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Dems, GOP Agree Separating Teacher Evaluations & Common Core Is Not Political

by Christine Stuart | Jan 29, 2014 2:06pm
(19) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Education, Election 2014

Christine Stuart photo

Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman

Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said his decision to give school districts the option to delay using a new teacher evaluation method with a new set of standards is a response to the complaints he’s been hearing from educators.

The governor, who has not said whether he is running for re-election, said it’s an issue he’s been working on for the past seven months.

“With respect to the politics of it, I’m really concerned that our teachers have the tools that they need to be successful in the classroom and folks are appropriately trained with respect to the Common Core,” Malloy told reporters Wednesday. “Is it political to hear people? You might categorize it as that. But the reality is that’s the appropriate way to handle these things.”

Under the new evaluation system student performance counts as 45 percent of a teacher’s evaluation, and while not all student performance hinges on standardized test scores, “we began to hear complaints that some people were being overwhelmed by the combination of Common Core and new teacher evaluation system,” Malloy said.

Late Tuesday evening, Malloy and legislative leaders sent a letter to the Performance Evaluation Advisory Council, which includes members of the state’s two teacher unions, and asked them to delay coupling the new evaluation system and the Common Core.

By Wednesday morning the group had agreed to ask the federal government to modify its waiver and delay applying the new teacher evaluations and observations to a new standardized test for the Common Core Standards. About 70 percent of the state’s school districts have transitioned to the Common Core’s Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium tests.

Before Malloy arrived at the meeting Wednesday, the group also outlined options for districts to give them more flexibility to decide which components of the new evaluation system should be used.

The decision does not eliminate the use of evaluations, but it allows for a teacher to choose one goal or objective instead of four and it gives them the option of choosing various indicators for what they count toward student performance in those evaluations. School districts are being asked to submit their revised evaluation plans to the Education Department no later than March 30, 2014.

In addition, Malloy said he would sign an executive order creating a subcommittee of classroom teachers to make recommendations on how best to move forward with the new system. Their recommendations won’t be made until Jan. 1, 2015.

Christine Stuart photo “We’re trying to make it right. We’re trying to create an education system that works,” House Speaker Brendan Sharkey, D-Hamden, who signed onto Malloy’s letter to the group, said.

Asked if it was a political calculation going into a statewide election year where Sharkey and a majority of state lawmakers are up for re-election, he said, “this isn’t political. This is the future of our state.”

He said the changes are in response to what they’re hearing from hundreds of teachers and parents.

The Connecticut Education Association has been holding regional education forums around the state and hundreds of educators are turning out, according to the group’s president.

CEA President Sheila Cohen said significant problems emerged this past school year because of the conformity and compliance that characterized the new teacher evaluation system. She said those issues included an over-reliance on testing, the number of required formal observations, development of Student Learning Objectives, and onerous data collection — all of which negatively impacted students.

Christine Stuart photo

CEA President Sheila Cohen

“In listening to what our teachers are saying. There’s a lot of frustration not only on their own behalf, but on behalf of the children that they teach,” Cohen said.

Cohen declined to say whether she thought the decision was political.

House Republicans, who held a press conference Wednesday afternoon, said the decision Malloy and the council made was not political and was the right decision.

“This isn’t about an election year because that’s every other year for us,” Rep. Tim Ackert, R-Coventry, said. “This is really about doing our jobs as representatives. Listening to the concerns and then saying, ‘Hey, where are the problems at’.”

He said some schools have already transitioned to the Common Core and are happy with where they are, but there are others that have expressed concerns.

“The Common Core philosophy in and of itself is not one which we disagree with in terms of their being some uniformity,” Cohen said. “But the way it’s being implemented and the way in which it was developed is one that we’re absolutely not sure of yet. For instance, we don’t know for a fact that all the guidelines are developmentally appropriate.”

The Common Core was adopted by the state Education Board in 2010, but there was never a vote of the legislature. The new teacher evaluation system was adopted by lawmakers in 2012 with bipartisan support.

Republican lawmakers called for public hearings on the Common Core to “let people know what’s going on with the standards in Connecticut and how is the appropriate way to roll this out.”

Ackert said he supports what Malloy and the council did Wednesday.

Sen. Minority Leader John McKinney, who is running for governor, didn’t comment on whether the decision was politically motivated, but warned Malloy should have listened to teachers from the start.

