It’s been several hours since the State Department of Education released the much-anticipated 2014-2015 Smarter Balanced Consortium Assessment (SBAC) results, and so far, the sky is still above us, exactly where it should to be.
The results statewide show that 55.4 of Connecticut’s 3rd through 5th and eleventh graders met or exceeded “achievement level” in English and 39.1 percent met or exceeded achievement level in math.
Before the panic and irrational fear sets in, yes, these scores are lower than in previous years. That’s actually ok.
As the Education Commissioner Dianna Wentzell put it, “these results do not mean that our students are learning less, rather it reflects that we raised the bar.”
“These scores met our expectations. However, we have room to grow and more to do.”
This is a baseline year, meaning these scores are the starting point. It’s important to remember that SBAC is a new test meant to measure a new, more ambitious set of academic standards.
The state had long predicted a dip in test scores, assuming the first year of SBAC scores would mirror the state’s National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) results.
The NAEP, known as the “nation’s report card,” is the largest nationally representative and continuing assessment of students’ knowledge in reading and math on a state-by-state basis. Both the Common Core State Standards and the SBAC were informed by this assessment.
While the results of the two assessments are similar, Connecticut students performed better than anticipated in English.
Of course, none of this information has stopped the Connecticut Education Association (CEA), the state’s largest teachers union, from attempting to strike fear in the hearts of parents across the state by making wild claims about the newly released results.
The president of the CEA Sheila Cohen told CT News Junkie that she doesn’t “believe” the results.
“All indications are that SBAC is not only unfair and invalid, but is also a failed experiment,” said Cohen.
The “indication” she is referring to is a teacher survey the CEA released in May that “found” that a majority of their members thought the SBAC was invalid — a conclusion that would be more believable if it wasn’t for the fact that the teacher’s union spent nearly $500,000 lobbying to eliminate the SBAC.
Their conclusion also completely disregards the fact that these results match up with data from other assessments.
The simple truth is this: CEA leadership doesn’t like the test, so they deny its validity — but that’s not how reality works.
If I step on a scale, and I don’t like the number it shows, try as I might, denying the validity of the measurement doesn’t change how much I weigh.
In the same way, just because the CEA leadership says so, doesn’t mean the SBAC is invalid or “detrimental” to students.
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