the test at school and another at home. The state had created a secure browser and proctoring will be digital, mostly with parents as proctors.

The Connecticut SAT School Day will be completed using paper and pencil, unlike the other two assessments, and is for 11th graders. It will be given on March 24.

The Smarter Balance and Next Generation assessments will be given to the elementary and middle school students in Mary and the high school on April 7.

There will also be a parent workshop on March 18 to review standardized testing.

Board member Tin Malhotra disagreed with the state’s decision of “forcing these tests.”

“This has been a tough year and the fact that they’re still giving tests to kids, it goes against everything they’ve talked about,” Malhotra said. “Emotional, mental growth, mental stability. I think it’s important to make this point that I’m so disappointed that they’re still forcing these tests on these kids and the teachers, this has been tough for everyone.”

She also mentioned that parents will experience stress from proctoring and there’s the issue of the validity of tests as home.

“I do really appreciate that you did say the SBA is a snap shot in time, that you do look at the full child,” she told the Ridgefield administrators. “I think it’s so vital that you say that because I know parents look at the scores and get worried about it.”

gmarku@darientimes.com