“Many of the teachers I met with on Monday still feel personally insulted by the sharp criticisms Governor Malloy levied against their profession in his haste to force his reform plan upon them,” McKinney said. “Teachers knew he was moving too fast then, and this school year has proven that out. The teachers I talk to want what’s best for their students.”

While politicians were patting themselves on the back for listening to their constituents, two education groups warned delay of Common Core standards would put Connecticut students further behind their peers.

“Although we are always supportive of public discourse, we will oppose any delay in implementation of the Common Core State Standards,” Jeffrey Villar, executive director of the Connecticut Council on Education Reform, said. “It’s important for us to have an open dialogue about the challenges and successes with implementation. This will enable us to learn from each other about how we can make these reforms truly transformative and effective.”

Jennifer Alexander, CEO of Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now, whose group fought hard to implement a teacher evaluation system agreed with Villar.

“Educators all across our state are working hard to make the Common Core State Standards come alive in their classrooms, and kids are benefiting from these changes,” Alexander said. “But the fact remains that kids in Connecticut are falling behind students in other states and countries. That’s why we cannot back away from moving forward with the Common Core standards.”

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(19) Comments

posted by: art vandelay | January 29, 2014  2:24pm

art vandelay

Who’s kidding whom or who. (I could never get those right)  Malloy is posturing for re-election and he’s making nice to every group he upset back in 2011.  I love how a surplus surprisingly emerges 10 months prior to the election.  If the voters in this state had an ounce of brains (which they don’t) they would send him packing come November.

posted by: Bluecoat | January 29, 2014  2:45pm

I will repeat.
Where is the concern of the data mining of personal and private information that will take place and in some case already has, while students are taking the electronic tests as administered by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortia?
Does anyone in this state care about privacy of students and parents?
Who cares about the teachers, they knew this was coming, and now they are complaining?
How about teachers standing up[ with parents to protect form the data collection?
I doubt that is going to happen.
Malloy just bought his win in November.
Can someone here at CT newsjunkie investigate the companies that have contracts with the State of CT which are authorized to collect student level data on our kids, that will include personal and private information?

The following States have pulled out of their assessment program, whether it be Smarter Balanced or PARCC:
Utah, Oklahoma, Georgia, Alabama, Indiana, Kansas, Pennsylvania, Alaska, Florida
States actively considering pulling out:
Michigan, Kentucky,
Norht Carolina, Iowa
States that have not joined either:
Virginia, Texas, Nebraska, Minnesota

In short, there is no need for this in order to rteach any standard that is stuffed down our throats.
Are there any grown ups here in CT?

posted by: Bluecoat | January 29, 2014  3:04pm

Some sample questions that were asked of kids in the Montgomery County School District in Maryland,during a survey that did not count towards their grades, but the kids did have to log in with their Personal Identification number in order to participate:

If President Obama were caucasian, how much more or less criticism do you think he would recieve?

How many siblings do you have?

Were you born in the US?

What part of Montgomery County do you liv?

Ok, OK, not so bad, but how about these questions:

What race to you most identify with?
Hispanic, Asian, African American, Middle Eastern, Caucasian, South Asian, Mixed, Native American, Pacific Islander, Other?

What is your living situation?
Both Parents, Sgnl Mother, Sngl Father, Legal Guard. Split between parents, Parent & Ste Parent, Other?

What is your household Income?
less than 50K, 50K-100K
100K-150K, 150K-250K, More that 250K, other?

What is your sexual orientation?
Straight, gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual, Not sure, Other(transgender, asexual, pansexual, etc.)

Parent Political identification:
Dem, Repub. Libert. Indepe. I have no idea, Other?

Marijuana in Marylad should be:
Legal for all uses, Legal for Medicinal reasons, not legal?

What best represents your feelings/sentiments aboout Obamacare?
Beneficial to everyone, It bebefits the poor only but thats ok, It benefits the poor only and it hurtsthe economy,Its the worst thing to happen in America in a long time
Its neither good nor bad, no opinion?

To see more, you can find this story on the net…

But really, what a waste of time and resources.

And will kids who have a different political opinion than the teacher be handled differently?

Will the electronic assessments, which apparently change in real time, be adjusted for democraat kids? Gay kids?
Will our kids all take the same test?

Some how I think not.
Time to include the assessment portion in this discussion. and it should the first part halted, not the teacher evaulations.

