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Posts tagged ‘education policy’

Veto Attempt Falls Short

The Connecticut General Assembly held a veto session on Monday, July 20, but didn’t have the votes to overturn the governor’s veto of HB 6977, An Act Establishing Qualifications for the Commissioner of Education.

CEA will revisit the issue again in the next legislative session and urge legislators to once again support the measure, and require reasonable qualifications for the state’s education chief, similar to the qualifications required of the Commissioners of Corrections, Public Health, Emergency Management, and other state agency heads.

Read news articles
CT News Junkie article – General Assembly Opts Not to Override Malloy’s Vetoes.

CT Post – Legislature Does Not Override Any of Malloy’s Vetoes.

Hartford Courant – Legislature Does Not Override Any of Nine Malloy Vetoes.

High School Assessment Working Group Votes Unanimously to Eliminate SBAC for 11th Graders

Members of the High School Assessment Working Group heard from SAT and ACT representatives at a meeting in December.

Members of the High School Assessment Working Group heard from SAT and ACT representatives at a meeting in December.

Connecticut’s High School Assessment Working Group late yesterday afternoon voted unanimously to eliminate the 11th grade Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) test, and restore precious teaching and learning time for students.

CEA Executive Director Mark Waxenberg, who represents the Association on the working group said, “This is a positive step forward. It will restore much needed instructional time to engage, energize, and excite our students and reveal new possibilities and opportunities. The unanimous vote by stakeholders reduces the number of high-stakes standardized tests students are required to take while still meeting the standards established for our students in 11th grade.”

In addition to SBAC, many high school juniors take a considerable number of tests in a short amount of time, including the SATs and AP exams, and wonder what the value is in having to take the SBAC, too.

The working group will make its recommendation to the governor and legislature to eliminate SBAC and replace it with a nationally recognized college readiness assessment that students are already taking, such as the SAT or the ACT. The recommendation will also outline the need for the new assessment to be adequately funded, in compliance with federal law, and provide accommodations for students with special needs.

“This option allows us to examine the best assessment for all students in the state,” said Waxenberg.

The group plans to work through the summer to decide upon the best assessment to replace SBAC.

Timeline for Foundations of Reading Survey Delayed

A message from CEA President Sheila Cohen regarding the Foundations of Reading Survey.

I am forwarding to you a memo from the State Department of Education that was sent to all Superintendents.

There have been numerous and different concerns raised regarding the Foundations of Reading Survey, concerns that include its administration, how the results will be reported, to whom the results will be reported, where the results will be stored, and how the results will be used in driving professional development and student instruction.

For now, the timeline has been pushed back until late fall. We will keep you informed as developments occur.

Thank You for all you do every single day!!

 

From: Nemr, Georgette [mailto:Georgette.Nemr@ct.gov]
Sent: Tuesday, September 09, 2014 4:28 PM
To: Reading Survey
Cc: Barzee, Sarah; Pugliese, Nancy
Subject: Reading Survey UPDATE
Importance: High

Dear Reading Survey Liaisons:

Due to questions that have arisen about the implementation of the Reading Survey, the survey administration window dates have been delayed until late fall. We will continue to communicate updates about the status of the survey as soon as we reach a decision about the new administration dates.

In the meantime, if you have any questions, please forward them to our dedicated email address reading.survey@ct.gov.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you and your teachers in the scheduling of the reading survey administration for the fall. Thank you for your assistance and patience.

Georgette Nemr
Bureau of Educator Standards & Certification Connecticut State Department of Education
860-713-6716

Governor takes steps to reduce standardized testing

Governor Dannel P. Malloy today released a letter he sent to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan asking to reduce the number of high-stakes exams for students in Grade 11.

CEA President Sheila Cohen said, “We are extremely pleased, as are the teachers across the state, that this Governor has taken this step to notify the Secretary of Education Arne Duncan that Connecticut will not be part of this continuing corporate push for more standardized testing of our students. Governor Malloy has recognized that student learning and instruction should be at the heart of our public school education system and not test results.”

Read Governor Malloy’s news release and letter to Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

Teacher Appointed to the State Board of Education

Erin B

Teacher Erin Benham has been appointed to the State Board of Education.

