HARTFORD -- The number of special-needs students taking a modified version of the state's standardized student achievement tests appears to be growing, but in two years that will change.
Connecticut is working with other states to develop a "Smarter Balanced" standardized test that by 2014 will be given to students on computers and is supposed to adjust to most students who take it.
"It is still in the development stage," said Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor.
He described a computerized test that would ask students the same questions in different ways and probe more deeply to determine their content knowledge.
The new "flexible" tests will replace the Connecticut Mastery Test given in grades three through eight and the Connecticut Academic Performance Test given to high school sophomores. Those tests, for the past decade, have been used in large part to measure the success or failure of schools and districts.
Now, with a waiver of the federal No Child Left Behind Act, Connecticut is moving to test students on a new "Common Core of Learning." State officials said the new emphasis will be on determining what students know, not just how many can jump over a "proficiency" benchmark.
So far, 27 states are involved in the Smarter Balanced consortium.
Many special-needs students once took lower-level tests. That stopped with NCLB. Since 2010, students with special needs who met the criteria have been allowed to take a modified test that measured the same skills and objectives as other students, only in a simplified format.
The federal government allows districts to count up to 2 percent of students who scored in the proficient range on the modified exam to count toward a district's annual yearly progress score.