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New Educational State Standards to Take Effect by 2014-2015

The assessments for the new common core state standards will replace the CMT and CAPT tests by the 2014-2015 school year.

The CMT and CAPT tests will soon be no more.

New assessments, testing brand new state standards, will be used in Connecticut schools by the 2014-2015 school year.

The standards, developed by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, both state-led as opposed to federally-led groups, have been adopted in every state except for Minnesota, Nebraska, Virginia, Texas and Alaska.

In general, the standards are meant to raise the bar for Connecticut students, as well as promote greater understanding in a narrower curriculum, said Harriet Feldlaufer, Connecticut's Bureau Chief of Teaching and Learning, Pre-K through Grade 12.

"There are some major shifts in terms of the expectations for both teachers and students," she said. "In English language arts, there is more of a focus on text complexity and also being exposed to a wide range of texts."

She added that students will also have to write persuasively, using evidence and tailoring writings to a specific audience. In general, the state standards also call for more frequent and shorter research products for students.

There are also big changes in the mathematics standards.

"The math standards are really a system of coherence in that one year builds to the next. There are certainly fewer topics with a deeper focus," Feldlaufer said.

Tolland school district Curriculum and Instruction Director Kathryn Eidson described the new math standards as providing a deeper understanding of fewer concepts, application of concepts and promoting fluency, speed and efficiency with those concepts.

"Think of the quadratic equation," she said, explaining the focus on practical mathematics applications. "Do you know where it's used? That's what they want to do."

While Connecticut adopted the standards in the summer of 2010, Feldlaufer said that the assessments are still in the development stages.

"They are going to be an assessment system, so it's not just a high stakes, one-time snapshot," she said of the tests replacing the CMT and CAPT tests by the 2014-2015 school year.

The tests, which will require a significant technology infrastructure, will modify the questions to each student's ability, meaning that there will be no artificial upper limit for high-achieving students and that teachers will get a more accurate picture of how students are performing, Feldlaufer said.

The testing will include performance-based and interactive elements. Students will conduct research online or interact with computer-based graphs and animations to complete the tests, according to Eidson.

Feldlaufer acknowledged that some school districts have concerns about being able to provide such a high-tech infrastructure in time for the first assessments.

"I know schools are concerned about the infrastructure for technology," she said. "There are experts working on that, as well."

Connecticut is a governing state of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, which is developing the new assessments. 

In Tolland, Eidson said that the staff will formally implement the new standards in the 2013-2014 school year. She said that the faculty will focus on helping the kids gradually transfer to the new curriculum, since an abrupt shift could be harmful.

"It's going to be particularly hard for the high school. Every year kids going into Algebra I will have had different emphases, a different approach. Every year they're going to be adjusting," she said.

The school district is also working on updating its technology for the assessments. Eidson pointed out that some of the district's computers can still run floppy disks.

For more information on the standards, visit the State Department of Education's website

The latest information on assessment development is available on the SBAC website.

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