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Posts from the ‘Teacher Evaluation’ Category

Congress Approves Historic Bill to Create Greater Opportunities for Students to Succeed

“We applaud Congress for getting the job done—passing the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA)—and doing what is right for students, teachers, and public education,” said CEA President Sheila Cohen. “ESSA represents a new beginning for students who have suffered too long under Connecticut’s failed policies of top-down reform and a broken system where excessive test prep and standardized testing rules the classroom.”

The U.S. Senate today passed ESSA after it passed the House last week. President Obama is expected to sign the bill into law tomorrow. Read CEA’s news release here.

“ESSA gives students new opportunities, support, tools, and time to learn,” said Cohen.

The bipartisan bill reauthorizes the federal education law known as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). The most recent version of ESEA, known as No Child Left Behind, was signed into law by President Bush in 2002. Read more

Continued Need for Improvements to Teacher Evaluation

CEA President Sheila Cohen spoke to

CEA President Sheila Cohen (at right) spoke with other members of the Performance Evaluation Advisory Council about the future of teacher evaluation in Connecticut.

A lot is up in the air for the future of teacher evaluation as members of the U.S. House and Senate hash out new federal education policy this fall. The versions of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) passed by the House and Senate don’t require teacher evaluation plans, so Connecticut will likely have increased discretion going forward to make changes to educator evaluation if state lawmakers see fit.

“Regardless of what we want to plan for, a lot is going to depend on what happens in Washington, D.C.,” CEA President Sheila Cohen told other members of Connecticut’s Performance Evaluation Advisory Council (PEAC) at a meeting yesterday. “Obviously that is going to be the main driver in terms of what our guidelines end up being and in terms of what our mandates are.”

Until a new version of ESEA comes out of Washington, PEAC members are focusing on improving the state’s evaluation system as it currently stands.

Training for evaluators is one area that CEA leaders on the Council have previously highlighted as needing attention, and yesterday PEAC heard from administrators in the Wolcott Public Schools about their efforts to improve evaluator training.

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Getting the New Teacher Evaluation System Right

CEA Executive Director Mark Waxenberg, at right,

CEA Executive Director Mark Waxenberg, at right, clarified the teacher evaluation dispute resolution process during a recent Performance Evaluation Advisory Council (PEAC) meeting.

There will no longer be any ambiguity about whether school superintendents can cede authority to others for final dispute resolution connected with a school district Educator Evaluation and Support plan. Questioned by CEA Executive Director Mark Waxenberg at a public meeting this week, the State Department of Education’s Chief Talent Officer Sarah Barzee confirmed that a superintendent can assign the job of dispute resolution to a local Professional Development and Evaluation Committee (PDEC). The PDEC can design a process that results in the final decision regarding a dispute being made by educators other than the superintendent. Many teacher evaluation plans already include dispute resolution processes that involve a PDEC or sub-committee of both teachers and administrators, but in most of the plans, the final decision making authority still resides with the superintendent. This clarification from the Performance Evaluation Advisory Council (PEAC) expands the options for dispute resolution.

CEA believes that teachers should have a strong voice on PDECs, and dispute resolution is an appropriate role for the educators who staff the committees because the role promotes teacher decision-making and a climate of trust and respect in school districts.

The exchange over the dispute resolution process, a required element of district educator evaluation and support plans, came at this week’s PEAC meeting. Read more

Resources to Support Educator Evaluation Committees

Professional Development and Evaluation Committees (PDEC) are beginning to review and revise teacher evaluation plans for next year, and CEA is offering resources to support the committees in their work.

New resources available at are as follows.

  1. Teacher Evaluation Plan Review and Revision: What should your PDEC do?  This PowerPoint presentation outlines five basic steps for PDECs to use when reviewing their plans. It will help committees discover what’s working well, what’s challenging, and how the plan aligns with the evaluation guidelines’ requirements.
  2.  Teacher Evaluation Plan Review and Revision: What should your PDEC discuss? This section of the website contains several documents pertaining to specific evaluation components and processes for the PDEC to discuss.

Find these documents and more on the CEA website here.

YOU. There’s no substitute.

Teachers excel at building relationships and acting as champions for kids. Both are irreplaceable when it comes to quality teaching and learning–a fact that corporate reformers keep ignoring. “Teaching is not a business” is a must-read commentary this Sunday morning.








Teacher Fair Dismissal Law

The new school year is still weeks away, but it’s never too early to start preparing for another evaluation. CEA advocacy over the past two years has yielded important changes to the Connecticut Teacher Evaluation Guidelines. You can review those improvements here.

It’s also important to recognize that changes to the Connecticut Teacher Fair Dismissal Law became effective this week. You can review the revised law here.

Remember CEA’s Professional Practice, Policy and Research Department is always there to help you or answer questions. Contact or

Finally, a reminder that CEA’s annual Summer Leadership Conference has workshops on teacher evaluation. If you are interested in attending, please contact your local Association president.


New teacher evaluation: Was it all worth it?

