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Hartford Courant: Teachers’ Union Calls for Elimination of Smarter Balanced Test

Jeffrey Villar, executive director of the Connecticut Council for Education Reform, said Connecticut has already invested millions over the past five years in developing and piloting the new test, which was first administered to students in every district last spring. “And the CEA’s proposal would throw it all away,” he said. “That just doesn’t make sense.”

Read the full piece here.

Greenwich Time: Teachers want evaluation system changed

Others call it too soon to scrap the system. Jeffrey Villar, a former Windsor school superintendent who now heads the Connecticut Council for Education Reform, said he knows first hand the challenges the new evaluation has presented but remains committed to the idea that teachers have a critical impact upon student learning and therefore there must be a connection between student learning and teacher evaluation.

“To call for a complete disconnect eliminates accountability,” Villar said. Rather than hold press conferences, Villar said CEA should be addressing their concerns to the statewide committee that developed the standards.

Read the full piece here.

Hartford Courant: Landmark School Funding Lawsuit Goes to Trial Tuesday

State Rep. Andy Fleischmann, D-West Hartford, the co-chairman of the legislature’s education committee, said he is sympathetic to the aims of the plaintiffs, but added, “It is simply not true that that increasing expenditure closes the achievement gap. That on its own won’t do it. You must have the right district leaders, schoolteachers and policies in place to move students in a lagging district forward.”

Jeffrey Villar, executive director of the Connecticut Council on Education Reform, said he expects it to be difficult to determine if funding is “adequate and equitable” in cases, for instance, in which a district receives adequate funding but fails to make the systemic changes necessary to meet students’ needs.

“We need to be careful not to fall into the trap of oversimplifying and accepting the concept that improving educational outcomes for students is all about adding more resources,” he said.

Read the full piece here.

CEA Out of Touch: Proposes Costly, 19th Century Solutions to 21st Century Problems

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

New Haven, Connecticut – Today, January 7, 2016, the Connecticut Education Association (CEA) called for Connecticut legislators to abandon the Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBAC). In response, Jeffrey Villar, Executive Director of the CCER, made the following statement:

“The CEA’s proposal is startlingly out of touch, particularly as our state grapples with enormous budget shortfalls. As we contemplate a looming budget deficit, we can’t afford to waste public dollars.

“Connecticut has already invested millions of dollars in developing, field testing, and piloting the SBAC. That investment has spanned five years of hard work, including participation in a multi-state, non-profit consortium by content experts from the Connecticut State Department of Education and hundreds of Connecticut educators. The state also invested millions of dollars in improving district-level technological infrastructures. And the CEA’s proposal would throw it all away. That just doesn’t make sense.

“The SBAC’s 2015 administration only served as a benchmark for future assessments, so we haven’t even explored the test’s full potential yet. I doubt that Connecticut legislators are irresponsible enough to abandon the SBAC after this enormous financial investment and return to an outdated system.

“The legislature has already taken steps to improve and refine the SBAC—in the form of a Mastery Examination Committee. We encourage legislators to continue pursuing this very reasonable course of action.”

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE–CCER Awards Meriden for Innovative Data Systems 

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

New Haven, Connecticut – Yesterday, December 7, 2015, the Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER) presented the Meriden Public Schools with an award for its innovative data systems. In 2014, CCER conducted an analysis Meriden’s data and IT systems, and determined that the district was using some highly advanced data and IT practices to support its strategic plans. Regarding the award, CCER Executive Director Jeffrey Villar made the following statement:

“We were very impressed by several innovative uses of data in the Meriden Public Schools. From using teacher collaboration periods in furtherance of student learning to using advanced school climate surveys that track students’ well-being and school culture—Meriden is innovating in several noteworthy ways. The district exemplifies how data can be used to drive decision-making and improvement.

“That’s why we have teamed up with the district to build a website–schooldataystems.org—that highlights these and other practices. This website contains three sections with self-evaluations that were designed to promote discussions within other district leadership teams about the strengths and weaknesses of their own data and IT systems. Each of these three sections also contains numerous resources and examples to help show how these best practices can be implemented well. A final section features videos highlighting some of the very impressive practices within the Meriden Public Schools.

“With quality strategic plans, cultures, technology, and data, CT’s public school districts can go far. Meriden serves as a terrific example, and we hope that this website will also be a useful tool.”

