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Posts from the ‘Professional Issues’ Category

New Guidelines Spell Out Importance of Union Voice in Teacher Evaluation

New guidelinesnew PDEC guidelines distributed to superintendents this week have the potential to increase the effectiveness of local Professional Development and Evaluation Committees (PDECs) and ensure teachers’ voices are heard in discussions about teacher evaluation and professional learning.

The guidelines were developed by the Performance Evaluation Advisory Council (PEAC) after CEA and AFT-Connecticut brought teachers’ concerns to the council.

“Most districts want to follow what is required by statute, but sometimes there is confusion or districts aren’t aware of what is required,” said CEA Teacher Development Specialist Kate Field. “I’ve found in my work with local Associations that there are often teachers and administrators who aren’t aware that there needs to be a representative from the local bargaining unit on the PDEC.” Read more

New Master’s Degree Requirement Only Applies to New Graduates

_MG_3349A law that just went into effect will impact teachers getting their first Connecticut educator certificate on or after July 1, 2016, but educators who already hold a Connecticut educator certificate will not be impacted.

In 2012, the Connecticut General Assembly passed new legislation requiring a master’s degree to advance most provisional level educator certificates to the professional level. Connecticut General Statutes, Section 10-145b (g), state that “on or after July 1, 2016, to qualify for a professional educator certificate, a person who holds or has held a provisional educator certificate… shall hold a master’s degree in an appropriate subject matter area, as determined by the State Board of Education, related to such teacher’s certification endorsement area.” Read more

National Teacher of the Year Talks Evaluations, Ranking Schools, and Giving Back

Jahana Hayes spoke at a pep rally in her honor at John F. Kennedy High School after being named National Teacher of the Year.

History teacher Jahana Hayes spoke at a pep rally in her honor at John F. Kennedy High School after being named National Teacher of the Year.

“There’s this common misconception that teachers don’t like evaluation, and that’s not accurate at all,” National Teacher of the Year Jahana Hayes told WNPR’s Lucy Nalpathanchil.

In an interview yesterday on Where We Live, Hayes touched on many aspects of her teaching career at John F. Kennedy High School in Waterbury, her experiences growing up, and what it’s been like to be thrust onto the national stage. A long list of news outlets have featured Hayes and her inspiring story since she was named National Teacher of the Year earlier this month, however Nalpathanchil also probed into Hayes’ thoughts on current education policies and issues. Read more

PEAC Looks to Waiver Districts, Considers Increased Flexibility

Weston Superintendent Colleen Palmer shared her districts teacher evaluatoin plan with PEAC members.

Weston Superintendent Colleen Palmer shared her district’s teacher evaluation plan with PEAC members.

When it comes to compliance with the state teacher evaluation guidelines, some districts are in a class by themselves. These are the school districts that developed locally grown evaluation plans that didn’t entirely comply with state guidelines and then received “waivers” from the SDE to implement them.

Weston and LEARN are two examples. And they’ve caught the attention of the Performance Evaluation Advisory Council (PEAC).

PEAC is considering additional ways to increase flexibility to districts and, at a meeting Thursday, members heard from districts in Connecticut that are already provided greater flexibility in their teacher evaluation plans. Read more

Why We Opt-Out: CT Black & Latino Parents Discuss SBAC

A panel at Trinity College

A room full of parents, students, educators, and community members listened to a panel at Trinity College discuss problems with SBAC and test prep in urban public schools.

Although much of the media coverage surrounding parents opting their children out of state tests has focused on white, suburban parents, these families are not alone in taking a stand against tests they see as having no value for their children or schools.

At a panel discussion last week at Trinity College, Black and Latino parents shared their own stories of opting their children out of SBAC and talked about the lost instructional time and excessive test prep students and schools are facing.
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New CEA TV Ad Steps Up Campaign Against Unreliable Testing


Many CEA members are featured in a new commercial about the problems with unreliable testing.

Teachers are turning up the volume on the problem of unreliable testing that has overtaken Connecticut public school classrooms.

“We are airing new TV and digital ads that raise awareness—from parents to policymakers—about the need to reduce testing and test prep and restore more time for learning in our classrooms to help every student achieve,” said CEA President Sheila Cohen.

