Assessment Practices

Farmington uses a backward design process in our curriculum writing as described by Jay McTighe in this video. Essentially, this means that when we plan the curriculum we first determine the standards we are aiming for our students to achieve, then plan how we will measure that students achieved those standards, and only then prepare the instructional plan that will help students achieve those standards. As much as possible, we strive to develop authentic assessments that measure the important knowledge and skills of the discipilne and of the skills delineated in the Vision of the Graduate.

Other Relevant Resources:

This one-page guide briefly highlights the differences between formative and summative assessments. Best instructional practice is to have frequent and varied formative assessments that give students a chance to know how they are doing in the unit and correct any deficiencies before a summative assessment.

Chappius and others have written informative articles about formative assessment and how students can use this type of assessment to improve their performance when it helps them understand three questions: Where am I going? Where am I now? How can I close the gap?. The article here is about the importance of effective feedback in learning.

Video example of a teacher using formative assessment techniques.

Who takes this assessment and why?

Connecticut has used annual standardized assessments since 1984 to provide a system for monitoring and reporting on Connecticut students’ academic progress.

In the spring of 2015, the CMT and CAPT tests in reading, writing, and mathematics were replaced by a new assessment called the Smarter Balanced Assessment. This assessment was given to students in grades 3-8 and 11, as required by state law and the No Child Left Behind Act.

There was no change to the Science CMT and CAPT which are given annually to students in grades 5, 8, and 10.

What are some of the major features of this assessment?

The new assessments differ from the prior assessments in several key ways:

    • The new assessments are administered online.
    • There are four parts to the assessment:
      • Computer Adaptive Test in English/Language Arts (ELA)
      • Performance Task in ELA
      • Computer Adaptive Test in Math
      • Performance Task in Math
    • The Computer Adaptive Test (CAT) portions adjust to the student. The difficulty level of questions that a student sees is based on his or her prior responses.
    • Students will receive a score in ELA and in Math on a 1-4 scale. In the past, students received scores in reading, writing and math on a 1-5 scale.

If you would like to experience some of the questions and the online format, you can do so here:

Additional Information can be found here.

What is Farmington’s approach to this assessment?

We believe that by engaging students in a curriculum that is interesting and challenging, students will perform well on this assessment. Many of the questions and tasks on the assessment are aligned to our Vision of the Graduate and, thus, are already embedded into students’ daily learning and practice.

Some of the approaches students will experience in school that will prepare them for this assessment are:

    • Engaging in the reading of complex texts
    • Participating in conversations in which they take a stand on an issue and use evidence to support their arguments
    • Writing frequently to express and clarify their ideas
    • Solving unique and relevant problems individually and collaboratively
    • Engaging in student-driven assessment practices and reflecting frequently on their progress towards the learning targets.

All of these approaches are consistent with best practices in teaching and learning and are articulated in our Framework for Teaching and Learning.

How do students prepare for this assessment?

As stated above, tasks and questions similar to those that are on the Smarter Balanced Assessment are already embedded in our curriculum and in the assessments that students will experience throughout the year. Because the assessment is delivered online, we will increase opportunities for students to read texts on screen and engage in drafting and responding on the Chromebooks.

As a parent, you can support the development of your child’s keyboarding skills by encouraging his/her use of free online tools, such as Typing Club, for additional typing practice, if desired.

The Connecticut State Department of Education also developed the following Parent Guides for your information:

Preparing students for success in:

Grade 4

Grade 5

Grade 6

Grade 7

Grade 8

How did my child do on this assessment and what does it mean?

Sample Individual Student Reports

Grade 5

Grade 8

Grade 11

The state has developed a comprehensive Interpretative Guide.

How will the assessment change in 2016 for 11th graders?

The State of CT sought and received a waiver from using the Smarter Balanced Assessment in the 11th grade.

The current plan, pending approval by the State Board of Education in October, is to administer the SAT to all juniors in lieu of the Smarter Balanced Assessment on a school day in March.

Details about this will be forthcoming as we receive them from the state.

Where can I get more detailed information?

Student Assessment

CMT & CAPT Science

Special Population Documentation and Resources

Connecticut Alternate Assessments

CSDE Smarter Balanced

CSDE Comprehensive Assessment Program Portal


Whom should I contact if I have more questions?

If you have questions about your child’s performance on the Smarter Balanced Assessment or on the CMT/CAPT Science Test, please contact your child’s current school. A principal or counselor can help to answer your questions.

If you have any additional questions about this assessment, you are encouraged to contact the Director of Curriculum, Veronica Ruzek. She can be reached by e-mail – – or by phone (860) 673-8270.