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Linking Student Scores to Teacher Evaluations — May 3, 2016

Linking Student Scores to Teacher Evaluations

As teachers in Connecticut continue to proctor SBAC tests, here are a few articles on the subject of testing and teacher evaluations.

Here is a New York Times article on how  how socioeconomic status plays a dominate role in achievement.

Opinion essay  from the New Haven Register advocating against linking student scores to teacher evaluations.

Education week article highlighting how students with disabilities score relatively poorly compared to regular education students.

CT Mirror article on possibility of teacher evaluations becoming public information in aggregate form.

The Atlantic also has an article on why teachers might feel compelled to inflate scores on tests.


S.B. 380 Makes it Out of Committee! — March 19, 2016

S.B. 380 Makes it Out of Committee!

Yesterday the Education Committee of the CT legislature voted in favor of Senate Bill 380, which de-couples SBAC scores from TEVAL. The bill can now go before the full legislature for a vote, which can occur anytime before the session closes on May 4.

You can follow progress of the bill here

You can view the names of legislators who voted for and against the bill here.

Ask Legislators to Decouple SBAC Scores from TEVAL — March 11, 2016

Ask Legislators to Decouple SBAC Scores from TEVAL

One of AFT Connecticut’s top legislative priorities this session is to decouple student scores on state mastery examinations (SBAC and SAT) from teacher evaluations.  The Education Committee has raised and held a public hearing on a bill we fully support: 

SB 380 An Act Concerning the Exclusion of Student Performance Results on the Mastery Examination from Teacher Evaluations (see link below)

An article in the Hartford Courant on this issue can be found here.

 In order to ensure we have enough votes to JF (pass) this bill out of the Education Committee next week, please contact your legislators today and ask them to co-sponsor SB 380

Use the link at the top of this BFT web page to find your legislators.

Some talking points are below:

 It’s important that teacher evaluations not be based on student test scores.  High quality instruction should arm students with the breadth and depth of knowledge they need to be truly well-educated individuals and develop their capacity to problem-solve, think critically and approach challenges with ingenuity.   Yet, almost one-quarter of current teacher evaluation systems are based on student standardized test scores, which quells instructional creativity, innovation and collaboration.  Much research demonstrates that the value of high stakes standardized testing is limited in its ability to inform instruction and provide a complete picture of student achievement. Standardized tests also do not account for social, emotional and economic factors that may impact a student’s ability to reach his or her greatest potential.

 The federal Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) presents new opportunities for instructional shifts in the classroom. It dispenses responsibility for developing teacher accountability systems to the states and permits the use of student achievement indicators other than standardized test scores; such coursework, school or district developed tests and other diagnostic assessments.  SB 380 takes full advantage of the groundwork laid by ESSA.  It appropriately excludes the use of student scores on statewide mastery examinations in teacher evaluations.  It places instructional emphasis on deep issue knowledge and analytical skills, rather test preparation. 

Help Parents Opt Out of Testing — August 4, 2015

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.

Malloy Announces Plan To Assist With Common Core — June 26, 2014

Malloy Announces Plan To Assist With Common Core

Malloy Announces Plan To Assist With Common Core


The Hartford Courant

6:27 PM EDT, June 26, 2014

Calling it the “Connecticut Core Initiative,” Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced plans Thursday to follow recommendations made by a task force to help implement the new academic standards known as the Common Core State Standards.

“Figuring out the best way to move forward is what the challenge has been,” Malloy said at a news conference at Annie Fisher STEM Magnet School. He said the task force has give us “great advice about how to proceed.”

“This is not an end point, this is just more response in the continuum of discussion, ongoing dialogue to make sure that we’re getting it right and bringing everyone along as we do it,” Malloy said.

That has been a problem for Malloy who established the task force of educators and parents in March because of considerable opposition to the new standards and concerns that teachers had not been adequately prepared for them. In February, a state teachers union leader called the roll-out of the standards “botched” and said teachers needed more time to learn about the new standards.

But on Thursday, Mark Waxenberg, executive director of the Connecticut Education Association, and Melodie Peters, president of the American Federation of Teachers Connecticut accompanied Malloy and showed their support for the initiative.

“We look with great enthusiasm and optimism to be to be able to help implement the recommendations that the task force has put forward today,” Waxenberg said.

Peters said the new initiative to implement the Common Core is “a wonderful beginning … because it was inclusive.”

Malloy announced plans to direct $2 million in state education money to fund 1,000 professional training days for teachers and another $2 million toward professional development for teachers, concentrating on English and math.

The new funding will also be used to assist special education teachers and teachers of English as a second language.

