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CT Viewpoints – State board should project objectivity in teacher evaluation

By Jeffrey Villar

…last year, the State Board approved yet another de-coupling with the express caveat that ‘the Board fully supports and expects the implementation of the use of state test data in the 2017-18 school year, with a further report to the Board by November 2016, and informs PEAC that the State Board of Education will not grant any additional extensions.’

That’s why it’s so disappointing that the State Board voted earlier this month to permanently prohibit using the state test when evaluating the performance of teachers. Beyond flouting its own promises, beyond damaging the balance within the never-implemented evaluation model, the State Board challenged the expectations we have slowly been building about whether our education system has a duty to our kids.

Read the full piece here.

Hartford Courant – State Board To Consider Eliminating State Test Scores From Teacher Evaluation Ratings

By Kathleen Megan

Villar said that when the original teacher evaluation model was developed in 2012, ‘there was general agreement that teacher performance needed to be linked to student outcomes. However, the model has never been fully implemented statewide because of decisions, year after year, to temporarily “de-couple” assessment results from teacher evaluations.’

Villar said the move ‘really seems to me to be more about the political pressure that our unions have placed on this issue.’

Read the full story here.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE–CCER Urges State Board to Reject PEAC Recommendation

CONTACT: Nicki Perkins
PHONE: (203) 506-5799

New Haven, Connecticut – Today, March 29, 2017, the Performance Evaluation Advisory Council (PEAC) recommended that the state mastery test not be used as a measure of goal attainment for educator evaluations. According to the PEAC recommendation to the State Board of Education, state mastery results can still be used to inform professional development, but cannot be included in an educator’s formal student learning objectives (SLOs). In response to PEAC’s recommendation, Jeffrey Villar—Executive Director of the Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER)—made the following statement:

“When the original teacher evaluation model was developed in 2012, there was general agreement that teacher performance needed to be linked to student outcomes. However, the model has never been fully implemented statewide because of decisions, year-after-year, to temporarily ‘de-couple’ assessment results from teacher evaluations. Just this past fall, a superior court judge in the CCJEF trial referred to the evaluation model—as currently implemented—as “little more than cotton candy in a rainstorm.” PEAC’s vote today fails to address these shortcomings.Read More »

CT Town & City: Point-Counterpoint

Point-Counterpoint on Teacher Evaluation and Compensation begins on page 20.

By now, it is generally accepted that teachers are the most important in-school lever for improving academic outcomes. Quite rightly, they are also the biggest expense in our education system. So if our aim is to maximize our financial and human resources, we must encourage excellence in teaching. That means identifying how well our teachers perform (evaluation). And it means creating incentives so that excellent teachers are encouraged to stay on and work in our highest-need neighborhoods (compensation).

These issues are too complicated to iron out in a few paragraphs. But, at the end of the day, your position on both teacher evaluation and compensation will ultimately depend on whose needs you think Connecticut’s education system should be structured around serving: teachers or students. The CCJEF trial judge made clear that he believes the ultimate beneficiary of our education system should be kids, not adults. I tend to agree.

Read the full piece here.

CTViewPoints: Innovation necessary to solve persistent certification problems

Since our traditional preparation programs haven’t been solving the longstanding problem of minority teacher recruitment, let’s give Relay a try.Since our traditional preparation programs haven’t been solving the longstanding problem of minority teacher recruitment, let’s give Relay a try.

Read the full piece here.


CONTACT: Nicki Perkins
PHONE: (203) 506-5799

New Haven, Connecticut – Today, September 15, 2016, Connecticut Attorney General George Jepson announced plans to appeal Judge Thomas Moukawsher’s decision in the decade-long trial, CCJEF v. Rell. Although the trail was about the adequacy of Connecticut’s funding of public school education, Judge Moukawsher’s decision was noteworthy because it criticized the irrationality of Connecticut’s education system as a whole–requiring the state to develop a plan that addresses its funding model, graduation standards, teacher evaluation and compensation, and special education. In response to the Attorney General’s decision to appeal, Jeffrey Villar, Executive Director of the Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER), made the following statement:

“We believe that Judge Moukawsher’s most important observation is that the state has a non-delegable duty to provide its students with access to an adequate education. He said that the state cannot delegate its duty to local authorities and then wipe its hands of its responsibility. If local authorities aren’t getting the job done, it’s the state’s duty to intervene. We hope that takeaway stands up to scrutiny on appeal—and also motivates the legislature to push for change with urgency.

