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Connecticut Replaces 11th-Grade Standardized Tests With The SATs

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FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. — High school juniors in Connecticut just got a break when it comes to standardized testing — and they will also get to take the SATs for free because of the decision.

The U.S. Department of Education has approved a waiver request from the state to reduce the number of standardized tests required for public high school students in Connecticut. Instead of taking 11th grade Smarter Balance Assessment, students in Connecticut will instead take the SAT — for free, Gov. Dannel Malloy announced Thursday.

The move is to eliminate duplicative testing, reduce over-testing, mitigate student stress, and address parental concerns, Malloy said.

It also levels the playing field by ensuring that those who might not be able to afford the SAT – which typically runs more than $50 – will not be precluded from taking the exam, which is often required for college admission.

“While exams that test college readiness are essential to helping us gauge where we are as a state and help guide instruction, we are doing our part to mitigate over-testing – a common concern among parents. There’s a balance to be struck, and we’re working to reach it,” said Malloy. “We know individualized teaching and instruction works, and we know that student-by-student data can help. But that doesn’t mean we should be overburdening our kids."

Under federal law, Connecticut must administer end-of-year tests to all students in Grades 3 to 8 and once in high school. As part of its transition to college and career-ready standards, Connecticut’s high school exam was recently moved from Grade 10 to Grade 11.

Currently, many 11th-graders take college placement exams, Advanced Placement exams, SAT subject matter tests, and end-of-course exams administered by the school – all in addition to the required test for federal accountability developed by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. Now the SAT will replace the SBAC.

"That’s why we first devised this idea and submitted this waiver last fall, and that’s why we’re so thrilled to be able to deliver for families across Connecticut today," Malloy said of the heavy load of tests for students.

State Education Commissioner Dianna Wentzell said: “This approval allows us to expand opportunity for students as it strengthens accountability to ensure that we deliver on our promise to prepare all students for success in college and careers.”

U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, applauded the decision.

“Our local schools need local solutions, which is why I am glad that today’s announcement will help us reduce duplicative testing requirements and provide free access to SAT tests for all Connecticut students. No Child Left Behind is broken, and we cannot continue to rely on patchwork, temporary waivers to help our students and teachers.”

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