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CT Viewpoints: SBAC provides invaluable information about students — and their teachers

 

I had the privilege to work with talented educators who devoted their lives to reaching every child in their classrooms, literally spending day and night preparing lessons, correcting work or contemplating how to reach a struggling student.  These teachers took their role in their students’ lives very seriously, seeking feedback on ways to improve their craft.  For these teachers, evaluation was not a threat. They were doing their jobs proudly and effectively.  They had nothing to fear, but only information to gain that would help them improve.

In every profession, people are accountable for the work that they do. Is a surgeon a good surgeon because she comes to work each day and is friendly? Or do we look at the number of successful operations and her cure rate?   If a teacher’s job is to teach children, shouldn’t that teacher be accountable for whether or not the children learned that information?

Read the full story here.

CT Viewpoints: State Board of Education demands action on teacher evaluation

 

I applaud the SBE for pushing back on PEAC’s recommendation and drawing a real line in the sand.

Connecticut’s teacher evaluation model, which has never been fully implemented to date, calls for using measures of student growth as one of many components of a teacher’s evaluation. However, during the past two years, the use of state data on student learning has been “de-coupled” or excluded from evaluations.

It is highly unfortunate that Connecticut’s poor students do not have the resources to hire their own lobbyists to rebut the CEA’s proposals. Instead, these students are expected just to accept Connecticut’s education system as is —a system in which 44 percent of Connecticut graduates find themselves in need of remediation when they go to college. That seems like a raw deal to me.

Read the full story here.

New Haven Register: ‘Devil is always in the details’ for school improvement, says CCER director

Villar said CCER’s primary focus is closing the achievement gap between student subgroups in Connecticut.

“Connecticut continues to have the most consistent and largest achievement gap in the country,” he said. “We’re actually doing a very poor job, particularly of educating poor and minority students compared to other states.”

Villar said the organization works with school districts, including New Haven, to examine how they finance education and whether they are doing so equitably. How districts spend their money, however, should depend on their demographics.

“My thing always is: Is it purposeful spending?” Villar said. “New Haven spends more on transportation, because there’s a lot of school choice.”

Read the full story here.

Connecticut’s Special Education Funding Dilemma

As the cost of educating students with disabilities continues to rise, Connecticut’s local municipalities are struggling both to meet federal mandates and to balance their annual budgets. General education costs have risen by 40% over the last decade, and costs for special education have increased by 65%, with one in every eight students receiving special education services.[1] These costs can be particularly burdensome at the district-level because, by their very nature, these needs are supplementary and sometimes unanticipated; districts cannot always predict the full extent of their students’ potential needs.

In order to alleviate some of this burden, the state of Connecticut administers an Excess Cost Grant to assist school districts with extraordinary special education costs.[2] The state’s Excess Cost Grant is not designed to reimburse school districts for all of their special education costs. Rather, these grants only cover a certain reimbursable percentage that fluctuates from year to year. The Excess Cost Grant is also usually not fully funded by the state. Thus, even with state assistance, districts are still facing the same dilemma every year: allocating funding for special education costs without knowing either: (1) the needs of new, incoming students to the district; or (2) what percentage of the costs of extraordinary services will actually be covered by the state’s Excess Cost Grant.

This brief paper explores the impact of Excess Cost Grant shortfalls by reviewing the history behind this funding, some of the challenges it creates, and a case study of one district.Read More »

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE–PEAC Decision Delays Systemic Accountability

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
CONTACT: Nicki Perkins
EMAIL: Nicki.perkins@ctedreform.org
PHONE: (203) 506-5799

Hartford, Connecticut – Today, March 9, 2016, the Performance Evaluation Advisory Council (PEAC) voted to recommend to the State Board of Education to decouple teacher evaluations and the state’s standardized assessment for another year. This means that districts will still not be required to tie results from the Smarter Balanced Assessment to their teachers’ evaluation results in 2016-2017, although they will retain the option to do so. In response to PEAC’s decision, Jeffrey Villar, Executive Director of the Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER), made the following statement:

“PEAC’s recommendation to delay the full implementation of Connecticut’s teacher evaluation system for a third consecutive year raises a great deal of concern. The teacher evaluation model that the state envisioned and developed in 2012 was designed to be balanced–including both objective and subjective measures of teacher performance. Because that system has never yet been fully implemented, we have been prevented from fully understanding how well it works and whether it needs to be refined. What we do know, however, is that our state must pursue a system that holds educators and administrators accountable for improved outcomes, and that provides meaningful and appropriate professional development for our hard-working educators.

