Vermont Public is independent, community-supported media, serving Vermont with trusted, relevant and essential information. We share stories that bring people together, from every corner of our region. New to Vermont Public? Start here.

© 2024 Vermont Public | 365 Troy Ave. Colchester, VT 05446

Public Files:

For assistance accessing our public files, please contact or call 802-655-9451.
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Results From Vermont's New 'Smarter Balanced' Standardized Test

Rebecca Holcombe, former Education Secretary, is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor in 2020..
Taylor Dobbs
VPR File
Education Secretary Rebecca Holcombe said that new standardized test results showing large numbers of children scoring below the "proficient" level doesn't necessarily mean that students or schools are failing.

On Monday, the Agency of Education released the results of a new standardized testthat Vermont students took earlier this year. Officials say they need more data to fully assess the results.

Students in grades three through eight — plus high school juniors — took the new "Smarter Balanced" exam, which is designed to measure competency in math and language arts. The test is also supposed to align with national Common Core guidelines.

The Agency of Education has already decided not to use the test results to rank schools because of a number of questions about the methodology and the data.

Large percentages of Vermont students of all grades did not score at the level of "proficient" or above.

Education Secretary Rebecca Holcombe said that these results don't necessarily mean that students or schools are failing.

"These are very demanding tests. And the fact that you don't score as proficient doesn't mean that you won't go to college, that you won't be successful in college or careers, it just means you didn't score as proficient on the test," Holcombe said.

"In order to understand what it means to actually score as 'not proficient,' we need several years of data... in five years if we find that kids who don't score as proficient aren't able to get jobs, then we're having a very different conversation."

"In five years if we find that kids who don't score as 'proficient' aren't able to get jobs, then we're having a very different conversation." - Rebecca Holcombe, Education Secretary

Holcombe said she was hopeful that the new test would provide helpful information to teachers about where students needed more instruction.

"One of the biggest challenges of a teacher is being able to diagnose in the moment when a student makes a mistake: what is it that led to that mistake? Was it misunderstanding, was it carelessness? Do they have some other understanding that they didn't get, that's sort of a foundational skill?" Holcombe says.

"What we're hoping is that the assessment will be able to break down different aspects of their understanding so they can figure out where it is that the learning broke down, so that they can go back and teach those specific understandings. We're just beginning to understand what this test is and how we might use it," she says.

Results from the "Smarter Balanced" test are available on the Vermont Agency of Education's website.

Latest Stories