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Posts tagged ‘Smarter Balanced’

New Report Conceals SBAC Problems

minority-report While many states have embraced improvement in their statewide assessment programs and have rejected invalid tests, Connecticut remains stuck in a program that is harmful to teaching and discriminatory to students.

In spite of mounting concerns about the validity and fairness of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) test—which is administered to students in grades 3-8—a divided state committee in charge of reviewing the test voted to retain SBAC and ignore concerns raised by teachers and administrators. Representatives of the Connecticut Education Association (CEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Connecticut submitted a Minority Report detailing the problems with SBAC. Read more

Mastery Examination Committee’s Draft Report Falls Short

CEA Director of Policy and Professional Practice Donald Williams.

CEA Director of Policy, Research, and Reform Donald Williams.

A 21-member group tasked with reviewing the appropriateness of Connecticut’s statewide mastery examination reviewed a draft report today prepared by the State Department of Education (SDE) outlining several findings and recommendations.

Unfortunately, the Mastery Examination Committee’s report fails to address substantial concerns raised by CEA Director of Policy, Research, and Reform Donald Williams and other committee members over the 15-month-period during which the group met.

Key objections center on Read more

Don’t Go Full Speed Ahead Into the Unknown with Common Core

CEA Executive Director Mark Waxenberg today appeared on a WNPR program that touched on education reform issues from teacher evaluation to Common Core. Photo by Chion Wolf/WNPR.

“Good teaching is not measured by a student test score. That is the road we are going down and it should be abandoned.” That was one of the many emphatic comments CEA Executive Director Mark Waxenberg made this morning while appearing on WNPR’s “Where We Live” radio program.

Waxenberg called for a “course correct” when it comes to Common Core. “We need an examination of the appropriateness of the standards,” he said. Read more

Common Core Forum for Parents, Students, Teachers, and Community Members

Common Core Community ForumBuild relationships with parents, students, and community members and establish a shared understanding of the Common Core at a forum Saturday, Jan. 25, at Cromwell High School. Read more

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

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

Watch Pryor’s comments on the federal waiver below.