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Posts tagged ‘educator evaluation’

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

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 []
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

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

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.


Deadline for Districts to Submit Teacher Evaluation Plans Moved to June 13

The deadline for districts to submit teacher evaluation plans for 2014-15, previously set for June 2, has been changed to a window allowing submissions between June 2 and June 13. Districts that submit plans during that time period should have feedback by July 3.

Districts that anticipate not being able to meet the deadline window can contact the State Department of Education, no later than June 2, to request a late submission. Click here for more information from the state on submitting educator evaluation plans.

For more information from CEA that includes sample language for evaluation plans for Professional Development and Evaluation Committees to consider, click here.

Professional Development and Evaluation Committee
Professional Development and Evaluation Committee

Professional Development and Evaluation Committee

UConn Researchers Discuss Latest SEED Study Findings

Neag researchers

UConn Neag School of Education researchers Morgaen Donaldson (at left) and Casey Cobb shared the findings from the second round of their SEED study with PEAC yesterday.

While the final verdict is still out, it appears Connecticut educators are getting some value from the state’s System for Educator Evaluation and Development (SEED). That’s what UConn Neag School of Education researchers found in the second phase of their study of the state’s new educator evaluation system, which they shared with the Performance Evaluation Advisory Council (PEAC) yesterday.

The researchers’ presentation is here. Read more about the PEAC meeting here.

The researchers surveyed and interviewed teachers from January to mid-April in 27 schools that participated in the SEED pilot.

  • 63% indicated that the time spent being observed under SEED was valuable,
  • 61% said that the goal-setting discussion with their evaluator was valuable,
  • 58% found that talking about practice with their evaluator before observations was valuable,  and
  • 70% thought that talking about practice with their evaluator after observations was valuable.

Fifty-six percent of the educators agreed or strongly agreed that they understood and felt comfortable with SEED procedures — a big improvement over researchers’ findings in the first round of their study last fall.

“When SEED was implemented well — by that we mean it was implemented with fidelity to the model — there were some positive results,” said UConn Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership Morgaen Donaldson. “But at the same time, we found that the predominate theme was a focus on compliance rather than really getting the most out of SEED to improve practice.”

Educators’ comments about mid-year check-ins indicated they often had a technical and procedural focus rather than being used as an opportunity to sit down and re-evaluate goals and make changes as necessary, according to Donaldson. She said that most often check-ins didn’t result in revised Student Learning Objectives (SLOs) and that some teachers reported not knowing that they could adjust their SLOs if that was warranted.

Donaldson said that most observation debriefs occurred relatively late after the observation and were somewhat perfunctory. “Some conversations were not really conversations,” she said. “They were more an email exchange or just a My Learning Plan [the evaluation data management system used during the pilot] exchange. Almost no teachers said they received specific recommendations or professional growth opportunities during debriefs.”

The administrators surveyed indicated they thought SEED has potential, but that scheduling and completing observations is challenging, and reporting requirements are cumbersome.

The researchers’ recommendations to PEAC after the second phase of the study are as follows:

  • Offer professional development to administrators and teachers specific to each phase of implementation
  • Bolster professional development focused on coaching aspects of SEED (i.e. mid-year check-ins, debriefs, feedback)
  • Publicize and promote the complementary observer role
  • Streamline paperwork/reporting requirements
  • Better align administrator and teacher evaluation

“I think this reemphasizes what we’ve heard before about the necessity of flexibility as we move forward,” CEA Executive Director Mark Waxenberg told the UConn researchers. “I think your final recommendations will reinforce the essential need for change, whether it be within the guidelines or within SEED. When we have the opportunity to make those changes next year, I think it will lessen anxiety and move us from the concentration on implementation that you mentioned to more focus on learning in the classroom.”

The UConn researchers released findings from the first phase of their study in February. They have just finished the third round of data collection and plan to schedule another meeting to share this data with PEAC before the release of the final report. The final report must be submitted to the State Board of Education by January 1, 2014.

