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Posted inCT Viewpoints

State board should project objectivity in teacher evaluation

Teachers make a huge difference in the learning of students. We know this intuitively as well as empirically. When teachers have helped more students make greater academic progress, they have performed their duties better than teachers who did not help their students make progress. That’s why it’s so disturbing that Connecticut is poised to take a step backwards in its measurement of teacher impact.

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The General Assembly needs facts, not falsehoods

A recent story in the CT Mirror described a presentation to reporters a few weeks ago by the Connecticut Education Association (CEA), the largest teachers’ union, in which union leaders attempted to expose the spending practices of charter schools. The problem is that the report the CEA was referencing was deliberately misleading –seeking to villainize charter schools during a tight budget year in which education funding will be a key issue.

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Innovation necessary to solve persistent certification problems

A recent story described concerns raised over the State Board of Education’s rapid approval of a new teacher training program. According to that story, members of the Minority Teacher Recruitment Task Force are frustrated with the level of information that they had received about the program prior to its approval. These concerns, I am sure, can be worked out among our branches of government. What is more important is ensuring that Connecticut continues with its efforts to solve the longstanding problem of minority teacher recruitment.

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Judge correctly identified need for systemic public education overhaul

The ink isn’t yet dry on Judge Thomas Moukawsher’s ruling in CCJEF v. Rell — originally brought in 2005 — and Connecticut must already prepare to defend its educational practices in another court –this time federal. While CCJEF contemplated the state’s constitutional obligation to adequately and rationally fund public education, Martinez v. Malloy challenges the state’s policies on magnets, charters, and open enrollment — asserting that the state is preventing students from accessing minimally acceptable public school seats. It bears remembering that these are not the first major cases to identify an unfair system of public education that is directly responsible for gaps in achievement in our state.

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State Board of Education demands action on teacher evaluation

On April 6, I attended a public meeting by the Connecticut State Board of Education (SBE), in which members of the SBE vigorously debated the merit of further delays to implementation of real teacher evaluations in Connecticut. They were discussing the Performance Evaluation Advisory Council’s (PEAC) recommendation to permit school districts to go yet another year without incorporating the results of the state mastery test as one of multiple measures in a teacher’s evaluation. I applaud the SBE for pushing back on PEAC’s recommendation and drawing a real line in the sand.

Posted inCT Viewpoints

Providing exceptional education to all students requires more accountability, not less

The release of Connecticut’s teacher evaluation results in a school-funding trial has revealed that only 1 percent of teachers were evaluated as either “below standard” or “developing.” Recently, a CT Mirror story covered a discussion among members of the Connecticut Performance Evaluation Advisory Council (PEAC) about whether and how to amend the teacher evaluation process. In that story, Connecticut unions represented that the inclusion of a state assessment in the evaluation process is unfair to teachers. But, as a former teacher, principal, and superintendent, and a father of six Connecticut children—it strikes me as somewhat obvious that, quite to the contrary, these results indicate a strong, existing bias in favor of protecting teachers from data.

Posted inCT Viewpoints

Connecticut’s students must be challenged in school

This year’s new Smarter Balanced Assessment, designed to assess student learning and measure college and career readiness, is generally accepted as “raising the bar” for our children. Because the test is harder, education experts have repeatedly stated that they anticipate scores on the new test will go down. Nonetheless, the new test—while imperfect—represents a huge step forward in the science of education and provides an opportunity for our nation to dramatically increase our achievement levels for all children.

Posted inCT Viewpoints

Test data matters for Connecticut. Education is a science

Until recent developments, we haven’t had sufficient high-quality data about public education. Is it any surprise that our education system is less than optimal? In Connecticut, we have the widest achievement gap in the nation. The Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) test is an advanced, computer-based assessment that will provide us with the opportunity to collect the most refined student achievement data we’ve ever seen.