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AFT CT Annual Convention on May 16

The 68th AFT Connecticut Annual Business Convention will convene on Saturday, May 16 promptly at 9:00 AM. Registration will open at 7:30AM followed by a buffet breakfast at 8:00AM. Agenda included below. BFT’s members interested in being delegates should contact David Hayes by April 24, 2015.

Tentative Agenda:

7:30am — Registration Opens

8:00am — Breakfast Buffet

9:00am — Business Session Begins

Welcome & Greetings

Call to Order

Credentials Committee Report

Adoption of Rules for Debate

Minutes of 67th Convention

Community Engagement Presentation

President’s Report

Legislative Update

Constitutional Amendments Resolutions

11:00am —Jurisdictional Caucus Meetings

11:30am —Credentials Committee Report Elections

12:00pm —Luncheon (Awards) COPE Silent Auction

2:00pm — Business Session Resumes (if necessary)

 
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Posted by on April 10, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

NCLB Revision – A Light at the End of the Tunnel?

Senate Plan to Revise No Child Left Behind Law Would Not Measure Teachers by Test Scores

The bill retains the requirement for yearly tests in math and reading for every student in third through eighth grade, and once in high school, and requires that the scores, broken down by race and income, be made public.

But it ends the framework under which almost all public schools were found to be failing, and could defuse what has become an all-out campaign by teachers, joined by many parents, to prevent having their job performances measured by students’ test scores.

The proposed legislation was negotiated by Senators Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee, and Patty Murray, Democrat of Washington. Earlier this year, a House bill was abruptly pulled, mid-debate, when it became clear that it would not muster enough Republican support to pass.

The Senate proposal requires that states adopt “challenging” academic standards in reading, math and science that would enable students to fulfill state vocational guidelines or to enter public universities in the state without having to take remedial classes. But the bill specifically deprives the secretary of education of the power to approve these standards.

Opposition to standardized testing has boiled over in recent years as the Obama administration used financial incentives and relief from the most onerous provisions of the No Child Left Behind law to require that states tether teachers’ job performance ratings to student test scores. The new Senate bill makes clear that states are not required to formally evaluate teachers or to use test scores if they do.

Also, under the proposal, the federal government would no longer prescribe how the states must handle schools with continuously poor scores.

“This is a big deal,” said Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers. “It goes back to the original intent of the law, to level the playing field for at-risk kids.”

She added, “The decreased emphasis on testing and the stakes that go along with it will help create some oxygen, so the attention is on instruction and the joy of learning.”

Lily Eskelsen Garcia, president of the National Education Association, the country’s largest teachers union, however, expressed disappointment that the new bill retained annual testing requirements.

“Are you going to give that third grader some relief from test and punish?” she said. “Under this proposal, they still have to take just as many tests.”

The No Child Left Behind law, passed in 2001, was the signature education achievement of the George W. Bush administration and created an elaborate set of cascading punishments for schools that failed to make “adequate yearly progress” on test scores. It expired in 2007, but Congress has repeatedly failed to reauthorize the legislation, formally known as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

At its heart, the battle over the reauthorization reflects disagreement about how large a role the federal government should play in public schools. Democrats often argue that the most vulnerable children need the protection of the federal government. Republicans make the case that education is traditionally a state function and that the federal government has overstepped its bounds in recent years.

At a time when new, widely adopted academic standards known as the Common Core have led to bruising political battles, the Senate proposal prohibits the Education Department from pushing states to adopt any specific curriculum guidelines.

Robert Schaeffer, the public education director at FairTest, a watchdog group concerned with standardized testing, said he hoped that when the bill came up for debate, the amendment process would lead to “grade span” testing, in which children would be assessed in reading, math and science once in elementary school, once in middle school and once in high school, reducing the number of required tests to nine from 17.

Throughout the long negotiations over reauthorizing the law, civil rights groups have been concerned that children from low-income families and racial minorities be given adequate resources and quality teaching.

As the House bill was being debated, the Obama administration focused on how the reauthorization would affect funding for schools with the highest concentration of needy students, which receive extra federal resources under the current law.

The House proposal would have allowed states to make that extra funding portable, so that students who moved to a more affluent school would take the money with them. The Senate proposal retains the current funding criteria.

The White House issued a statement calling the Senate proposal “an important step” but stopped short of endorsing it.

 
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Posted by on April 8, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

BFTeacher Education Article for the week of April 6, 2015.

Today the New York Times published this headline article on a city charter school network, detailing harsh discipline tactics, absurdly high teacher turnover, above average student suspension rates, and a single-minded focus on test results. Bristol teachers are encouraged to read this and share with family or friends who believe charter schools are the best way toward meaningful education reform.

