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Posts tagged ‘Common Core’

Tony Mullen: This Is Critical Core Knowledge

2009 National Teacher of the Year Tony Mullen

2009 National Teacher of the Year Tony Mullen teaches at the Arch School — Greenwich’s alternative high school.

What content knowledge is truly important to teachers? Greenwich alternative high school teacher and 2009 National Teacher of the Year Tony Mullen shares his thoughts in a piece for pre-service teachers at Mercy College.

This year will be more challenging for both teachers and students because we have become a nation obsessed with standardized test scores. Curricula and lesson plans will be modified to accommodate Common Core Standards and the federal government will be hoping that U.S. students outperform Finnish students on math and science tests.

Read the entire piece here.

Education Commissioner Authorizes Flexibility to Start School Year

Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor spoke to

Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor spoke to superintendents gathered for the annual back-to-school meeting this morning.

While there is no formal approval from the U.S. Department of Education allowing Connecticut school districts flexibility when it comes to deciding whether teachers will be evaluated based on how their students perform on state tests—Commissioner Stefan Pryor today said the State Department of Education (SDE) is authorizing that flexibility.

Pryor told Connecticut superintendents gathered for the annual back-to-school meeting that he is optimistic that Connecticut will ultimately receive federal approval.

“We need to move ahead as if we’ve been approved and set forth guidelines for flexibility,” said Pryor. “The school year is upon us. It’s time to proceed. So we are going to proceed as if approved.”

“We’re confident our waiver will be signed,” Governor Dannel Malloy told the group of educators. “We don’t want to be any more test-bound than we need to be. We hear, we listen, and understand how confusing this is for our teachers, and we want to work together.”

The Connecticut State Board of Education on July 15 authorized the SDE commissioner to seek a federal waiver to provide Connecticut school districts flexibility on two fronts: administering just one test to students during the next school year— the Common Core-aligned Smarter Balanced Assessment or the CMT and CAPT—and giving local school districts the power to decide whether or not to include that test data in teachers’ evaluations.

Both waiver provisions apply to the 2013-14 school year. State officials said that there is still a requirement that districts include student learning indicators in teacher evaluations.

CEA Executive Director Mark Waxenberg said teachers are prepared to take the steps to help students achieve and is pleased that the state is taking action to move forward.

“The start of the school year is only weeks away, and it’s critical that everyone—teachers, administrators, and families—is prepared for the changes ahead and trained in the nuances and expectations of new curriculum and assessment procedures,” said Waxenberg.

Pryor said participating in the Smarter Balanced Assessment field test “is advantageous” –allowing districts to accelerate into the Common Core era.

Districts will need to submit an application to the SDE outlining their specific plans, which must include:

  • Whether to utilize the Smarter Balanced field test, CAPT and CMT, or both. If districts can’t decide which assessment to use, the CAPT and CMT will be the default. Districts selecting and approved for the Smarter Balanced field test will still be responsible for administering the science sections of the CAPT and CMT.
  • If they will use state test data in evaluations—and if so, how—or opt for another alternative to comprise the 22.5 percent of a teacher’s evaluation that must include state standardized tests measuring student learning.
  • How they are technologically prepared to administer the Smarter Balanced field test that is only available online. Also districts must be prepared to receive test results much later than usual, likely in the early fall.

Any approvals granted to districts by the SDE will be contingent upon federal authorization.

For more information and a teacher toolkit, visit http://www.connecticutseed.org/.

You can watch video of the entire back-to-school meeting here.

Watch Pryor’s comments on the federal waiver below.

Common Core Information from the State Department of Education

Common Core State Standards are set to be implemented soon and you may find this State Department of Education Academic Office August Newsletter of interest.

The following are featured in the newsletter.

  • Common Core District Lead Revisions
  • Videos about the Common Core for Teacher Professional Development
  • Governor Malloy Announces $10 Million Technology Grant for Schools
  • Technology Readiness Tool 3.0—Tool for District Leaders
  • Algebra I Curriculum and Mathematics Unit Planning Organizers

State Board of Education Hears About Funding Concerns

Top Connecticut lawmakers continue to hammer out details of the state budget that will be put before the full House and Senate sometime in the upcoming weeks. One of the issues on which they will have to reach agreement is funding for the implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and the state’s new evaluation system.

Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor told the State Board of Education this week that there are significant differences in the amounts designated for implementation between Governor Dannel Malloy’s proposed budget and the budget proposed by the legislature’s Appropriations Committee.

“One item in the governor’s budget that the Appropriations Committee zeroed out was the Common Core,” Pryor said.

Pryor said that the governor proposed $18.3 million for both the implementation of the CCSS and the full roll out of the state’s new evaluation system.

The Appropriations Committee’s budget includes no funding for the CCSS and only $5 million for the full implementation of the new evaluation system. The state has budgeted $6.3 million just for the purposes of piloting the evaluation system this year.

Pryor acknowledged that the Appropriations Committee’s budget is a draft and that legislators are actively working to revise it.

“All the same, this would seem to be a significant problem,” Pryor said.  “The exclusion of CCSS dollars would appear to be a major oversight.”

Pryor said that there is support in the General Assembly for CCSS. As Governor Malloy also strongly supports the proper implementation of CCSS, indications are that funding will be restored in the final state budget to make for a smoother transition to CCSS and the new evaluation system.

Pryor said, “It’s essential we at least partially match districts’ financial effort.”

CEA leaders are monitoring budget negotiations at the Capitol carefully. It’s paramount to teachers that new education initiatives receive appropriate funding and support.