Connecticut Science Assessment Letter

September 30, 2008

The Honorable Mark McQuillan
Commissioner of Education
Connecticut State Department of Education
165 Capitol Avenue
Hartford, CT 06106

Dear Commissioner McQuillan:

I am writing regarding our review of Connecticut’s science assessments under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB).

As outlined in my letter of February 28, 2008, states had to meet four basic requirements in science for the 2007-08 school year. In particular, each state was required to: (1) have approved content standards in science; (2) administer a regular and alternate science assessment in each of three grade spans; (3) include all students in those assessments; and (4) report the results of the regular and alternate science assessments on state, district, and school report cards. After reviewing the evidence submitted, I am pleased to inform you that it appears that Connecticut has met these requirements for 2007-08. However, Connecticut must submit the following additional evidence regarding its administration of science assessments in 2007-08: final participation data demonstrating that all students, including migrant students, were included in the science assessments. We understand that Connecticut intends to provide that additional evidence when it submits its documentation for peer review in October 2008.

In 2008-09, Connecticut must provide evidence for peer review that demonstrates full compliance of its science standards and assessments. In anticipation of that required peer review, Connecticut chose to participate in an optional technical assistance peer review in May 2008. I appreciate the efforts that were required to prepare for the technical assistance peer review and hope that the process provided useful feedback to support Connecticut’s efforts to monitor student progress toward meeting challenging science standards.

Based on the evidence received from Connecticut, which was reviewed by the peers and Department staff, we have concluded that Connecticut does not yet meet all the statutory and regulatory requirements of section 1111(b)(1) and (3) of the ESEA. Specifically, additional evidence for academic achievement standards, technical quality, alignment, inclusion, and reporting is still needed, as evidence related to each of these requirements was not available for submission at the time of the May review. The complete list of evidence needed to address these issues is enclosed with this letter. We have scheduled peer reviews for states’ science assessments for the weeks of October 25 through November 2, 2008, and March 23 through 27, 2009. All materials for review must be provided to the Department three weeks before the scheduled peer review.

Please keep in mind that science assessments represent one piece of a state’s complete standards and assessment system, which also includes regular and alternate assessments for reading and mathematics. As stated in former Assistant Secretary Henry L. Johnson’s December 19, 2006 letter to you, Connecticut’s standards and assessment system is currently designated Full Approval with Recommendations. To remain fully approved, Connecticut must demonstrate that all components of its standards and assessment system, including general and alternate assessments for science, comply with all ESEA requirements for standards and assessment systems as administered in 2008-09.

We look forward to working with Connecticut to support a high-quality standards and assessment system, of which science standards and assessments are an integral part. If you would like to discuss this further, please do not hesitate to contact Clayton Hollingshead ( or Jessica Morffi ( of my staff.


Kerri L. Briggs, Ph.D.


cc: Governor M. Jodi Rell
Barbara Beaudin



  1. Documentation of the standard setting process, including demonstration of involvement of diverse stakeholders, for the CMT and Skills Checklist.
  2. Documentation reporting separately the number and percent of students with disabilities: assessed against alternate achievement standards; assessed on alternate assessments against grade-level standards; and included in the regular assessment with and without accommodations.


  1. Evidence documenting the CAPT and Skills Checklist measure higher order thinking skills and students’ understanding of challenging academic content.


  1. Evidence demonstrating test and item scores for the CMT, CAPT, and Skills Checklist are related to internal and external variables as intended.
  2. Documentation of the standard setting process for the CMT and Skills Checklist.
  3. Documentation of assessment reliability for the CMT and Skills Checklist.
  4. Reports providing the conditional standard error of measurement and student classification at each cut score for all science assessments.
  5. Evidence documenting generalizability for all relevant sources for the CMT and Skills Checklist.
  6. Documentation of a system for monitoring and improving the on-going quality of each science assessment.
  7. Evidence of a plan to evaluate the intended and unintended consequences of each science assessment.
  8. Evidence indicating that the scores of students with disabilities and limited English proficient students that are based on accommodated administrations allow for valid inferences of student knowledge and skills, and that the scores can be combined meaningfully with scores from non-accommodated administrations.


  1. Evidence documenting the alignment of the CMT, CAPT, and Skills Checklist to the State’s academic content and achievement standards.
  2. Evidence demonstrating that CAPT items reflect the same degree of cognitive complexity as the academic content standards.
  3. Evidence of ongoing processes or procedures to maintain and improve the alignment of the assessments and standards over time.


  1. Documentation demonstrating the participation of all students in the CMT and Skills Checklist.
  2. Documentation demonstrating the participation of all required subgroups, including the migrant student subgroup, for the CMT, CAPT, and Skills Checklist.


  1. Evidence documenting that the State’s reporting system facilitates appropriate, credible, and defensible interpretation and use of science assessment results.
  2. Documentation demonstrating the participation of all students in the CMT and Skills Checklist science assessments.
  3. Participation data and assessment results for the subgroup of migrant students.
  4. Student reports for each assessment that express results in terms of the State’s achievement standards in science.
  5. Evidence demonstrating individual student reports are delivered to parents, teachers, and principals as soon as possible after the assessment is administered.
  6. Evidence documenting the production of itemized score analyses by subdomains or standards so that parents, teachers, and principals can interpret and address the specific needs of students.

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