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Posts tagged ‘Connecticut’

Special Edition of the CEA Advisor in Your Mailbox

You may have already received your special edition of the CEA Advisor—if not it will be in your mailbox soon. Like all issues, you can also read it online.

With a new school year Connecticut teachers are facing many challenges and opportunities, some familiar and some new. Learn more about

Change Is on the Horizon This Back-to-School Season

Commissioner of Education Dianna Wentzell welcomed superintendents to a new school year at the State Department of Education’s annual back-to-school meeting.

While the last weeks of summer vacation bring much of the same back-to-school prep across Connecticut as they do every year, superintendents and other education leaders attending the Commissioner of Education’s annual back to school conference yesterday looked ahead to some changes that could have a big impact on Connecticut classrooms.

The laws and policies that govern much of what happens in schools are set by politicians, and, with elections taking place this November, the winners elected to these crucial positions will have the ability to shape our schools for years to come. Read more

Educator Certification Shortage Areas for 2018-19

If you’re working under an endorsement that is considered a shortage area you may be eligible for benefits such as loan forgiveness and mortgage assistance.

Based on a survey done in the fall, the State Department of Education every year releases the Certification Shortage Areas for the coming year. All of the shortage areas for 2018-19 remain the same as in 2017-18.

The designated shortage areas for 2018-19 are as follows: Read more

Teachers Run Statewide Relay in Support of Safe Schools

As students around the country marked the 19th anniversary of the mass shooting at Columbine High School on April 20, teachers in Connecticut sent a clear message that they, too, are pushing for stronger congressional action on gun violence in classrooms.

Representing all eight counties in Connecticut, dozens of teachers took part in a statewide relay race to the State Capitol—Running for Our Lives—to build on the momentum of a student-led movement demanding action for safer schools. Educators came from every part of the state, wearing colors they chose to represent their counties.

Runners wear a rainbow of colors to represent the counties where they teach.

Read more

CEA Helps Schoolchildren and Families Receive Free Dental Care

CEA partnered with the Connecticut Foundation for Dental Outreach this year to get the message out about a no-cost clinic at Torrington High School April 20-21. Now in its 12th year, the Connecticut Mission of Mercy (CTMOM) clinic provides free dental care to those who are underserved or uninsured.


Holding English- and Spanish-language flyers distributed by CEA, Ana Francisca Flores and her seven-year-old son, Rosbin Osvaldo Flores, made the trip from Bridgeport so that Rosbin could get fillings—an expense many families cannot afford.

Julie Eagan, who came with her 15-year-old son, Jonathan, learned about the clinic through flyers posted at Torrington Middle School. CEA distributed hundreds of flyers to teachers and schools administrators in the hopes that families in need of services would know that there are no-cost options available. The CTMOM free dental clinic offers people of all ages a wide range of oral healthcare, including cleanings, fillings, extractions, X-rays, fluoride treatments, sealants, root canals, limited partial dentures, and general health screenings.

“The cost of dental care leaves many unable to afford it,” said Torrington Education Association President Mary Juliano. “The dental clinic provides an invaluable charitable service to the residents of Connecticut, especially those in the northwest corner. To be able to come to Torrington High School and receive a dental cleaning free of charge is wonderful, and it is my hope that many adults and children will take advantage of the opportunity.” Read more

An Open Letter to State Legislators

“Increasing property taxes for residents is not the comprehensive solution Connecticut needs to balance the state budget. We need a budget that works for all of us,” a coalition of ten organizations, which includes CEA, has written legislators.

Proposals to balance the state budget by shifting costs to cities and towns don’t sit well with Connecticut voters. The coalition of education organizations and groups representing cities and towns is urging legislators to reject these proposals.

Join us. Contact your legislators.

Tell your legislators to oppose any plans that will shift the cost of teacher retirement contributions from the state to cities and towns. A cost shift will lead to higher local property taxes and cuts to much-needed services in our communities.

Read the coalition’s open letter to legislators.

SBAC Validity Linked to Use and Purpose; SDE Unveils New Growth Model

masetery exam comm

The state’s Mastery Examination Committee met today to discusses purposes of student assessment and the state’s new growth model.

At a meeting of the state’s Mastery Examination Committee today, committee members discussed the purpose and use of standardized tests.

“One of the real things that occurred in the last era was a misuse of the state exam,” Commissioner of Education Dianna Wentzell said. “It created an over-focus on the exam itself and a narrowing of the curriculum in some cases to the things that were assessed.”

Don Williams, CEA director of Policy, Research, and Reform, pointed out that education researcher James Popham has strongly cautioned against misusing standardized tests designed for one purpose to fulfill a completely separate purpose.

Popham writes that the validity of a test, such as SBAC, which is designed to evaluate school and district performance, is rendered invalid if it is used for purposes not fully supported by evidence. Read more

Activities for Kids Over Winter Break

SleddingWinter break is almost here, and if you have children of your own at home you may be looking for some ideas to keep them occupied. Here are just some of the events, activities, and places in Connecticut you might want to check out with your kids, grandkids, or nieces and nephews. Read more

Educators Provide Recommendations for Teacher Evaluation System

Is Connecticut’s new teacher evaluation system being implemented effectively? Should there be regional efforts to boost the system’s chances of success? And are there improvements that need to be made in the next session of the Connecticut General Assembly?