“As the Attorney General himself has observed, even though the case is being appealed, our General Assembly does not need to wait to address the very real problems that plague Connecticut’s education system. Judge Moukawsher has drawn attention to some irrational and critical issues with public education in our state. It’s high time we solve them.

“It is my sincere hope that our legislators won’t use this appeal simply as an excuse for further delay. Connecticut can’t afford to wait another ten years before it builds a system that meets the needs of its students or the promise of its constitution.”


 About the Connecticut Council for Education Reform

The Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER)–a statewide, non-partisan, 501(c)(3) not- for-profit organization–works to close the achievement gap and raise academic outcomes for all students in Connecticut. The achievement gap is the disparity in academic achievement between children from low-income families and children of color, and their peers. We advocate for state policies and local practices that research shows have the best chance of raising achievement for high-need student populations.

For more information on CCER, go to


CT Viewpoints (opinion): Judge correctly identified need for systemic public education overhaul.

The ink isn’t yet dry on Judge Thomas Moukawsher’s ruling in CCJEFv. Rell — originally brought in 2005 — and Connecticut must already prepare to defend its educational practices in another court –this time federal.

These decades of trials, for all of their legal distinctions, ultimately come down to the same idea: Although Connecticut has a constitutional obligation to educate its students, it’s doing a bad job for many of them.

asked only to address the constitutionality of our spending– Moukawsher has found himself requiring the state to produce a plan that also addresses standards, human resources, special education, and the relationship between state and local government.

surely undertaking that challenge is better than spending precious state funds on defending future lawsuits, or facing the economic and moral implications of producing further generations of graduates who are unprepared to succeed in life.

Read the full story here.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE–Better Outcomes Require More Than Funding

CONTACT: Nicki Perkins
PHONE: (203) 506-5799


Hartford, Connecticut – Today, September 7th, Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher ruled on an almost-11-year-old case about the constitutionality of Connecticut’s education finance system: Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding (CCJEF) v. Rell. Judge Moukawsher ruled that Connecticut’s process for allocating education funding is irrational and unconstitutional. In response to the ruling, Jeffrey Villar, Executive Director of the Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER), made the following statement:

“CCER agrees with Judge Moukawsher’s finding that Connecticut’s approach to funding public education is irrational. We have repeatedly pointed to the unclear and unjust manner of distributing education dollars through the state’s Education Cost Sharing formula. And as unjust as that formula is, Connecticut has not even been using it of late—relying instead on an ad hoc and highly politicized distribution of funds to districts. When gaps in achievement loom as large as they do in Connecticut, it’s patently unfair to underfund these school districts.

“But it is especially noteworthy that Judge Moukawsher did not merely call for additional spending, rather choosing to emphasize the various ways in which our system needs to be re-worked. I am struck by the similarities between Judge Moukawsher’s apparent outlook and CCER’s policy agenda. An offshoot of a gubernatorial commission convened to find solutions to Connecticut’s unenviable achievement gap, CCER has consistently advocated for holistic reform of the public education system, including the need to make our funding structures more transparent and equitable—but not stopping there.Read More »

The Christian Science Monitor–Connecticut students: unequal – and now unconstitutional

Since 2012, the year that Quesnel began as superintendent, East Hartford has received millions of dollars in extra funding for support services and remedial classes under two state programs aimed at turning around struggling schools.

There are encouraging signs of progress, says Jeffrey Villar, executive director of the Connecticut Council for Educational Reform, a nonprofit that has worked with East Hartford to implement one of the state programs. But he warns that the concentration of poverty in urban districts creates its own challenges that are beyond the control of school principals, such as violent neighborhoods and transient households.

‘The capacity of teachers to meet the needs of kids in their class becomes very taxed when you have a large group of students coming with great stresses in their life experience,’ says Mr. Villar, who spent more than two decades as a teacher and administrator in Connecticut

Read the full story here.

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.

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