Dramatic changes in teacher evaluation—too many imposed from above rather than collaboratively developed locally—have drawn legitimate criticism. And as professional educators have advocated for better systems, often they’ve been caught in transition phases that cause everything from angst to tears to valuable time diverted from teaching and learning. Now, as assessments of teacher evaluation overhauls are being assembled, some people are asking: Was it all worth it?

Read the Hechinger Report story: How many bad teachers are there? Not many, according to new – and expensive – evaluations.


CCSS Task Force Meets for the Last Time: Puts Forth Recommendations

On the national education scene, the Gates Foundation is making headlines for calling for a two-year moratorium on states or school districts making any high-stakes decisions based on tests aligned with the new standards. Closer to home, Connecticut has taken a step forward on the implementation of Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in our state because the CCSS task force has wrapped up business. Yesterday the task force held its final meeting. Two online group edits are scheduled before the final report is presented to Governor Malloy and is available publicly.

The task force was careful to write that this is not the end. The group, which worked over a three-month period on ways to improve implementation of the CCSS across the state, found that future work and focus need to occur to help support teachers and students.

SONY DSCThe task force, made up of teachers, administrators, parents, board of education members, and State Department of Education (SDE) officials, incorporated information from their own districts, guest presenters, and from the SDE to develop a gap analysis of the implementation process. The gap analysis discovered the following.

1) The state’s action to implement CCSS and actions taken by some districts to implement were not always in sync.

2) A significant variance exists among districts in their preparedness for the CCSS and in their adoption of the best practices demonstrated by many of the most successful districts.

3) While successful districts benefitted from established benchmarks and strategic plans mapped out over several years, the realization of uniform implementation would have benefitted  from a strong, benchmarked implementation plan provided by the state.

4) Through a survey commissioned by both teachers’ unions, the Connecticut Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers-Connecticut, teachers expressed concerns about the amount of time that they had to learn, develop, and implement the new standards since they were adopted.

5) The successful introduction of a new, comprehensive set of grade-level expectations requires clear, consistent communication.

The task force found many areas in need of improvement—two of the biggest include professional development and time. The draft report found that districts that demonstrated successful implementation “all shared a system-wide commitment to improving and growing the capacity of staff at all levels. In addition, successful districts invested significant resources in professional development positions to provide necessary time, focus and quality of skills to help all district staff manage the change.”

The group also noted that time matters, and districts that demonstrated successful implementation all devoted enough time for teachers to learn, develop and implement the standards in their classroom. Those districts provided “time for teachers to prepare units and lessons individually and collaboratively with colleagues. Successful districts provided necessary time for the development of important instructional competencies, providing early release days, late start days and paid time during the summer for curriculum writing, professional development and teacher collaboration.”

The task force members agreed that all recommendations must be evidence based, actionable, inclusive of all stakeholders, and measurable. In a consensus vote, the task force put forth numerous recommendations in the following categories.

1) Develop clear and consistent knowledge of CCSS at the classroom, school, district, and state level.

2) Provide the necessary support and training to effectively transition the CCSS into district- defined curricula.

3) Support all teachers and instructional staff in developing the capacity to master the instructional shifts that the CCSS necessitates.

4) Engage all stakeholders in a rich dialogue regarding CCSS that is marked by multiple points of interaction, jargon-free communication and a commitment to keep teachers, parents, and community members informed, and able to participate in the process.

5) Provide the necessary resources to support effective implementation across all state districts and schools.

The task force concluded that the process was a “learning continuum and recognizes that future work and focus outside of the task force need to occur.” The group recommended that more needs to be done by stakeholders in the areas of the CCSS specifically as it relates to students with special needs, providing developmentally appropriate instructional strategies to engage students, formative and summative assessment—including SBAC, simultaneous and interdependent initiatives such as teacher evaluation.

A final document will be approved over the next few days and presented to the governor by June 30.

A copy of the report will be posted on line as soon as it becomes available.


Pleas for more time to get CCSS right

The state’s Educators Common Core Implementation Task Force is expected to approve final recommendations this afternoon and then forward them to Governor Dannel P. Malloy. The group is working to improve implementation of the CCSS across the state. The education community is hopeful that the recommendations will address issues teachers have brought to the forefront, including the amount of time, support and materials, and professional learning and training opportunities available to them.

Many have spoken out about the rollout needing more time, and today the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation joined the chorus. The Foundation called for a two-year moratorium on states’ making decisions based on tests aligned with the new standards.

The National Education Association, the country’s largest teachers’ union, welcomed the Gates Foundation’s letter on the standards. “We absolutely need more time not only in using them in high-stakes decisions about teachers, but in using them in high-stakes decisions about students, too,” said Becky Pringle, secretary-treasurer of the association.

Read today’s NY Times story Delay Urged on Actions Tied to Tests by Schools.


State Board of Education Approves Changes to Educator Evaluation

The State Board of Education early this afternoon approved changes to Connecticut’s Guidelines for Educator Evaluation. The State Board acted on...

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