And Malloy has asked the state Department of Education to create an advisory committee to award up to $1 million in mini-grants to get additional resources aligned with the Common Core into classrooms and the community. Teachers and parent groups will be able to apply for the grants.

Malloy is also asking the state to provide “back to school kits” to superintendents and school leaders to provide jargon-free communication with parents and the community about the new standards.

In addition, Malloy said $10 million from the capital budget will be used to upgrade school technology needed to support the transition to the new standards.

The new initiatives didn’t stop Malloy’s political opponents, however. Both Jonathan Pelto, a petitioning gubernatorial candidate, and Sen. John McKinney, a Republican candidate for governor, issued statements calling for elimination of the Common Core State Standards in Connecticut.

Copyright © 2014, The Hartford Courant

BFT Contract Survey — June 5, 2014

BFT Contract Survey

Below is the link for the survey that will be used to advise the BFT when negotiations for the next contract begin in August. The next contract will be effective July 1, 2015 to June 30 2018. All BFT members are asked to complete the survey before June 20, 2014.

What issues are important to you? Rank them in order of importance and make additional comments. The survey is designed to take 5 to 10 minutes.

Here is the link:

Summer PD Opportunities – Free from CREC and SDE — June 3, 2014
AFT Conducting CCSS Phone Survey — April 28, 2014

AFT Conducting CCSS Phone Survey

As many of you already know, AFT and CEA have done some online surveys  surrounding the implementation of the Common Core.  As a follow up, we contracted ABACUS Associates to do an additional survey of teachers via phone interview.  The survey should not take more than a few minutes to complete.  They will introduce themselves as Mountain Research.  Please know if you receive a phone call over the next few days from this company calling on behalf of AFT-CT, that they are in fact representing us. This will be an anonymous survey.Thank you for your cooperation.

 In Solidarity,

 Stephen McKeever

First Vice President

AFT Connecticut

Smarter Balanced Delayed One Week! — March 14, 2014

Smarter Balanced Delayed One Week!


One of the two state consortia developing exams aligned with the Common Core State Standards is giving itself an additional week to iron out any glitches before field-testing begins.

The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, which counts 23 states as members, had planned to begin field-testing March 18. Schools will now begin the process on March 25, according to a consortium official. (Twenty-two states and the U.S. Virgin Islands are involved in Smarter Balanced field-testing; Pennsylvania is an “advisory” state and isn’t participating.)

The delay isn’t about the test’s content, officials said: It’s about ensuring that all the important elements, including the software and accessibility features (such as read-aloud assistance for certain students with disabilities) are working together seamlessly.

“There’s a huge amount of quality checking you want to do to make sure that things go well, and that when students sit down, the test is ready for them, and if they have any special supports, that they’re loaded in and ready to go,” Jacqueline King, a spokeswoman for Smarter Balanced, said in a March 14 interview. “We’re well on our way through that, but we decided yesterday that we needed a few more days to make sure we had absolutely done all that we could before students start to take the field tests.”

Field-testing will take place through June 6. Some 3 million students in 20,000 schools are participating. Smarter Balanced expects most of the schools that would be affected by the delay to reschedule sometime during the field-test window. The group will also offer a “make-up week” from June 7-13 for schools that request it.

Most importantly, the brief delay won’t delay the next steps in development, during which researchers analyze the results of the field tests to make sure that all of the test items are working as expected and generating the appropriate information.

“It won’t have any impact on the subsequent work that we need to do,” King said.

It’s not entirely clear how many schools are affected. Some states don’t have any schools in the first week of testing.

In most states, those students participating in the field tests take them in only one subject, English/language arts or mathematics. Five states are testing nearly all their students, and some of those, like California, are giving some version of the tests in both subjects to meet the U.S. Department of Education’s “double testing” waiver requirements.

The other testing group, the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, still plans to begin field-testing March 24.

Governor Signs Executive Order – Creates “Educators’ Common Core Implementation Taskforce” — March 11, 2014

Governor Signs Executive Order – Creates “Educators’ Common Core Implementation Taskforce”

