Feds: Connecticut can roll out education reforms next school year

The federal government has given Connecticut until next school year to begin testing every public school student on the new standardized tests aligned with the Common Core State Standards.

The flexibility waiver granted by the U.S. Department of Education Thursday also means districts will get a pass this year on using standardized tests when evaluating teachers.

“I hope you find this flexibility helpful. I look forward to working with you and your staff as you implement this flexibility and as you continue working to improve education in Connecticut,” Deborah S. Delisle at the education department wrote Connecticut Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor.

By the 2014-15 school, the federal government still expects every student to take the Common Core tests and have them linked to teacher evaluations, as promised by Connecticut officials in its bid to rid itself of the onerous requirements of the federal No Child Left Behind Law.

The federal government also expects Connecticut to begin using the results of those evaluations to inform personnel decisions by the 2015-16 school year. However, the education department told state education leaders last fall that they can apply to push that date back until the 2016-17 school year.

After backlash from teachers over the roll out of the new evaluations and Common Core, state officials and education leaders last week agreed that even more changes will be needed to implement the reforms.

Those changes, including delaying for another year linking the evaluations with test scores, will need further federal approval.

“One thing that will come out of this is that more teachers will be working together on district improvement, and I think that that’s exciting,” Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said last week of the evaluations.