Governor Dannel P. Malloy today appointed teacher Erin Benham to serve as a member on the Connecticut State Board of Education.
Click here to read the news release.

CEA President Sheila Cohen issued this statement on today’s appointment:

We are gratified that teacher Erin Benham has been appointed to the State Board of Education, and we are certain that she will advocate for the high quality public education that our students need, deserve, and expect in the State of Connecticut.

Teachers need to be at the center, not the periphery, of setting policy and planning implementation. Policymakers on the State Board of Education will now have the advantage of a new colleague who is a teaching professional and who has direct classroom knowledge and expertise about what works and what does not work well in our public school classrooms.

We are confident that Erin will promote vigorous dialogue on pressing issues such as high-stakes testing, age and grade-level appropriate learning standards, adequate resources, and high-quality teacher evaluation and professional development. We join parents and students in applauding this appointment by Governor Malloy because we know that a classroom teacher will provide the experience, wisdom and strength the state board requires in this time of change.

 

Pryor Justifies his Record at Annual Back-to-School Meeting

One day after announcing he wouldn’t seek a second term, State Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor defended his record, acknowledging there have been necessary revisions and much anxiety about his sweeping education changes.

Pryor told educators at the annual back-to-school meeting, “Let’s not settle for good enough when true excellence is needed. You are on the right track….you are getting the job done.”

Pryor pointed to student progress on NAEP, saying it can be characterized as a “thunderous clap of achievement.”

Regarding the overhaul of teacher evaluation, Pryor said, while the process has had its ups and downs and teachers felt it was a “gotcha game,” the revisions “have been very well justified,” adding that professional dialogue has been elevated with local ideas in local school districts.

Responding to concerns about the overreliance on testing, the department released information about a new program that will provide support to all districts for decreasing time used for assessment. In partnership with Achieve, the state piloted the program in eight districts last year to help them judge the alignment of assessment tools and practices, and decrease the number and reduce the reliance on assessments.

Pryor said, “ Together, we believe we can expand instructional time…do more instruction and less testing.”  Click here for more information.

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Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor Leaving

Connecticut Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor announced today that he is resigning.

In a press release from the governor’s office, Pryor said he will not serve a second term and is actively seeking new professional opportunities.

CEA President Sheila Cohen today wished state Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor well in his prospective endeavors, and said “While we did not disagree with the commissioner on the goal of maintaining and improving public education for all students in Connecticut, we did disagree at times on how to reach that goal.”

Cohen said the spotlight of the state’s largest teachers’ union today is on the future, and her members are ready for a new day that underscores a thorough examination of the non-proven and unscientific reliance on standardized testing for students and teachers, of the establishment and the veracity of best practices as determined by the practicing and certified professional educator, as well as the high-quality education that every single student in Connecticut deserves, regardless of socio-economic factors, language barriers, or physical or other special needs circumstances.

Cohen used the opportunity of the resignation to call on state decision makers to select a successor with extensive public education boots-on-the-ground experience.

“CEA looks forward to the selection of a Connecticut public schools’ state steward who exemplifies a realistic and pragmatic—as well as visionary—voice for teachers, parents, and students. Connecticut’s teachers, with their unparalleled classroom perspective and their irreplaceable voice in public education policymaking, must be major players in every aspect of the determination of the future of public education,” Cohen said.

With the focus on organizing, CEA’s leadership conference is under way

A teacher is one of the most trusted people in his/her community, according to public opinion polls. So, it stands to reason, when groups of teachers band together to organize on critical issues, they can make a powerful difference.

Local union after local union—affiliates of CEA—have countless examples of what’s been accomplished when teachers work together. Never satisfied to rest on their laurels, however, 176 teachers yesterday began their training in CEA’s Summer Leadership track on organizing—the centerpiece of CEA’s annual leadership program.

Torrington teacher Carrie Phillips, along with four of her colleagues, is participating in the exciting new program. “We have many committed members of the Torrington Education Association (TEA), but our goal is to interest a greater number in becoming activists,” says Phillips.

