Is the Common Core a good thing for New Haven students?
Common Core is a good thing because it raises the bar for all of our students and will teach them the kinds of critical thinking and problem-solving skills that will prepare them to succeed in college and compete for the best jobs in a global workforce. While Common Core creates higher standards for our students, its success depends on having creative, passionate and skilled teachers in the classroom. New Haven teachers and school leaders have risen to the challenge and we are ahead of the curve in implementing the higher standards.
What is the new Common Core test called SBAC?
Along with the new standards comes a new test, called SBAC, which stands for Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. The SBAC test will replace the Connecticut Mastery Test (CMT) and Connecticut Academic Performance Test (CAPT). This year, students in grades 3-8 and 11 will take the SBAC as a “field test,” which means the test will not count for scoring purposes this year. SBAC testing will occur in the spring, starting in April.
The CMT science test, in grade 5 and 8, and the CAPT science test, in grade 10, will continue to be given in March and scores made available for schools and students.
What can I expect with the SBAC test?
Students will take the SBAC test on the computer, so we are working with schools to make sure they have the right technology to support the tests. We are also working inside and outside the classroom and with community partners to provide opportunities for students to work on typing and computer schools in preparation for the test.
Students can expect to find the new test more challenging and questions more complex. Next year, the SBAC test will be “adaptive,” meaning it will ask a harder question if a student gets one right, or an easier question if the student gets one wrong. This will help us better pinpoint where the student is in his or her learning.
Also, it is likely that test scores will go down initially with SBAC. That’s to be expected, because the material is more challenging. Remember that the goal is strengthen student learning and make sure all students have a chance to rise to success.
What about CMT and CAPT?
The new SBAC test will replace the CMT and CAPT tests that people in Connecticut are familiar with. SBAC will still be given in the spring and results will help teachers better assess what a child knows and what that child’s learning needs are.
Do we have enough computers to handle the new SBAC tests?
Yes. New Haven Public Schools was awarded a $2.7 million School Technology Grant from the State Department of Education in the fall. The grant funds that will add thousands of computers to classrooms across the district, strengthen district-wide technology capabilities, and help students be better prepared to excel in school and succeed in college and the workforce.
We are also working inside and outside of the classroom and with our community partners to come up with a plan to help students have increased access to computers outside of school so they can be better prepared for the tests.
How are teachers and students being prepared?
New Haven is ahead of the curve in transitioning to Common Core State Standards in our schools. The district has been working with teachers to support them in transitioning to the new standards. We have ongoing training and professional development for teachers around the new standards.
Do you have any tips for parents regarding these tests?
Common Core is about more than tests. The reality is that with Common Core and the new SBAC test, the emphasis is on critical thinking and problem solving. We are asking our students to go deeper into literature and nonfiction texts and to use evidence to support ideas and writing. In math, we are asking our students to fully grasp one concept before moving on to the next, so the foundation of understanding is stronger.
Parents can help by reading with their children and asking them to talk about and explore ideas about what they read. Work with them on vocabulary, and encourage them to learn new words and try them out in sentences.
Also, visit our Parent Resources tab for links to additional resources about Common Core.