Early Wednesday morning, Department of Education Deputy Commissioner Ellen Cohen sent an email to every school superintendent in the state to let them know not to share the results of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium exam with anyone.
The school superintendents have access to the raw data through an online reporting system that’s password protected.
In her email, Cohen warns superintendents not to share the information, even with their boards of education.
“Releasing results (including discussing with the press or sharing results at Board of Education meetings) prior to the lift of the embargo jeopardizes your district’s access to future embargoed releases,” Cohen writes in the email.
CTNewsJunkie requested access to the aggregated draft reports for school districts, but was told they were “drafts” and releasing them would not be in the “public interest.”
There is an exemption under the Freedom of Information Act for preliminary drafts.
These drafts are exempt if “the public agency has determined that the public interest in withholding such documents clearly outweighs the public interest in disclosure.”
Kelly Donnelly, chief of staff at the Education Department, said they are citing that exemption and they don’t want to release the data until it’s finalized because it could be inaccurate. The superintendents and district test coordinators are pouring over the data at the moment for accuracy.
“We set a high bar regarding accuracy of information that we generate and the public should expect nothing less from us,” Donnelly said. “It is our duty to perform our due diligence before releasing it. We look forward to releasing the results once we have completed our final quality control check.”
She said this process is similar to the process taken with the old Connecticut Mastery Test. This is the first year of results for the controversial SBAC exam, a computer-administered test aligned with the Common Core State Standards. Since it’s the first generation of test scores that align to the Common Core State Standards, education officials don’t expect them to be stellar.
Devon Puglia, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s spokesman, said “most would agree that data accuracy, particularly on an issue that affects so many families, is important.”
He added: “The new exams set a new, higher bar to prepare children for college and careers. We look forward to the department’s explaining that new bar, the results, and how we build towards the future in great detail next week.”
Jonathan Pelto, a critic of the Malloy administration, was the first to report on the data “embargo.”