She continues, “I see a great deal of talent and dedication among our newer TEA members, and I want to communicate effectively about what we can accomplish together. The best local associations are inclusive and driven by shared decision making. I want TEA to be all that it can be and that is inextricably linked to member activism.”

According to Phillips, a strong TEA is a critical voice in the community. “There’s no downplaying the reality that good working conditions make great learning conditions for our students. Relationship building is important both within our association and when reaching out to the community to develop approaches that increase student achievement and promote strong communities. The bottom line is that we want to make high-quality public education a reality for each and every youngster. ”

 

Teachers abuzz about Kozol’s speech

Jonathan Kozol’s speech this morning at the CEA Summer Leadership Conference hit a nerve with teachers when he said, “Using test scores to judge teachers is an absolute atrocity, even as one element of a teacher’s evaluation, it’s unfair to schools, teachers, and young children.”

SONY DSC

Educator and author Jonathan Kozol told CEA members that the nation’s obsession with testing is having consequences that are devisive for a democratic nation.

Ashley Porter, an animal science teacher in Region 1, said Kozol was inspirational.“I was glued to him. He mirrored what a lot of us are really thinking.”

Amity social studies teacher Peter Downhaur agreed. “It was really good that he discussed not using test scores to judge, but to use them to help improve our instruction. That’s what we do as teachers and what’s beneficial.”

Ronda Ranft, a teacher in Region 6, said Kozol was “very truthful” about what’s happening in education today.

“It was a powerful message about change and the persistent inequities in public education,” she said.

Jennifer Aguzzi a Madison teacher, said Kozol’s words were especially meaningful because she’s been doing a lot of work and research on teacher evaluation. “Our district has been a critic of the state’s top-down approach to teacher evaluation. His speech was very validating to the work we’ve done.”

After his speech, dozens of teachers waited in line to speak with Kozol and get autographed copies of his latest book, Fire in the Ashes.

Fairfield teacher Jeannette Faber acknowledged Kozol’s role as a champion of children and an advocate of a strong voice of educators in public policy development.

“Unfortunately, policymakers aren’t listening like they should or taking the actions that are necessary,” she said.

Jonathan Kozol signed copies of his book for teachers, including Jeannette Faber of Fairfield.

Jonathan Kozol signed copies of his book for teachers, including Jeannette Faber of Fairfield.

To watch video of Kozol’s speech and read a full report on his remarks,
click here.

 

Raising creative thinkers, not test-takers

Two recent stories, including Gina Barreca’s column, “We’re Teaching to the Test—Not Students’ Futures,” in The Hartford Courant and Philip Kovacs blog post, “An Open Letter to My Son’s Kindergarten Teacher,” clearly convey what teachers and parents have been saying about the effects of high-stakes testing on children. The articles raise questions about the problems associated with our country’s focus on testing, not teaching.

The stories are well-written and worth reading and sharing with family, friends, and lawmakers.

Barreca writes

I’m worried that we’re no longer teaching students how to think critically or to write well.

Everything I’m hearing from teachers, students and parents suggests that, with the standardized testing epidemic sweeping through our nation’s public schools, what we’re teaching the next generation is how to fill in the blanks and work from templates.

American students are forfeiting creativity, inspiration and contextual understanding in order to do better on high-stakes exams. It’s a meretricious trade.

Read the entire story, “We’re Teaching to the Test—Not Students’ Futures.”

In a letter to his son’s kindergarten teacher, Kovacs, an associate professor at the University of Alabama, writes:

I’d prefer that you skip tests all together and let him hang out in one of your learning centers. In fact, I’m looking into the legality of me opting him out of high-stakes, standardized tests for the entire time he’s in the system. I want to argue that the 4th Amendment protects us from unreasonable search and seizure. A testing schedule of 40 days is, arguably, unreasonable.

I think we can change the world’s trajectory by raising inquisitive beings, and the place to start is in your classroom. Please let me know what I can do to support you this year. If I am around too much, am too eager to help, know that I am just making sure that my boy, and the boys and girls around him, are getting the best education they can…where education means love of learning, not memorizing disassociated facts.

Read the entire article, “An Open Letter to My Son’s Kindergarten Teacher.”