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Education Dept. Releases SBAC Test Data Only to Local School Superintendents

by | Aug 20, 2015 4:30am () Comments | Commenting has expired | Share
Posted to: Education, FOIA

Early Wednesday morning, Department of Education Deputy Commissioner Ellen Cohen sent an email to every school superintendent in the state to let them know not to share the results of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium exam with anyone.

The school superintendents have access to the raw data through an online reporting system that’s password protected.

In her email, Cohen warns superintendents not to share the information, even with their boards of education.

“Releasing results (including discussing with the press or sharing results at Board of Education meetings) prior to the lift of the embargo jeopardizes your district’s access to future embargoed releases,” Cohen writes in the email.

CTNewsJunkie requested access to the aggregated draft reports for school districts, but was told they were “drafts” and releasing them would not be in the “public interest.”

There is an exemption under the Freedom of Information Act for preliminary drafts.

These drafts are exempt if “the public agency has determined that the public interest in withholding such documents clearly outweighs the public interest in disclosure.”

Kelly Donnelly, chief of staff at the Education Department, said they are citing that exemption and they don’t want to release the data until it’s finalized because it could be inaccurate. The superintendents and district test coordinators are pouring over the data at the moment for accuracy.

“We set a high bar regarding accuracy of information that we generate and the public should expect nothing less from us,” Donnelly said. “It is our duty to perform our due diligence before releasing it. We look forward to releasing the results once we have completed our final quality control check.”

She said this process is similar to the process taken with the old Connecticut Mastery Test. This is the first year of results for the controversial SBAC exam, a computer-administered test aligned with the Common Core State Standards. Since it’s the first generation of test scores that align to the Common Core State Standards, education officials don’t expect them to be stellar.

Devon Puglia, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s spokesman, said “most would agree that data accuracy, particularly on an issue that affects so many families, is important.”

He added: “The new exams set a new, higher bar to prepare children for college and careers. We look forward to the department’s explaining that new bar, the results, and how we build towards the future in great detail next week.”

Jonathan Pelto, a critic of the Malloy administration, was the first to report on the data “embargo.”

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Comments

(8) Archived Comments

posted by: Diogenese | August 20, 2015  5:26am

Why are we so bad at this? Other states released their data weeks ago. Aggregating these data should be relatively quick, yet the state just can’t seem to get it right.

posted by: Concerned Educator | August 20, 2015  7:16am

“In her email, Cohen warns superintendents not to share the information, even with their boards of education.”

“Releasing results (including discussing with the press or sharing results at Board of Education meetings) prior to the lift of the embargo jeopardizes your district’s access to future embargoed releases,” Cohen writes in the email.

IMO: These scores should be public a few days after Supt. get them. The scores belong to the consumers - students and parent - not administrators. SBAC is DESIGNED to FAIL the majority of the students taking the test - so now the politicians are looking for political cover. Of course the politicians couldn’t pass these assessments - but I imagine public schools, students, and teachers - once again - will be told how awful we are! Test, fail, privatize is what the “deformers” want. Hmmmm…

posted by: Noteworthy | August 20, 2015  7:44am

Then why release it all? So the superintendants can figure out how to spin it? How is that transparent? Clue: It’s not.

posted by: art vandelay | August 20, 2015  9:33am

art vandelay

What’s interesting is that when the list is released the information is listed alphabetically by town.  It’s never listed from best and worst.  It’s up to the individual to figure that out.  My guess is it’s done for a reason. The state does not want people to know what school system scored the highest.  They do not want to promote competition between school districts.  They also do not want people to know how bad inner city schools perform.

posted by: Bluecoat | August 20, 2015  1:19pm

CT has already lowered the passing grade level:
from Ann Policelli Cronin, August 10th, 2015- SBAC Failing Most Connecticut children in more ways than one….
“Lastly, even though the Common Core has a low intellectual bar, most students will fail the tests because the passing grades have been artificially set. Last November, before any students had taken the 2015 SBAC tests, the Connecticut Commissioner of Education, representing Gov. Dannel Malloy, signed an agreement that the 2015 SBAC tests would fail 59 percent of high school juniors in English, 67 percent of high school juniors in math, 56-62 percent of third through eighth graders in English, and 61-68 percent of third through eighth graders in math     (“Cutoff Scores Set for Common-Core Tests”,Education Week, November 17, 2014).”

posted by: Bluecoat | August 20, 2015  1:20pm

What a waste of time and money….
So how much money from the testing consortia has ended up in the coffers of the Education officials of the State of CT? How about in the Coffers to re-elect Malloy?

posted by: Bluecoat | August 20, 2015  1:22pm

It is my understanding that these tests are “adaptive”, which means that two kids sitting next to each other may have the same score, but never had the same questions. Also, these testing companies have the right to purge personal and private information from our kids without Parental Knowledge and/or written permission.

posted by: margosmathandmore | August 21, 2015  10:25am

The scores should be public information, period. If the state doesn’t like the scores, too bad. In time, I’m sure they will finesse the tests and curriculum to achieve what they want—higher scores. After all “tests” today only seem to reflect what is taught to match the items on the test. Students general and specific knowledge of subject matter doesn’t seem to be the goal anymore.

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