Starting Mar. 9, the state of Connecticut will substitute the 11th grade Smarter Balanced (SBAC) exam with the SAT.
“The decision to switch to the SAT is part of broader, ongoing efforts to reduce the amount of standardized tests for public school students in Connecticut,” according to a state of Connecticut press release. “But also to strengthen the assessments administered in schools so that results provide useful, actionable information.”
This change was announced last summer, according to the release.
Governor Dannel Malloy submitted a request for the change, in order to “eliminate duplicative testing, reduce over-testing, mitigate student stress and address parental concerns,” according to the release.
“Beyond the benefits of reducing duplicative testing, the move has an added benefit of leveling the playing field by ensuring those who otherwise might not be able to afford the SAT,” according to the release.
The SATs will now be free to public school students. The exam usually costs more than $50, according to the release.
“My understanding is that Connecticut reasoned that the SAT has clear relevance for students in that it is a barrier related to college going,” University of Connecticut assistant professor of educational policy and leadership, Shaun Dougherty said. “Therefore, by making it required and freely available they can reduce a cost to students from lower-income families who might not otherwise take the test or apply to college.”
Connecticut is not the only state to do this. Maine had adopted something similar to this over a decade ago Dougherty said.
Dougherty said the elimination of the SBAC exam can possibly improve test performance. Also, over the past couple of years many students have ‘opted out’ of state tests, and since the SAT is a state requirement and has use beyond high school, it is thought that ‘opt outs’ will decrease, he said.
Despite the purpose of this change, Dougherty said there are still skeptics who question its effect on classroom curriculum.
“Some who question the wisdom of adopting the SAT have pointed out that the SAT may not be as well aligned to the curriculum being taught in schools, and therefore may create challenges to performing well,” Dougherty said. “However, with rollout of the new SAT that is designed to be more related to skills expected of high school graduates and college students, this disconnect may not be so large as some have argued.”
Malloy had defended this action by stating that it will decrease the burden that Connecticut students are faced with when taking multiple exams.
“We’re committed to taking a smart approach on testing – it’s about finding a balance. 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,” Malloy said in the release. “I would like to thank the thousands of teachers, administrators, and staff members in schools across the state for their unrelenting commitment to supporting our children. By switching to the SAT, we are reducing testing time in high schools and giving educators more time and space to do what they do best – teach our kids.”