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE–CCER Awards Meriden for Innovative Data Systems 

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

New Haven, Connecticut – Yesterday, December 7, 2015, the Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER) presented the Meriden Public Schools with an award for its innovative data systems. In 2014, CCER conducted an analysis Meriden’s data and IT systems, and determined that the district was using some highly advanced data and IT practices to support its strategic plans. Regarding the award, CCER Executive Director Jeffrey Villar made the following statement:

“We were very impressed by several innovative uses of data in the Meriden Public Schools. From using teacher collaboration periods in furtherance of student learning to using advanced school climate surveys that track students’ well-being and school culture—Meriden is innovating in several noteworthy ways. The district exemplifies how data can be used to drive decision-making and improvement.

“That’s why we have teamed up with the district to build a website–schooldataystems.org—that highlights these and other practices. This website contains three sections with self-evaluations that were designed to promote discussions within other district leadership teams about the strengths and weaknesses of their own data and IT systems. Each of these three sections also contains numerous resources and examples to help show how these best practices can be implemented well. A final section features videos highlighting some of the very impressive practices within the Meriden Public Schools.

“With quality strategic plans, cultures, technology, and data, CT’s public school districts can go far. Meriden serves as a terrific example, and we hope that this website will also be a useful tool.”

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE–CCER: NAEP Results Mirror SBAC

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

CCER: NAEP Results Mirror SBAC

Today, the results for the National Assessment for Education Progress (NAEP) were released. Administered nationally every two years, NAEP is the only current exam that allows all American states to compare their students’ achievement. In response to the results, Jeffrey Villar, Executive Director of the Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER) made the following statement:

“The NAEP results released today really matched our expectations. In fact, they mirror Connecticut’s recent SBAC results, which were relatively low, particularly so in Math. For me, the key takeaway is that Connecticut still struggles with gaps in achievement, and we still have so much more work to do before every Connecticut child has a shot at a great education.

“What we need to remember is that our state is on a path to making a long-term change in the way public education works for our students—and this is just one data point along the way. We are working to raise academic standards, use data from a new state assessment, and develop a system for providing professional development to our educators. These aren’t the types of changes that happen overnight, so we can’t expect scores to improve immediately. Proper implementation will take time.”

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE–CCER Provides SAT Opportunity in Urban School Districts

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

CCER Provides SAT Opportunity in Urban School Districts

New Haven, Connecticut – Today, September 15, 2015, the Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER) announced that it will be funding SAT preparation opportunities within the Bridgeport Public Schools and East Hartford Public Schools. This project is being conducted in partnership with Kaplan K12 Learning Services, which will provide 18 hours of direct instruction and two practice test experiences to an aggregate of 125 students in Bassick High School (Bridgeport), Harding High School (Bridgeport), Central High School (Bridgeport), and East Hartford High School (East Hartford). The initiative begins this Saturday, September 19th, 2015, in both districts.

Explaining how the initiative was born, Jeffrey Villar, Executive Director of CCER, stated, “Connecticut has recently shifted to making the SAT a mandatory exam for high school students.  While this policy shift may address concerns regarding over-testing in high school, it is also likely to increase the educational inequities that already exist among the students who attend our public school districts. That’s why we’re doing what we can to begin leveling the playing field.”

Bridgeport Superintendent Fran Rabinowitz said, “The SAT prep provided by CCER is incredibly beneficial to our students. They deserve and need very effective preparation for this assessment, and I feel that the Kaplan Prep gives them an equal opportunity to compete with their suburban peers. Many thanks to CCER for helping Bridgeport with the best SAT preparation available.”

Ned Lamont, Secretary and Treasurer of the CCER Board of Directors, was once a part-time teacher at Bridgeport’s Harding High School. He said, “Nobody likes testing, but college admissions officers put a lot of weight in how you perform on the SAT test. Harding students are extraordinary, and this prep program will remind colleges how extraordinary they are.”

In East Hartford, Superintendent Nate Quesnel described the project as, “an incredible opportunity for East Hartford kids.”

“The tutoring sessions will provide the kids with the needed skills for SAT success and an ability to take that next big step,” he said. “We are extremely appreciative of this partnership and look forward to the success of the program.”

