SBAC Scores Released

Friday afternoon is known to media relations experts as a day to release bad information to the press, since TV news viewing and newspaper circulation are low on Saturday. Knowing this, the SDE released SBAC scores this afternoon.

Here is a press release from the SDE  2015 Smarter Balanced briefing document

Here is a 258 page document with all the results. CT Smarter Balanced Results 2014-15 First Analysis

The Hartford Courant has a great interactive feature allowing users to compare scores among districts, as well as an article

AFT CT has a press release here.

CEA also has a great one.

WFSB has story.

Diane Ravitch also posted comments on her blog.


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Posted by on August 28, 2015 in Uncategorized


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The First of 4 BFT Happy Hours Set for September 18!

Because we know you need it, the first BFT Happy Hour will be at Nuchies starting at 2:30 PM. Share your own “vision of success” while enjoying the company of friends, great food, and free drinks.

Preliminary Schedule for remaining events:

Happy Hour 2 November 6th

Happy Hour 3 March 4th

Happy Hour 4 June 3rd

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Posted by on August 25, 2015 in Uncategorized



Convocation on Monday

For those stewards and participants of the May 12 rally at the capital, please remember to wear your blue BFT shirts at Convocation on Monday, which is at BCHS starting at 8:30 AM.

Also, please be aware that the coveted AFT pocket calendars will be available on the table near the entrance to the auditorium.

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Posted by on August 22, 2015 in Uncategorized


Help Parents Opt Out of Testing

As we await the results from the Smarter Balanced Assessments, the BFT is considering joining with a national movement to encourage parents to opt their children out of next year’s round of assessments. Here are two sites worth viewing:

The United Opt Out Movement

A Facebook page specifically dedicated to Connecticut parents who want to Opt Out.

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Posted by on August 4, 2015 in Common Core/SBAC


Too Much Instructional Time Hurts Teaching: BFT Summer Reading Article #2

Note: Click on the link for the OECD report contained within the article for a massive international study comparing teacher salary, instruction time, class sizes, impact of behavior problems, and many other insights on how the U.S. education system stacks up against other nations.

Less Is More: The Value of a Teacher’s Time

This past weekend, I had the privilege of being part of a panel at the Maryland State Education Association’s Education Policy Forum with 2014 National Teacher of the Year Sean McComb, Maryland Teacher of the Year Jody Zepp, and educator-turned-influential radio host Marc Steiner. We convened in front of policymakers, superintendents, and other thought leaders. It sounded title-rific until we actually started talking about the profession we love and lead. One of the first questions we were asked was: “If you could build a school, what would it look like?” I had a few models to draw from, including Lori Nazareno’s teacher-led Math and Science Leadership Academy in Denver, or Chris Lehmann’s inquiry-and-design-driven Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia.

The Unseen Work

Yet the best investment that seemed most tangible to the policymakers right in front of me was time.

If I started a school right now, I would restructure school time nationwide. On average, teachers spent the most student-teacher face-to-face time in the world, topping 1300 hours a year. In the latest OECD report studying teacher salary (PDF, 11.8MB), the time that educators are required to spend worldwide in industrialized countries averages at less than 800 hours. Finland, the country everyone loves to study, clocks in less than 700 hours in front of students.

Seats shifted, because the talking points always fall into similar arguments:

  • Students need more time with teachers.
  • Teachers don’t spent enough time with students.
  • Teachers don’t work hard enough because they get holidays and summers off.

However, in countries that have done away with those arguments, they’ve learned that teachers do much better by having less classes, less students, and more time for the mounds of paperwork they’re obligated to grade. McComb agreed as well, stating that, if we do the math based on the number of students he has compared to the time he gets in school to grade, he has about 20 seconds per student to grade their papers and give feedback. Of course, he would have to work at home and work extra (unpaid) time to finish his grading, but it seems wholly inefficient to make teachers do work at home when they could just get the time right there in school.

More Time to Plan

Some of the effective uses of time that I’ve seen include:

  • Conversations with students about their academic progress
  • Sitting with social services to talk about students’ social-emotional development
  • Meetings with colleagues about latest pedagogical practices and standards
  • Pre- and post-observation conversations with administrators
  • Department meetings to look more closely at student work.

These points might sound basic to some, but in our current school system, we cram many of these into tighter schedules, which almost always means that we trade effectiveness in one area for effectiveness in another. We have to envision better uses of the talent within our school systems than what we currently see. I envision, for example, a teacher having two double-period classes and taking the last two periods to grade the student work with their colleagues shortly thereafter, analyzing the pieces and making their curriculum and pedagogy more connected.