Pilot Evaluation Districts Share Experiences with Colleagues

Litchfield Education Association President Lynn Rice tells a statewide advisory council about her district's experience implementing the state evaluation pilot.

Litchfield Education Association President Lynn Rice told colleagues on two statewide advisory councils about her district’s experience piloting the state’s new evaluation system. To the right are Litchfield High School Principal Kristen Della Volpe and Wamogo Regional High School Principal William Egan.

“It’s extremely helpful to hear from the pilot districts as we all plan for implementing the new evaluation guidelines next year,” said Shelton High School Principal Beth Smith. The sentiment was shared by the other members of the Connecticut Advisory Councils for Administrator and Teacher Professional Standards who gathered recently for a joint meeting.

The advisory council members heard from their colleagues in Bridgeport, Litchfield, Region 6, and Waterford about their experiences piloting the System for Educator Evaluation and Development (SEED) so far this year. The districts have had some very different experiences implementing SEED, but there were a number of commonalities.

Wamogo Regional High School Principal William Egan acknowledged his Region 6 district is quite small and has different challenges than many districts in the state, but said that the new evaluation system has “changed the way we see teaching in our building. It’s much more student centered.”

“The sheer number of observations is the most problematic part,” he continued.

Time constraints

Litchfield High School Principal Kristen Della Volpe agreed. “Time is the issue — it’s been arduous,” she said. “But on the other hand, teachers in our building definitely feel more valued. I’ve had teachers tell me it helps them to really focus.”

Lynn Rice, president of the Litchfield Education Association and a Litchfield High English teacher, said she was not a fan of the new evaluation system at the beginning of the year. However, she now finds she is “becoming an even better teacher given what my student learning objectives are.”

Rice says that a district’s success with implementing the evaluation plan depends largely on where they’re starting from. In Litchfield, the district’s previous evaluation system shared similarities with SEED. “We’ve been doing SMART goals and using the Danielson Framework for Educator Evaluation for a number of years, so it was natural for us to move in this direction.”

She continued, “People say, ‘Oh, you’re rural,’ but we only have two administrators and no department chairs — so two administrators times six observations times 50+ teachers… It is different for urbans, rurals, and suburbans, but there are some challenges we all share. There are too many observations.”

Ann Langley told the councils her district's status as an

Ann Langley, Bridgeport’s evaluation mediator and TEAM coordinator, told the councils about Bridgeport’s experience implementing SEED. To the left is Bridgeport Education Association President Gary Peluchette.

Della Volpe said that she evaluates 26 teachers and “I would love to have that be my only job, but I also have to be a building leader.”

Ann Langley, Bridgeport’s evaluation mediator and TEAM coordinator said, “The professional dialogue between teachers and administrators is so important, but it’s so time-consuming. Urban administrators don’t have that time. They need to run their schools and they have so many fires to put out.”

Bristol elementary principal Rosie O’Brien Vojtek asked, “What is really realistic? I’m responsible for 400 kids and 30 teachers. Thirty teachers times six observations is 180.  We have 181 days in our school year, so I’ll have one day to do everything else.”

She continued, “I’m thinking about what else I could do. I’m not ready to retire, but I’m one person and I can’t do it all.”

Paperwork overload

The amount of paperwork required by the evaluation plan has also been an issue for the pilot districts.

Egan said, “There’s certainly a problem with the forms, a ton of forms are required. We’re probably are going to look at a different data management system for next year.”

Langley said, “Principals have three-ring binders for every teacher. It’s just too much.”

Waterford Federation of Teachers President Martha Shoemaker said that she has 25 pages of just her own evaluation forms, her administrator has another 25-30 pages on her, and she has only had one formal and one informal observation so far this year.

Shoemaker said that she asked her administrator one day, “Are you building a new room? Where are you going to file all of the forms when they come in in June?” She added, “It’s got to be simplified in some way to get results with less stress. The forms should be saved on a nice hard drive somewhere.”