Bryan R. Hall, the Chairman of the Board of Education in East Hartford, said, “We are confident that this partnership with CCER and Kaplan will expand East Hartford’s ability to meet the needs of our students and increase their opportunities to access the college of their dreams. We are very appreciative to CCER for finding a way to provide this valuable support in a tangible, real, and ‘shovel ready’ manner when it comes to kids.“

In response, Villar added, “We believe that this initiative has the potential to provide students with increased opportunities. Improved results on the SAT can impact college admissions and the availability of scholarship funds, both of which are real game changers for students and their families. All of these students deserves an exceptional education, without an exception.”

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE–ConnCAN and CCER Release SBAC Resource Site to Assist Parents in Analyzing Standardized Scores

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
CONTACT: Nicki Perkins
EMAIL: Nicki.Perkins@ctedreform.org
PHONE: 203-506-5799
 “These test results give us the opportunity to understand how well our schools are preparing students for the challenges ahead of them in college and career and give them the tools they need to improve,” – Jennifer Alexander, ConnCAN CEO

New Haven, CT [August 28, 2015] – The State Department of Education today released results from the 2014-15 Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBAC). As expected, student scores reflected a lower readiness level than previously assessed by Connecticut’s earlier exams, the CMT and CAPT.

To assist Connecticut families in navigating their student’s SBAC scores, ConnCAN has teamed up with the Connecticut Council For Education Reform (CCER) to produce a website called, ReadyCT.org. The site will give parents answers to frequently asked SBAC questions, provide ongoing, in-depth analysis on Connecticut scores, offer testimonials on the importance of college and career readiness and serve as a resource for publicly available SBAC information and analysis.

Now that the data is available, both organizations are taking the time to analyze the results thoroughly, and understand where our children stand. Additional information on the scores is available at ReadyCT.org.

“We hope this website will help parents and community members who are searching for answers and understanding when it comes to their students’ SBAC results,” said ConnCAN CEO Jennifer Alexander. “This baseline data gives us a new starting point to determine how well our schools and districts are preparing students for the challenges of college and career. Results from this test are one point of data to help improve practice and better serve students.

“For parents, getting results that suddenly look different and lower than we are used to might be alarming. It’s important to understand that we can’t compare these results to results on the old state test. The Smarter Balanced test is measuring students’ progress towards an entirely new and higher goal,” said Jeffrey Villar, Executive Director of CCER. “Comparing these results to the old state tests would be like to comparing your blood pressure to an EKG result. Both may provide information about your health, but they do so in very different and incomparable ways. This year’s test results are a baseline, a starting point from which we should see steady improvements in years to come.”

“With the release of these results, Connecticut now has a more accurate reference point on our students’ college and career readiness,” Alexander said. “We hope this website helps parents, educators and advocates understand SBAC results and make informed decisions in the future. This baseline year gives us a new starting point to understand our students’ progress towards high standards and helps provide some of the data needed to target students’ needs and help them improve. That’s why it is important that parents receive accurate information about the assessment so they can separate myth from reality when it comes to SBAC and help ensure that their children will be ready for the challenges ahead.”

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE–Baseline SBAC Results: A Starting Point for Growth

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

Baseline SBAC Results: A Starting Point for Growth

New Haven, Connecticut – Today, August 28th, the Connecticut State Department of Education released baseline results from the 2014-2015 Smarter Balanced Assessment. This is the first administration of the Common Core-aligned test, which was taken by Connecticut students in grades 3-8 and 10 during the spring of 2015. 55.4% of students met or exceeded grade-level expectations for English/Language Arts, and 39.1% met or exceeded expectations for Math. In response to the release of these results, Jeffrey Villar, Executive Director of the Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER), issued the following statement:

“Because the new assessment measures progress towards new goals, we view these results as our new baseline. We expect that our statewide scores will increase over time, as educators and students work together on achieving at the higher levels of rigor demanded by the Common Core.

“For parents, getting results that suddenly look different and lower than we are used to might be alarming. It’s important to understand that these results cannot be compared to Connecticut’s legacy exams in any way. The Smarter Balanced test is measuring students’ progress towards an entirely new and higher goal. To assist parents in understanding these new results, we have teamed up with ConnCAN to produce a website, ReadyCT.org, that we hope will help to answer parents’ questions about this assessment and what it means for their students. This year’s test results are a starting point from which parents should hope to see steady improvements in years to come.”

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