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Madison Public Schools: Announcements - MPS District

Madison Public Schools e-Newsletter
January 26, 2015

A number of parents have contacted my office in an effort to become more educated about the Board of Education budget process.  The Board of Education adopted a budget on January 13 at their regularly scheduled meeting.  The Board of Education adopted budget is posted on our district website.  Upcoming meetings of importance include the following:
  • Board of Education presentation of budget to Boards of Finance and Selectmen – February 4 at 7:30 p.m. at Town Campus
  • Public Hearing – February 17 at 7:30 p.m. at Polson Auditorium
  • Public Hearing – April 21  at 7:30 p.m. at Polson Auditorium

Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC)

Since the passage of No Child Left Behind in 2002, districts across the country have been mandated to administer annual state tests in reading, writing, and math in grades 3-8, and grade 10.  Additionally, Connecticut students are required to be tested in science in grades 5, 8, and 10.  Last year, districts around the state were given the option to pilot the new statewide test, The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC), or to administer the final year of the Connecticut Mastery Test (CMT) and Connecticut Academic Performance Test (CAPT).  The district chose to administer the CMT and CAPT for the reasons articulated in a correspondence to parents last year.

This year, all districts are mandated to administer the SBAC to all students in grades 3-8, and grade 11 in the areas of reading, writing and math. The science CMT/CAPT test will continue to be administered in Grades 5, 8, and 10.  

Features of the New Test

There are some key differences in the new assessments.  The tests are administered online and are computer adaptive, meaning that the test questions change based on student responses.  There is a range of question types.  Questions will be presented in a variety of formats using vocabulary that may be unfamiliar to students.  Some questions require the use of online digital tools.  These tools are unlike any digital tools our students are familiar with, such as WORD, or Excel.  Additionally, the SBAC will require typed responses only.  

Our priority is to provide the most humane testing experience for our students, while minimizing traditional test prep that takes away precious time from real teaching and learning.  Over the next couple of months, the district will carefully introduce the digital tools and the vocabulary necessary for our students to perform at their best and to be at ease in the testing environment.  Additionally, since the test requires typed responses, the free online tools, such as Typing Club, could be used for additional typing practice if desired.  This is by no means required by the district.

Some of the tests will require the use of headphones for oral directions and multimedia presentations.  Although there will be access to headphones in the computer lab, parents may prefer to send students with earbuds or headphones during the testing window.

Testing Window

Testing windows are flexible within a three month period.  The state estimates that Grades 3-8 will need 6-6.5 hours of testing while Grade 11 will need 7-7.5 hours.  However, since the test is untimed, students might use more time, or less time, to complete the reading, writing, and math tests. Please see the attached schedule for details regarding the testing windows for the district.  

We continue to be dedicated to providing a supportive and reassuring atmosphere for our students in the administration of state tests.  Information from states that have given tests similar to the SBAC in previous years shows a significant decrease in the number of students meeting goal.  We expect the same in communities across Connecticut.  The online format, the new digital tools, and the unfamiliar vocabulary alone will suppress student performance.  However, in order to ensure a humane testing experience, the district will dedicate a reasonable amount of time to prepare students.    

If you have any questions or concerns, I ask that you contact me directly at 203 245-6300 or via email  

DRA Workshops

The public is invited to participate in a series of community workshops regarding the development of a Comprehensive Assessment of the Madison Public Schools.  The goal of this study is to assist the school district in determining the most effective approach in utilizing our facilities in an effort to support the Madison Public School Vision for 21st Century Education.  The first workshop will be held on Monday, February 2, 2015 on the Bridge at Daniel Hand High School from 7:00 - 8:30 PM.

The Madison Board of Education selected Drummey Rosane Anderson, Inc. ("DRA") to develop a Feasibility Study and Schematic Plans.  DRA has begun assessing the school facilities prior to meeting with town residents at the community workshops.  They will be meeting with school staff to conduct programming and educational planning meetings throughout the winter and spring.

The first public workshop on February 2 will focus on gathering community input. DRA will hold subsequent community workshops to identify possible alternatives for the facilities plan and will then shape specific recommendations for Board of Education consideration.  
DRA's study will consider the broadest range of options and possibilities to address the needs of Madison's school system.

At the first of three proposed workshops, we are seeking your attendance and participation. You are invited to share your thoughts, ideas and suggestions.

We hope you will be able to attend.  Students and children age 3 and above are welcome to attend with their parents and will participate in age-appropriate activities to also provide input.

For more information, including the workshop agenda, please visit our website.

CENTRAL OFFICE: 203.245.6300

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