East Hartford Education Association President Karen O’Connell said that a teacher from Windsor, which is a pilot district, presented to East Hartford teachers recently and said that they are spending more time on forms than on preparing for instruction. “That disturbs me greatly,” O’Connell said, “because the instruction is what really matters.”

Rice said that teachers in her local found a lot of time was taken up by filling out forms during the goal setting process. “But now that our goals are in place, the goals are about student achievement and that is what planning is about,” she said. “Has it consumed people in a way? Yes. In a bad way? The jury’s still out on that. Next year is going to be the year to see if this is really going to work.”

Selecting a model

Most districts that participated in the evaluation pilot chose to use the SEED model this year. It requires six observations, three formal and three informal for all teachers.

The state guidelines, which districts can use to develop their own model, require at least three formal observations for first and second year teachers as well as for those rated developing or below standard in a previous year. The guidelines require one formal observation plus at least two more other observations/reviews of practice for teachers previously rated proficient or exemplary.

CEA Policy Director Linette Branham said that while districts can develop hybrid plans, the need for flexibility in the guidelines must be addressed for implementation to be successful. “We need to commit to taking the time to get this right, rather than throwing out the baby with the bath water,” she said.

The pilot districts that attended the recent advisory council meeting all said that they are planning to modify their evaluation plans for next year and will not continue to use the SEED model exactly as written.

Quinnipiac Associate Professor of Education Gary Alger cautioned, “Even if an administrator can spend six hours in a teacher’s classroom, they’re witnessing less than one percent of what that teacher does — especially when you consider that some of a teacher’s most important work is evaluating student work and planning lessons.”

Alger said that for this model to work, districts would need one evaluator for every four teachers.

State Education Officials Announce Flexibility in Teacher Evaluation Implementation

CEA President Sheila Cohen and Executive Director Mark Waxenberg prepare for a meeting of the state's PEAC yesterday.

CEA President Sheila Cohen and Executive Director Mark Waxenberg prepare for a meeting of the state Performance Evaluation Advisory Council (PEAC) Monday. PEAC action would provide flexibility in implementing teacher evaluation guidelines for the 2013-14 school year.

The state process involving school districts developing new teacher evaluation plans is more fluid than it originally appeared, based on extensive discussion on Monday, February 4, among State Department of Education officials, union leaders, school superintendents, principals, and other stakeholders.

The discussion took place at the state Performance Evaluation Advisory Council (PEAC), which reconvened on February 4 after a seven-month hiatus. CEA President Sheila Cohen characterized the PEAC discussion and consensus action as major steps “to give teachers a meaningful voice in developing local evaluation systems.” CEA has been unequivocal in its insistence that teachers embrace accountability when everyone has a role.

At its February 6 meeting, the State Board of Education responded to the PEAC consensus action adopting the following approach for statewide rollout of the educator evaluation and support system in the 2013-2014 school year:

1. The existing and continuing assumption is inclusion of the whole model (i.e. all Teacher and Administrator Evaluation Components as defined in the Connecticut Guidelines for Educator Evaluation), and full implementation, district-wide in every district.

2. A preferred alternative* approach is whole model, at least one-third of schools, and all certified staff within those schools.

3. Additional alternatives* are possible. For example, whole model and classroom teachers and administrators within 50 percent of schools.

* If a district decides on submitting an alternative approach, the district must conduct a “committee process,” which shall include representatives of local bargaining unit(s) and superintendent representatives. Any alternative must involve whole model and represent a minimum of one-third of the district’s certified staff, including administrators.

4. At the end of the “committee process,” if the committee does not arrive at a recommendation regarding an alternative model, the district may seek consultation from the CSDE to assist in reaching an agreement. If a conclusion is not reached at that point, the superintendent may submit a plan to the local board of education for recommendation to the CSDE so long as documentation is provided to the CSDE, offering evidence of the committee process undertaken. The CSDE will then consider the plan for approval.

5. Superintendents, on behalf of their board of education, must indicate their decision regarding approach to implementation (existing assumption or alternative) by the April 15, 2013, proposal deadline for review and approval by the CSDE.