“We fully understand that the members of PEAC are concerned about identifying a perfect metric by which to incorporate learning measures into evaluations. But we should not let ‘perfection’ become the enemy of ‘good.’ I urge PEAC to accelerate its pace.

“Let’s not forget that each child has only one opportunity for a quality education. We need to start implementing evaluations in a way that is meaningful, and making adjustments as we go. Our students deserve so much better than years and years of delay.”

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE–Coalition of Leading Education, Parents, Business, Community Organizations Oppose Efforts to Weaken State’s Education Evaluation System

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
CONTACT:Byron McCauley
EMAIL: Byron.McCauley@conncan.org
PHONE: (513) 504-8915

 

Today, the Connecticut General Assembly Joint Committee on Education will hold a public hearing on SB 380, AN ACT CONCERNING THE EXCLUSION OF STUDENT PERFORMANCE RESULTS ON THE MASTERY EXAMINATION FROM TEACHER EVALUATIONS. The bill explicitly removes the Smarter Balanced assessment from evaluations starting in 2016-2017, saying that multiple indicators of student achievement growth shall not include the statewide mastery exam.

HARTFORD, Conn. – (March 7, 2016) – A coalition of education, community and business organizations encourages members of the Connecticut General Assembly’s Education Committee to oppose efforts to prematurely revise the teacher and principal evaluation system, as proposed by SB 380 that will be discussed in a public hearing today.

The coalition includes the Connecticut Parent Teacher Association (PTA), the Urban League of Southern Connecticut, Hartford Parent University, Radical Advocates for Cross-Cultural Education, the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education, the Connecticut Association of Schools, the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, the Connecticut Council for Education Reform, the Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now and the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents.

Ongoing and effective evaluations are an essential tool to help both teachers and principals to identify their strengths, areas of growth and professional development. We oppose the measure being considered in SB 380 for the following reasons:Read More »

CT Mirror: Education heavyweights draw line in the sand on teacher ratings

 

The coalition believes ongoing and effective evaluations are an essential tool to help both teachers and principals to identify their strengths, areas of growth and professional development. The coalition opposes efforts to prematurely revise the teacher and principal evaluation system,” the group wrote in a media advisory Friday.

The group includes the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education, the Connecticut Association of Schools, the Connecticut Business and Industry Assocation, the PTA, the Coalition for Achievement Now, the Council for Education Reform, the Association of Public School Superintendents and the Urban League of Southern Connecticut.

This announcement comes as state legislators and the administration of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy face considerable lobbying efforts from the state’s two teachers’ unions to replace the state-mandated teacher evaluation system…

Read the full story here.

CT ViewPoints: Providing exceptional education to all students requires more accountability, not less

The release of Connecticut’s teacher evaluation results in a school-funding trial has revealed that only 1 percent of teachers were evaluated as either “below standard” or “developing.” Recently, a CT Mirror story covered a discussion among members of the Connecticut Performance Evaluation Advisory Council (PEAC) about whether and how to amend the teacher evaluation process. In that story, Connecticut unions represented that the inclusion of a state assessment in the evaluation process is unfair to teachers. But, as a former teacher, principal, and superintendent, and a father of six Connecticut children—it strikes me as somewhat obvious that, quite to the contrary, these results indicate a strong, existing bias in favor of protecting teachers from data…

I’ve been an educator for two decades, and if Connecticut were unfairly using data against its teachers, I’d be the first to object. But when the data are as skewed as these recent evaluation results in Connecticut, that tells me that we actually need to find more balance in favor of accountability. Connecticut’s legislature has responded to concerns about teacher evaluations by establishing the Performance Evaluation Advisory Council and charging it with managing that process. Let’s let PEAC do its work.

Read Jeffrey’s full explanation here.

Hartford Courant: 11th-Graders Aren’t Complaining About This Test

 

While most educators have supported the switch to the SAT, Jeffrey Villar, former superintendent in Windsor and now executive director for the Connecticut Council for Education Reform has reservations. He is concerned about the unfairness of using the SAT as a state measure when wealthier families can pay for test-prep programs that poorer families can’t afford.

Read the full story here.

Hartford Courant: Smarter Balanced Test Will Eliminate Essay Writing, Shaving Nearly 2 Hours Off Exam

Jeffrey Villar, executive director of the Connecticut Council for Education Reform, praised Malloy and the state Department of Education for an effort to ‘fine-tune the delivery’ of the Smarter Balanced test.

Malloy emphasized Thursday that his announcement does not signal a backing away from the test. ‘We are not getting rid of the Smarter Balanced test,’ he said.

Read the full story here.

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