State will penalize schools with low SBAC participation rates

In 2015, the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) replaced the Connecticut Mastery Test (CMT) and Connecticut Academic Performance Test (CAPT) in both English language arts/literacy (ELA) and mathematics for students in grades three through eight and grade 10.

The SBACs have been a source of controversy across the country, with many students opting out of taking them last year.

In Connecticut, approximately 4% of the nearly 300,000 public school students eligible to take the SBAC did not during the 2014-15 school year.

Although statewide participation met the federal standard, many individual districts in Connecticut did not — “one-quarter of public school districts did not test at least 95% of their students, the minimum participation rate the federal government expects,” according to, and “high school students missing the exams were to blame for most of the decline.”

CTMirror also found that of the 148 schools where too many students missed the SBAC, nearly three-quarters were high schools.

While some Wilton students opted out of testing, Superintendent Kevin Smith told The Bulletin last year, “there weren’t many.”

According to Department of Education data, 98% of Wilton students participated in the English portion of the SBAC and 97.7% participated in the math portion.

ELA participation percentages at each Wilton school were as follows:

  • Cider Mill: 99.3%.

  • Middlebrook: 98.5%.

  • Wilton High School: 93.7%.

Math participation percentages at each Wilton school were as follows:

  • Cider Mill: 99.3%.

  • Middlebrook: 97.5%.

  • Wilton High School: 94.6%.

Federal response

In a November letter to Connecticut Department of Education Commissioner Dianna R. Wentzell , the director of the U.S. Department of Education Office of State Support, Moninque M. Chism, wrote that her department is “concerned that Connecticut’s participation rate did not meet requirements of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended.” She directed Connecticut, as well as 12 other states, to come up with plans to deal with high numbers of opt-out students.

States that fail to do so face “enforcement actions” by the U.S. Department of Education ranging from increased monitoring to withholding all or a portion of a state education agency’s Title I, Part A, administrative and/or programming funds.

State penalties

After receiving the letter, the Connecticut Department of Education set penalties for districts where more than 10% of students miss required statewide exams for a second consecutive year. Specifically, a school would be lowered by one category and certain funding would be jeopardized beginning in the 2016-17 school year. The state department did not specify the amount of money that would be withheld from the sanctioned districts.

Districts that achieve the 95% participation rate will receive a letter of commendation from the state education commissioner.

Wilton testing dates

Wilton students in third through eighth grade will take the SBAC from March 15 to June 10, according to this year’s Wilton Public Schools Standardized Assessments chart , which did not include SBAC testing dates for 10th graders.

Students still take the CMT Science in fifth and eighth grades, and the CAPT Science in 10th grade, both of which will be administered March 1-29 this year.

To learn more about the SBAC, visit