 
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Posted by on April 6, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Mystic Seaport – Free Weekend for Educators April 18-19

Educators’ Weekend at Mystic Seaport April 18-19 2015

The 13th annual Educators’ Weekend at Mystic Seaport is April 18-19, 2015.  The weekend features free admission for teachers, administrators, afterschool professionals, and their families (up to four people total with ID).  Learn more about our new website for teachers, primary source workshops, overnight programs, field trips, virtual programs, Planetarium programs, and much more.  Educators and their families will be able to participate in fun hands-on activities, including whaleboat rowing, toy boat building, and harpoon throwing.  Registration forms here: http://www.mysticseaport.org/wp-content/uploads/Educators-Weekend-Registration-Form-2015.pdf.  Download the form, fill it out, and either fax it to 860-572-5355 or bring it with you.

 
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Posted by on April 5, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Union Rally In Hartford on April 15

Fight for $15 and a Union

April15@ 4:15pm

A NATIONAL DAY OF ACTION FOR DIGNITY, RESPECT, AND BETTER WAGES!

http://www.April15.org

Contact:860-251-6083

Fight15CT@gmail.com

Meeting Location: Bushnell Park Workers Memorial (near the intersection of Trinity and Elm)

March and Rally at the State Capitol

 
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Posted by on March 30, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Reading Survey

BFT Members,

It is the position of the AFT CT and CEA, that teachers should NOT take this survey on their own time. This position was arrived at after extensive discussion with the SDE. Therefore, the BFT asks Bristol teachers to NOT take the survey until the district provides time. This time could be made by providing sub coverage (as is being done in some districts, such as Hartford and Ansonia) or using PD time (which many districts are doing, such as Middletown). There is also a second window to take the survey in the fall, which allows districts to utilize PD time just before the start of the school year (which is the plan for Meriden).

This survey is the result of legislation passed two years and teachers understand this was not a district initiative. But our time is valuable, and the district has the time and resources to implement the survey without it becoming a burden on teachers.

In Solidarity,

Dave Hayes

BFT President

 

A memo from the SDE detailing the requirements can be found here.

The following are some questions and answers that have come up about the reading survey for K-3 teachers. Information can also be accessed by going to the SDE Foundations of Reading Survey page: http://www.sde.ct.gov/sde/cwp/view.asp?a=2613&pm=1&Q=335450.

Why is the survey required?

Section 13 of Public Act 13-245 requires that commencing in the 2014-15 school year, and biennially thereafter, any teacher during the 2014-15 school year who holds an Elementary Education, or an Integrated Early Childhood N-3 certificate AND who is teaching in Grades K, 1, 2, and/or 3 under that certificate will be required to complete the survey.

How is the survey to be administered?

A district may choose to give the survey in a group setting, or to teachers individually – it’s a schedule and roll-out issue for districts. Groups can be large or small, staggered or participating at the same time. The survey system can accommodate thousands of teachers at the same time. Districts can be flexible about offering the survey in the winter or spring. However they choose to administer the survey, there must be no ‘cost’ to the teacher, which means it must be taken during the school day, or the teacher must somehow be compensated for the time required for completion, and the survey must be administered on school grounds.

What is a “controlled setting”? Does this mean teachers can be in their own classrooms?

It’s a decision the district has to make; the controlled setting refers to a school setting rather than a teacher’s home.

Who should be taking the survey?

Any teacher holding a certificate endorsed in one of the following areas and serving in a position requiring such an endorsement and teaching in Grades Kindergarten, 1, 2 or 3 must complete the survey during the 2014-15 school year: • Integrated ECE/Sped. Nursery–K and Elementary 1-3 (#113) • Elementary education (#001, 002, 003, 004, 005, 008, 013, or 305) • Bilingual elementary education (#009, 902) Any teacher who took and passed the Foundations of Reading Test will be exempt from taking the survey this year. Teachers who hold more than one certification endorsement in addition to the above but are not serving under the above endorsements will not be required to complete the survey. District liaisons will receive from the Connecticut Department of Education a list of teachers who are required to complete the survey based on holding the above certification endorsements and serving in an elementary K-3 teaching assignment and grade. If districts have questions about which teachers should be taking the survey, they can call Georgette or the hotline, or email the dedicated reading survey address.Those identified as having to take the survey are those who are assigned to an affected area THIS school year.

Are there any preparation materials specific to the survey?

There are no practice materials specific to the survey; only specific to the test. The multiple choice items will help prepare teachers for the survey. There are 85 items on the survey, 100 on the FoR Test. Questions are randomized in the survey.

How do I access the survey?

You must have an authorization code given to your by your district reading survey coordinator, who receives it from the SDE. Your code will be unique to you.