“As Connecticut’s largest teacher organization, we have stepped up and spoken out consistently about the problems associated with the SBAC test. Now we are taking our efforts to a new level with our advertising campaign,” she said.

Connecticut teachers are relentless in their focus on student growth and achievement despite the state’s ill-advised and misguided support of the unfair, invalid, and unreliable SBAC test. Read more

List of States Abandoning SBAC, PARCC Growing

Connecticut is one of only 14 states still using SBAC. A recent report on state testing by Education Week shows that 61% of public school students live in states that are NOT using the federally funded PARCC or SBAC tests.

Six years ago, 45 states had signed onto the federally sponsored tests, but in 2015-16, only 20 are staying with those tests.

And those numbers don’t demonstrate the full loss of confindence the tests have experienced. Of the 20 states using SBAC and PARCC, five are not using those tests to measure high school achievement.

Connecticut teachers have been sharing research that shows SBAC is unfair, unreliable, and invalid, and is not an accurate way to measure teacher performance.

Proposed legislation here in Connecticut (SB 380) would permanently decouple teacher evaluations and state mastery examination scores (SBAC). Unless legislators act, districts will be required to start using unreliable SBAC scores in teacher evaluations in the 2017-2018 school year.

Your legislators need to hear from you! Click here and tell your legislators why SBAC shouldn’t be part of your evaluation.
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More Testing, More Test Prep in Public Schools

Photo by Lindsey Turner via Flickr.

Photo by Lindsey Turner via Flickr.

More evidence that the amount of time devoted to standardized testing and test prep in public schools is on the rise is in today with the results of a survey of superintendents.

Sixty-seven percent of superintendents in the nationally representative Gallup poll said that their districts are now spending more time preparing students for standardized tests than they used to. Sixty-one percent said students now take more standardized tests than they used to.

The survey, which was conducted in November, found that only 10 percent of superintendents thought the federal government had done a good or excellent job with education policy over the last five years.

The Gallup poll asked several other questions—you can read the complete results here.

CEA to Introduce New Teacher Evaluation Guidelines for PEAC Review

CEA President Sheila Cohen and Executive Director Mark Waxenberg shared CEA's plan to present new teacher evaluation guidelines with the Performance Evaluation Advisory Council at its meeting this morning.

CEA President Sheila Cohen and Executive Director Mark Waxenberg shared the Association’s plan to present new teacher evaluation guidelines with the Performance Evaluation Advisory Council at its meeting this morning.

CEA is proposing significant, concrete improvements to Connecticut’s teacher evaluation guidelines based on new opportunity in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) that passed the U.S. Senate this morning.

At today’s Performance Evaluation Advisory Council (PEAC) meeting in Hartford, CEA President Sheila Cohen and CEA Executive Director Mark Waxenberg, who represent teachers on the council, announced the Association’s plan to refocus state education policy on student learning, not excessive testing.

Cohen said, “Given the numerous issues that continue to interfere with a successful educator evaluation system, teachers—together through CEA—feel it is important to act and take a leadership role in proposing new evaluation guidelines.” Read more

Building Meaningful Relationships Between School and Home

Speaker Anne Henderson listens to educators and parent and community leaders at a forum tonight in Rocky Hill.

Presenter Anne Henderson, standing, invites input from educators and parent and community leaders at a forum in Rocky Hill.

Successfully engaging families and communities is one of the most important means schools have of ensuring student success, yet community engagement frequently isn’t the priority it deserves to be. Today, on American Education Week’s Parents Day, we look back at the information author and parent engagement expert Anne Henderson shared at a CEA sponsored forum on how to change that school-home relationship.

Henderson, a co-author of Beyond the Bake Sale: The Essential Guide to Family/School Partnerships, was the keynote speaker at a forum titled Welcoming Schools: How to have effective two-way communications, held for teachers and community members in Rocky Hill in 2013.

According to Henderson’s definition, successful parent engagement isn’t simply about recruiting parents for fundraisers or holding parenting workshops—instead the key is building meaningful relationships. Read more