Some education reforms to be phased-in

With the support of the administration, the House of Representatives voted unanimously Tuesday to give final passage to a bill that allows school districts to move a little slower in implementing two elements of the 2012 education reforms pushed by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.

The bill gives districts the flexibility to roll out the new teacher evaluation process over two years instead of one. The bill also delayed programs to address the high rate of elementary students struggling to read. 

Calling the changes realistic, several state representatives said the changes were necessary to ensure a steady roll-out of the omnibus education reform bill that lawmakers celebrated passing last year.

“To be clear, we are serious about making sure that every district has fully phased in the new teacher evaluation plan within the next two years,” said Rep. Andy Fleischmann, D-West Hartford, the co-chairman of the Education Committee.

“We are not backing up at all,” said Rep. Tim Ackert of Coventry, the ranking Republican on the committee.

The bill was drawn with the consent of administration, the co-chairs of the Education Committee and the Democratic caucus. It postpones implementing regular reading assessments for students in kindergarten through the third grade, the creation of an intensive reading program, and the expansion of an existing pilot program to address reading deficiencies.

The new law also would have stripped a teacher’s ability to teach if he or she failed an assessment of reading instruction methods. The bill still requires teachers to be assessed biennally, but teachers do not risk losing their certification if they fail them.