With more hours to plan, teachers can more thoughtfully adapt their lessons and units to the students in front of them. They can more carefully reflect on the teacher moves they use for individuals and classes. They can have longer, more meaningful conversations with colleagues and administrators. In this case, as in many cases, less is more.

A Better System

Seat time isn’t the only lever we need to push for making education better in this country, yet based on studies that we’ve seen from different school structures, much of how we do schooling has been ingrained in our culture. Many of us in American society would love to see the reform and change but don’t want the experience of school to look much different from our own experiences with schooling. The pushback on this piece probably looks like, “I want my child to have as much exposure and learning as we can cram into school, because the more time they have with the teacher of the subject, the better.” Yet we can use time more effectively by making sure that all folks within our school system learn, not just the students.

As much as I want to believe that teachers do their best with the conditions they’re given, I’ve come to understand that teachers generally work better given better systems in which to work. More so than the foundation of respect and trust that we must engender in students, we have to create pockets of time for teachers to get together and make things happen abovethe students’ work. Many high-performing countries say that they got their best ideas from the United States. It’s only a matter of time before this country gets it right for itself as well.

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Posted by on July 31, 2015 in Uncategorized


Bristol Political Parties Settle on Council and BOE Candidates

These will be the candidates for city office come November.


Democrat Ellen Zoppo-Sassu and Republican Ken Cockayne

Bristol has three districts, each elects two members of the city council

In the 1st District, Democrats:Calvin Brown and Myra Sampson, a former councilor. Republicans: Eric Carlson and Anthony D’Amato.

In the 2nd District, Democrats: Morris “Rippy” Patton and David Preleski. Republicans: Josh Levesque and Jodi Zils Gagne.

In the 3rd District, Democrats: Mary Fortier and Bob Passamano. Republicans: David Mills and Jeremy Deprey.

Board of Education

There are nine members of the BOE, but no more than six can be from the same party. Hence, each party nominates six candidates.

Democrats: Chris Wilson, Karen Vibert, Tom O’Brien, Karen Hintz, Joe Grabowksi and Tina Taylor.

Republicans: Larry Amara, Genard Dolan, Jennifer Dube, Jeffrey Morgan, David Scott and Jeff Caggiano

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Posted by on July 28, 2015 in Uncategorized


NCLB Close to Being Fixed!

AFT Members,

Thank you for your tireless advocacy over the past several months. As a result, I have exciting news to share.

Last week, the Senate, by an overwhelming bipartisan vote (81-17), passed the Every Child Achieves Act—a bill overhauling No Child Left Behind, as the Elementary and Secondary Education Act is currently known. And earlier this month, the House of Representatives passed its version of an ESEA reauthorization bill.

While the House bill has significant problems, the House and Senate will soon meet to bridge their differences and create a single bill to send to the president. This means we are closer to getting a much-needed reset in our federal education policy than we have been in more than 14 years.

Help us by sending a thank-you to the senators who voted for this bill and urging those who voted “no” not to stand in the way of approving the reset we all need.

We couldn’t have gotten this far without your help.

Our members and activists—more than 100,000 people just like you—sent letters, made calls, held meetings with members of Congress, organized lobby days and spoke up on social media. The Every Child Achieves Act is stronger because of it.

The Senate bill protects ESEA’s original intent of providing extra support to the kids who need it most. It stops the federal secretary of education from closing schools or dictating teacher evaluations, and resets accountability by eliminating the test-and-punish policies that have narrowed curriculum but not the achievement gap.

See how your senators voted and send them a message.

Getting this result was not easy. Although the Senate bill has bipartisan support, it was a dogfight every day.

Thanks to your hard work, we were part of the discussions in a real way. Now, as the House and Senate go to conference committee, we will urge conferees to use the Senate bill as the basis of any final agreement.

This framework gives us the best chance to get a final bill for the president’s signature that includes what Americans need and want:

  • No more NCLB, Race to the Top or waivers.
  • No more mandatory teacher evaluation from the federal government.
  • No more federal school closings.
  • No more federal accountability system that applies to the whole country.
  • New authorization for full-service community schools and early childhood programs.
  • Ability for districts to study workplace conditions and supports.
  • And—while the funding levels have not increased—no school districts will lose money.

Our work is not done; we still have to get through conference and get a bill signed into law. But we are off to a great start.

Send the senators who helped make this happen a thank-you note, and remind those who voted NO that they are standing in the way of getting us the much-needed reset we have been working toward for more than a decade.

In unity,
Randi Weingarten
AFT President

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Posted by on July 25, 2015 in Uncategorized


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