 March 11, 2014
Asks Those Directly Impacted by Common Core to Identify Challenges and Make Recommendations for Improving Implementation Efforts
(HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Dannel P. Malloy today announced that he has signed an executive order creating the Educators’ Common Core Implementation Taskforce – a group that will be comprised of teachers, parents and administrators with the goal of identifying challenges and gaps in Common Core preparation, and making recommendations on improving the quality and consistency of its implementation.
“We have an obligation to ensure that all children in the State of Connecticut receive a quality education that will provide them with the necessary tools to lead successful lives in today’s global economy,” Governor Malloy said.  “Seeking the input of the teachers and education professionals who are directly involved in the day-to-day activities of our public school system, along with parents, will help the state in our efforts to improve our schools.”
In May 2009, former Governor M. Jodi Rell and former Education Commissioner Mark McQuillan signed a memorandum of agreement committing to a state-led process to lead to the development and eventual adoption of a Common Core set of standards.  In July 2010, the State Board of Education adopted the resulting college and career-ready student expectations — the Common Core State Standards.
Since that time, the State of Connecticut has committed funds to support professional development and investments in new technology in order to help school districts prepare for its implementation.
Last November, Governor Malloy announced over $24 million in grant requests to bring more computers into classrooms and increase internet bandwidth, which will provide vital support to students, teachers, and school districts as local efforts accelerate to complete the transition to Common Core.  In the current biennial budget, Governor Malloy proposed $14.6 million for training and coaching for educators.
“Connecticut teachers and education professionals have raised legitimate concerns that preparations for the implementation of Common Core State Standards and the incorporation of Common Core State Standards into the teaching curriculum have been uneven across the state,” Governor Malloy said.  “Teachers, students, public officials, and everyone involved in the education system will benefit by having this review, identifying challenges, and highlighting best practices and lessons learned.”
Last July, Governor Malloy sought federal approval to provide Connecticut school districts with new flexibility on statewide standardized tests that would offer districts the option to administer the Common Core-aligned Smarter Balanced Assessment rather than Connecticut’s legacy assessments – the CMT and CAPT – this school year, and also offer districts the option not to use state test data in educator evaluations for the current school year.
In January, Governor Malloy, joined by Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman, Senate President Donald E. Williams, Jr., and Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey, wrote to the Performance Evaluation Advisory Council, urging the panel to enable the exclusion of state standardized test indicators in next year’s teacher evaluations; enable school districts to have flexibility in the implementation of evaluation in the current school year and future school years; and streamline the data management requirements at the classroom level.
Pursuant to the Governor’s Executive Order No. 41, the Educators’ Common Core Implementation Taskforce is being asked to consider ways to advance the translation of Common Core State Standards into curricula; consider ways to strengthen the professional development opportunities available to classroom teachers and school leaders; and identify and highlight best practices and lessons learned by teachers, schools and school districts across the state and nation.
Final recommendations are due no later than June 30, 2014, in time for the 2014-15 school year.
In formulating the membership of the taskforce, the Governor received recommendations from the American Federation of Teachers; CT Education Association; CT Association of School Administrators; CT Association of Schools; CT Association of Public School Superintendents; CT Association of Boards of Education; CT Teachers of the Year Association; the CT Parent Teacher Student Association; legislators; and self-nominations from interested educators.
Membership of the Educators’ Common Core Implementation Taskforce
  • Twelve practicing teachers or education professionals who teach in elementary, middle or high school:
    • Erin Wilson, Elementary School Teacher, Hartford, Teacher of the Year Finalist [Co-Chair]
    • Juanita Harris, Special Education Teacher, Danbury
    • Andrea Middlebrooks, Life Sciences Middle School Teacher, Cromwell
    • Ken Daly, English and Language Arts High School Teacher, Wallingford
    • Bruce Yarnell, Special Education Middle School Teacher, Stonington
    • William McKinney, High School Teacher, New Haven
    • Patti Fusco, Elementary School Teacher, West Haven
    • Susan Schmidt, Elementary School Teacher, New Britain
    • Diana Burns, Elementary School Teacher, Westbrook
    • Sue Loud, Department Head for English & Social Studies, Eli Whitney Technical High School, Hamden
    • Barbara Johnson, Librarian/Elementary School, Colchester
    • Waiting for confirmation from member
  • Four principals from either an elementary, middle or high school:
    • Dr. Anne Jellison, Principal, Meriden
    • Anthony Ditrio, Principal, Norwalk
    • Vicki Reed, K-2 Principal, Wallingford
    • Edith Johnson, High School Principal, New Haven
  • Four superintendents or district curriculum leaders:
    • Nate Quesnel, Superintendent, East Hartford [Co-Chair]
    • Paula Talty, Superintendent, Cromwell
    • Sean McKenna, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum & Instruction, Groton
    • Ivelise Velazquez, Director of Reading & Social Sciences, Windham
  • Two parents:
    • Candy Yeager, Stamford parent
    • Waiting for confirmation from member
  • Two members of local boards of education:
    • Don Harris, Chairman, Bloomfield Board of Education
    • Liz Brown, Waterbury Board of Education
  • The Chief Academic Officer of the State Department of Education:
    • Dianna Roberge-Wentzell, Chief Academic Officer, State Department of Education