A Smarter Balance?

On Oct. 7, the Westport Board of Education met at Staples. One of the most pressing issues discussed was the implementation of a new standardized test called Smarter Balanced Assessments, which will replace CAPT and CMT.

Smarter Balanced Assessments, unlike CAPT or CMT, will be taken on computers, beginning, tentatively, with the 2014-2015 school year. In addition, 11th graders will take the test around the last 12 weeks of school, with the science section to be taken in March. According to the website, the Smarter Balanced Assessments will help provide teachers with a better idea of a student’s strengths and weaknesses.

However, there are some concerns about the new test. One of the concerns that was discussed was the use of computers. A pilot test was given to third graders, who ended up struggling during the test because of the computers. This brought up the topic of  integrating more keyboard use in the elementary school curriculums to better prepare students for the new test.

Elliott Landon, Westport Superintendent, believes that, at the high school level, Smarter Balanced Assessments will benefit the Common Core Standards and the Westport 2025 Initiative.

“Smarter Balance is tied in with the Common Core,” Landon said. “In fact, Common Core standards are very exciting and very interesting, and in fact for the first time [it] enables us as a nation [to know] what’s important to learn.” Landon is also enthusiastic about the impact it will have on students.

However, introducing the new test won’t be easy for the students.

“It will be challenging [to get students used to the new test],” Lisabeth Comm, the Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, said.

The next Board of Education meeting will be Monday, Oct. 21.