Cohen said, “We think there’s a real opportunity for districts that have already submitted a draft plan to the SDE to continue revising it with the direct involvement of teachers before the April 15 deadline.”

According to Sarah Barzee, the interim Chief Talent Officer at the SDE, there is not a single evaluation model that districts must follow since that would discourage innovation. Observation models that districts elect to use must be linked to the Connecticut Common Core of Teaching (CCT) and have a research base. For example, she said the selection of an observation protocol is one area in which districts have flexibility.

UConn interim report gets airing before PEAC

A Neag School of Education interim report of a study of the statewide pilot of new teacher evaluation guidelines has found significant challenges that state education officials pledge to fix.According to Neag Researcher Morgaen Donaldson

UConn Neag School of Education researcher Morgaen Donaldson presented PEAC with five recommendations based on an interim report of a study of the statewide pilot of new teacher evaluation guidelines.

A Neag School of Education interim report of a study of the statewide pilot of new teacher evaluation guidelines has found significant challenges that state education officials pledge to fix.

According to Neag Researcher Morgaen Donaldson, there’s been less training for teachers than for administrators about what is expected of them in areas such as identifying Student Learning Objectives (SLOs) and addressing what makes these SLOs sufficient. Donaldson added that the situation has led to “classroom teachers in the pilot schools coming to very different understandings of what is expected of them” under the new state evaluation guidelines—a system scheduled to be mandated for all educators next year.

For details on the Neag interim recommendations visit

Post updated February 6, 2013.

PEAC to Reconvene Monday

The Performance Evaluation Advisory Council (PEAC) that met last year to develop state guidelines for educator evaluation will meet again Monday for the first time since PEAC members approved the guidelines in June.

A limited number of districts around the state have been piloting the System for Educator Evaluation and Development (SEED) this year and some have faced difficulties. The CT Mirror reported earlier this month that Bethany first selectwoman Derrylyn Gorski told legislative leaders the new evaluation system “is adding 43 workdays to administrators who are already very busy… This is such a burden to the small towns.”

Parents and teachers in Madison have also raised concerns about the new system they are required to implement in the coming academic year.

The Council will meet at 3pm Monday at the State Office Building.

Legislative Action Collides With Advisory Group Intent

In response to legislative language established last night CEA Executive Director Mary Loftus Levine (center) tells PEAC members there is a significant difference between orienting and training. At right is CEA Policy Director Linette Branham.

CEA is deeply concerned that state lawmakers have diluted this year’s education reform package by establishing legislative language requiring that teachers only have orientation regarding new evaluation models while administrators will be better prepared with full-blown training.

State lawmakers took action last night during a Legislative Special Session to pass implementer language necessary to enact Connecticut’s new education reform.

Today’s meeting of the Performance Evaluation Advisory Council (PEAC) provided an opportunity for CEA to emphasize teachers’ concern.  CEA Executive Director Mary Loftus Levine worries about how local districts would neglect teachers’ capacity to be on equal footing with administrators given last night’s legislative change.

“I think there is a significant difference between orienting someone and training someone to be prepared for a new evaluation system,” she said.

PEAC is developing model evaluation guidelines that will be presented to the State Board of Education on June 27 for a vote.  Next year the guidelines will be piloted in 16 districts affecting 5,000 teachers.  Loftus Levine says last night’s legislative change may have implications for pilot districts as well as other teachers in school districts across Connecticut.

Loftus Levine said, “The dangers we are concerned about were not recognized by others in positions of authority. As of July 1, the new education reform bill will be the law of the land. We could have local districts not provide training to teachers relative to evaluation processes under the guise of last night’s implementer law. Policymakers must rein things in.”

At today’s PEAC meeting, Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor and state Interim Talent Officer Diane Ullman reacted assuring Loftus Levine that they intend to pursue training for both teachers and administrators in the pilot districts next fall.

Ullman said the State Department of Education is moving forward on parallel tracks for both teachers and administrators.  “I am going to interpret it as training for both,” she said.