HARTFORD— Governor Dannel P. Malloy, joined by Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman and State Department of Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor, announced Wednesday, July 10, the intention to seek the US Department of Education’s authorization to provide Connecticut school districts with new flexibility on statewide standardized tests.
The request covers two primary areas. First, offering districts the option to administer the Common Core-aligned Smarter Balanced assessment rather than Connecticut’s legacy assessments, the Connecticut Mastery Test [CMT] and Connecticut Academic Performance Test (CAPT), in this coming school year. Second, offering districts the option not to use state test data in educator evaluations for the 2013-14 school year.
“We are entering a new era in public education, one where we help struggling schools improve to the benefit of every child that attends them,” said Governor Malloy. “The change we are announcing today is simply a matter of fairness. We ask so much from our hardworking teachers. Providing a level of flexibility to districts will give them the chance to adapt to the many changes that are coming without backing away from the reforms we fought so hard to achieve. I want to thank all of the members of [Performance Evaluation Advisory Council (PEAC)] for their continued dedication to improving our public schools.”
The announcement was made at a meeting of PEAC, which included representatives from Connecticut teachers’ unions and from educator stakeholder associations.
“Local choice means a smoother transition to the Common Core for Connecticut teachers and administrators,” said Lt. Governor Wyman. “These are the people on the front lines of education reform, and we are counting on their support and feedback. We have the same goals—a stronger learning environment and more support and resources for our students and schools. Everyone wants to see the next generation in Connecticut thrive, and everyone plays a role in making that happen.”
The recommendations made by PEAC will next go to the State Board of Education for consideration. The State Board is set to meet on Monday, July 15.
“In the upcoming school year, as districts begin transitioning to new student assessments aligned to the Common Core State Standards, they will be in need of new flexibility in the way they implement their educator evaluation system.” said Commissioner Pryor. “Allowing districts this flexibility will enable us to support teachers as they shift their instruction and prepare their students for the Common Core. We’re pleased that providing such flexibility will not require changes to the rollout schedule for the evaluation system, which will remain on track and on timeline.”
A group that consists of major education associations and other stakeholders, PEAC developed the framework for the educator evaluation and support system throughout Connecticut.
“Never before have teachers been confronted with so much change all at once. While our front-line educators have stepped up to the challenge, we have consistently cautioned that Connecticut must get reform done right. In that spirit, we have collaborated with top state officials and are pleased with today’s announcement,” said President of Connecticut Education Association (CEA) Sheila Cohen. “Our goal has been—and will continue to be—to advocate for the policies, resources, and support students and teachers need to meet world-class standards.”
“This announcement acknowledges that implementing Common Core standards requires resources, aligned curriculum, time, and professional development to support great instruction to help all students succeed," said Melodie Peters, President of AFT Connecticut.
“I am very pleased that the governor recognizes the need to avoid double testing of children and to allow flexibility when it comes to the initial years of teacher evaluation. I commend him for his willingness to support efforts to obtain permission from the U.S. Department of Education to obtain that flexibility,” said Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents (CAPSS) Executive Director Joseph J. Cirasuolo.
Patrice McCarthy, Connecticut Association of Boards of Education (CABE) deputy director and general counsel, said, “CABE is very pleased to ensure the successful implementation of educator evaluation and support systems, and that there will be additional flexibility extended at the local level.”
Karissa L. Niehoff, Connecticut Association of Schools (CAS) executive director, said, “This announcement supports the needs of educators and students alike. Successful implementation of the CCSS, which will be evidenced by instructional practice and student achievement, requires professional development and the alignment of curriculum and instruction; it requires time and thorough preparation.”
Both Governor Malloy and Commissioner Pryor have engaged the U.S. Department of Education regarding these testing and evaluation issues. Partly in response to this engagement, and in conjunction with advocacy from other states and organizations, Secretary Duncan issued a letter to states offering them the option to apply for flexibility that would allow districts the choice to administer either one of these tests and not both.
PEAC membership consists of the Commissioner of Education and representatives from the Connecticut Education Association (CEA), American Federation of Teachers-Connecticut (AFT-CT), Connecticut Association of Boards of Education (CABE), Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents (CAPSS), Connecticut Association of Schools (CAS), Connecticut Federation of School Administrators (CFSA), regional educational service centers (RESCs), and other educational practitioners.