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

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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

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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

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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.

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

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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…

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

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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

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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

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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.

Norwich Bulletin: Jeffrey Villar: Abandoning SBAC test would be impractical, fiscally irresponsible

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“Given that Connecticut is federally required to use an annual assessment that meets vigorous external validation, it just doesn’t make financial sense to abandon the SBAC after all the work that went into it, and after only a single use. If we toss out the SBAC, finding a replacement will be an incredibly expensive and time-consuming prospect — one that would actually take years of development.

At a time when our Legislature is desperate to make budget cuts, we owe it to our citizens to make good on our investment in this strong, innovative and meaningful assessment. The SBAC is going to work if we give it the chance.”

Read the full story here.

Hartford Courant: Revamped, More Challenging SAT Arrives Next Month

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Jeffrey Villar, the former superintendent of Windsor and now executive director of the Connecticut Council for Education Reform, said he is concerned about the equity of using the SAT as a state test when wealthier families can pay for prep programs that poorer families can’t afford.

Read the full story here.

CT Post: Malloy’s budget plan tightens belt on education

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Now funded at $43.7 million for 15 communities statewide, the plan would cut Priority District spending back to $42.2 million.

“I have serious concerns about such a proposal, because these cuts (in the priority grant) will specifically target Connecticut’s highest-need districts — precisely those who need it the most,” Jeffrey Villar, executive director of the Connecticut Council for Education reform, said in a prepared statement.

Read the full story here.

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