What if my name isn’t properly listed on the district reading survey coordinator’s list (due to a name change)? Will that affect my being able to take the survey?

Teacher names are going to be listed as whatever’s listed in the certification file. If a teacher wants to change his/her name in the system, s/he has to contact the SDE. However, a different name won’t affect the district’s ability to give you an authorization code, and for you to take the survey.

Does the survey need to be completed in one sitting?

Yes, the survey has to be completed in one sitting, but does not have to take the allotted 180 minutes. If, for some reason, you are unable to continue working and complete the survey during this sitting, you would have to obtain another authorization code from the district coordinator and begin the survey again from the start.

When can the survey be administered?

Survey can be administered during PD days, faculty meetings, or by providing a sub and teacher release time. This is a local decision.

Can teachers take these surveys on tablets?

The survey is not really recommended for a tablet–more for a PC running windows current version. A PROCTOR MANUAL with detailed information about the survey administration is posted on the SDE website (at the link above).

Does the survey need to have proctors?

Proctoring of the survey is a district decision. If there’s a large group, maybe there would be a proctor, but it’s the SCHOOL OR DISTRICT’s choice. Literacy Coaches may be assigned as proctors—district decision—but anyone serving as proctor should have a background in IT (and the local education association might want to negotiate a stipend).

When are results received?

Results are provided to the teacher upon completion of the survey, and results are put into the teacher’s account and the teacher can access the results report at any time. Each teacher is given a code, and each code is unique to one teacher; codes cannot be shared.

Are results of the survey subject to the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) or can they be used in summative evaluations?

Results are not subject to FOI, not to be included in summative ratings of evaluations, and not to impact certification. Results are meant to be used to determine PD needs—the district liaison will receive the survey results aggregated on the district, school, and grade level.

How are the survey results reported?

Results are reported to each teacher with the number and % of items correct in each of the 3 sub-areas of the survey. The State Department of Education (SDE) gets the individual data for teachers for the purpose of creating aggregate data for the school and the district and to keep “attendance” of who took the survey. The local district only gets aggregate data for the grade, the school, and the district.

How is the need for PD determined, based on the survey results?

Since this is survey, not a test, there is no set ‘threshold score’ for determining whether or not a teacher needs to strengthen knowledge or skills in any particular area of the survey. The criteria for the decisions regarding PD will be made at the local level; the following questions need to be discussed and used to guide those decisions: 1. Will we determine a threshold percentage of items correct in any particular area that we’ll use as guidance for determining whether or not a teacher needs PD? If so, who will make that decision? 2. What else will be used, if anything, in deciding if a teacher needs PD in reading? 3. How can the anonymity of the teacher be maintained? 4. What options will teachers have for deciding who will work with them to determine PD needs? How can we assure those are colleagues with whom teachers have a trusting relationship? 5. How can we offer PD options for teachers that keep the process simple and, whenever possible, part of the district’s PD plan? 6. How many teachers are in each of our school buildings that need PD in any given area? 7. How can we assure that no one person is overburdened with planning PD for teachers? 8. How can we assure that the processes we use recognize the professionalism of teachers?

What are the consequences for teachers who refuse to take the survey?

Currently there are NO SPECIFIC CONSEQUENCES FOR TEACHERS NOT TAKING THE SURVEY; however, there is the question of whether refusal to take the survey is tantamount to not fulfilling a professional responsibility (and professional responsibility is included in the CT Common Core of Teaching). A LIST OF THOSE TEACHERS NOT TAKING THE SURVEY WILL BE PROVIDED TO DISTRICTS. THE SDE WILL LOOK INTO WHETHER A DECISION IS NEEDED ABOUT WHAT TO DO WITH THOSE NOT TAKING THE SURVEY. CEA believes this is a local district area to determine.

Who can see who has taken the survey?

The SDE can track the teachers who have taken the survey. Districts will not have a way to track during the survey window. At districts’ requests, the SDE will be able to provide a list before the end of the survey window of who has completed the survey.

 
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Posted by on March 17, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

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Enhancing Educational Leadership

On March 18 the CT Teacher of the Year Council will hold its annual Empowered to Lead Symposium at the Crowne Plaza in Cromwell. The Council has teamed up with the State Education Resource Center (SERC) to offer a one-day event for Connecticut educators. The theme of this year’s symposium is Grow the Profession: Cultivating Collective Capacity, which is designed to provide an opportunity for teachers of the year, teacher-leaders, administrators, and other educators to engage in articulating and enhancing the power of educational leadership in our schools, districts, state, and nation. A symposium overview, schedule and session overview can be found a here.

 
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Posted by on March 11, 2015 in Uncategorized

 
 
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