These are some of the questions being quietly studied by a small legislative subcommittee with a big reach. It’s called MORE Commission and it is charged with coming up with regional solutions to today’s pressing issues.

More’s Education subcommittee met this morning in Hartford. The working group heard how the evaluation system is progressing in school districts in Windsor and Litchfield, and what must be done to improve upon it, including allowing more flexibility, more training, and a greater focus on teaching and learning, not paperwork.

“It can’t be a gottcha system,” said Debra Wheeler, superintendent of Litchfield Public Schools. And it can’t be “a cookie cutter format,” Wheeler continued. “We need more flexibility than the Connecticut guidelines provide.”

Windsor teacher and CEA Professional Issues Coordinator Lisa Bress said the new evaluation system is an extremely time-consuming process, one that some educators feel distracts them from their ability to spend ample time with their students in the classroom. “We need to focus on improving teaching and learning rather than paperwork and compliance,” said Bress.

Subcommittee member Representative Chris Davis, agreed, “We want our teachers focusing on teaching and students not on documentation.”

“To make continuous improvements, we need to hear the voices of the teachers impacted by the plan, and take time without penalty to make necessary improvements and provide additional resources,” said Bress.

Training and evaluation

The state model requires a three-hour orientation process for teachers, but both Litchfield and Windsor provided additional training. Wheeler said her district spent a tremendous amount of time in the goal-setting process so teachers could understand what is expected of them and how they would be evaluated. She recommends districts “spend more than the allotted time helping teachers understand the process.”

Bress said her school district took extra steps during last year’s pilot program, including providing eight days of training, and other initiatives to make sure teachers felt trained and comfortable. Despite the district’s best efforts, implementation was still fraught with problems.

“We were being evaluated during a pilot period using a system that hadn’t fully been implemented or had the bugs worked out yet,” said Bress.  This year is better, according to Bress, but she feels bad for districts that didn’t participate in the pilot. “They are being evaluated while learning the system and that’s stressful and counterproductive. There should be a moratorium on punitive aspects of evaluation while teachers are given the opportunity to learn in a pilot year. That would be a benefit going forward.”

Bress said the new system lends itself to the TEAM or coaching model, and, in her district, she met with teachers on a weekly basis to collaborate and discuss differentiated instruction and how to meet goals and provide professional development that will help teachers improve their practice.

Bress and others suggested a regional pool of available complementary evaluators that districts could tap into to reduce the burden on districts and principals. Bress said there’s a big difference between a coach and an evaluator, and she doesn’t believe in having colleagues be complementary evaluators. Instead, she suggested using retired teachers or other qualified and trained evaluators.

The subcommittee will consider today’s recommendations and will create a list of education issues it will present to the legislature next year.

WDRC’s Brad Davis Supports CEA’s Sandy Hook Memorial Sculpture: It’s Emotional, Passionate, and a Tremendous Gift to the State

CEA Vice President Jeff Leake and Marilyn Parkinson Thrall, the artist creating the CEA Sandy Hook Memorial sculpture, were guests on the Brad Davis Talk of Connecticut Radio Show on WDRC this morning, discussing the latest on the memorial sculpture.

“It’s going to be a tremendous gift to the state, all of us, and the country,” Davis told his audience. “It’s going to be loved and cherished because it’s about children and teachers.”

Davis said he was touched and moved by photographs of the bronze sculpture that memorializes the heroism and sacrifice that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

“It’s very emotional and passionate,” he told his listeners. He said he “just lost it,” when he first looked at the photograph of the sculpture that includes four life-size bronze figures—a teacher and three children—on a circle of stone, surrounded by a circular stone wall. Thrall says the design captures the innocence of youth and evokes a “trusting feeling.”

CEA’s Sandy Hook Memorial sculpture memorializes the heroism and sacrifice that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

CEA’s Sandy Hook Memorial sculpture memorializes the heroism and sacrifice that occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

During the live interview at 9 a.m., Davis, whose mother was a teacher, encouraged his listeners to go to to see the photograph of the sculpture for themselves.  “If my reaction is any indication, it’s going to be very emotional,” he told his viewers.

Leake, who is president of the Connecticut Education Foundation, said, “We are pleased and honored to work with Marilyn and to create this lasting memorial to the teachers and children directly impacted by the tragedy, as well as teachers and children all over the state and across our country.”

Teachers in Connecticut and across the country have been very generous and supportive of the fund. Donations to CEA’s Sandy Hook Memorial and Scholarship Fund are still being accepted.

Donations can be made at, or checks payable to the Connecticut Education Foundation may be sent to

Connecticut Education Foundation
Sandy Hook Memorial & Scholarship Fund
Capitol Place, Suite 500
21 Oak Street
Hartford, CT  06106

Talks are under way regarding a permanent home for the memorial in Newtown or Hartford. CEA plans to unveil the sculpture before the first anniversary of the mass shooting at the school.

Click here to listen to the interview on WDRC Radio.