WHO IS LOOKING OUT FOR THE PRIVACY RIGHTS OF THE PARENTS AND KIDS?
Where is OUR Union Rep?

posted by: justsayin | January 29, 2014  3:45pm

10days ago we could not live without common core, it was showing results…(i disagree) Nothing more transparent than this ploy to pander again for votes, shameless.

posted by: Sarah Darer Littman | January 29, 2014  6:20pm

Yes, and I’ve got a really great bridge to sell you. It’s located in Brooklyn.

posted by: newview | January 29, 2014  6:37pm

If you are looking for certain failure in applying new methodology and criteria to any vocation,let administrators, union officials, and politicians develop the playbook.

posted by: MissAnthrope | January 29, 2014  6:53pm

“While politicians were patting themselves on the back for listening to their constituents, two education groups warned delay of Common Core standards would put Connecticut students further behind their peers.”

Do NOT LET THE REFORM GROUPS FOOL YOU… Connecticut does extremely well educating children when compared to other states. Google “NAEP RESULTS” to find out how CT does against other states.

posted by: Linda12 | January 29, 2014  6:57pm

Alexander, can you perform some basic research? Do you just spin the lies handed to you?  Your talking points are not only stale, but inaccurate.  I hear Riccards calling you.

CCER also reports schools in CT have been working on the national standards for YEARS.

These people are clueless. Leave your offices and get out to see real kids and teachers please.

Cut the videos conferences with Duncan, Rhee, Gates and Broad. You are seriously out of touch with reality.

posted by: Bluecoat | January 29, 2014  7:58pm

“Are you saying that a new playbook—nothing more than diagrams on paper—will magically change the game?” a representative of local television station WJLA wanted to know.

“From now on every quarterback will be calling the same plays,” Goodell replied. “In other words, all of them will play like Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.

“Even Mark Sanchez?” asked a dubious correspondent from the New York Post.

“That’s the beauty of the Common Core Playbook,” Duncan explained. “We draw up new standards—kind of like we said we would do under No Child Left Behind—but this time the standards really work, because I promise they will. After all, I’m really smart. Did I mention that I went to Harvard? See: all the running backs run the same plays and all succeed the same way, because the coaches don’t try to design their own schemes.”

“Naturally, all defenses will be set up in the same way,” the Commissioner added.

A young lady standing in the back of the auditorium raised a hand. The Secretary called on her to state her question.

“I’m sorry. I’m not a sports person. I’m just a third grade teacher visiting the capitol on vacation. Are you saying that if all coaches follow the same plays and all players follow the same offensive and defensive plans this will guarantee success for every player and every team?”

“Yes…” Duncan began; but the teacher had more to say.

“Wouldn’t it be wiser to let the coaches design their plays? Aren’t coaches skilled in their field and doesn’t knowledge gathered over many years in the game count for anything? Don’t players have different strengths and weaknesses, so that coaches must tailor plans to meet their needs? Don’t players, themselves, have a dramatic impact on their own success or failure during the games and the success of their teams? No playbook in the world would have saved Aaron Hernandez if he was truly intent on committing murder this past week. And I’ve heard Peyton Manning studies more game film than anyone else…”

By now, Duncan was shifting nervously from foot to foot at the podium where he stood. “Did I mention I went to Harvard? I think we experts can fix the NFL, just like we’re fixing the schools! Pretty soon, we’ll be like Finland, whose students rank #1 in reading and math whenever international competitions are held. Just listen to me and all the other school reformers. By the way, I went to Harvard, in case you’ve forgotten.”

“I don’t think that guy knows s$%# about football,” a sportscaster from Chicago could be heard telling the teacher.

“I don’t think he knows anything about education, either,” she nodded glumly. Unlike school reformers she had learned about helping students by actually helping students for many years. She already knew what worked in a classroom and understood that writing a bunch of standards had almost nothing to do with real success.

posted by: Bluecoat | January 29, 2014  8:04pm

Just in time for the Super Bowl!
NFL adopts Common Core Play Book
www.ateacheronteaching.blogspot.com

posted by: DrHunterSThompson | January 29, 2014  10:37pm

DrHunterSThompson

hey, who cares? we are growing weed!  twist one up!

HST

posted by: Linda12 | January 30, 2014  6:43am

It’s not political…sure. 

The #itcan’twait education governor morphs into the let’s slow down I gotta get reelected politician.

But, hey it’s all for the kids.

posted by: jim black | January 30, 2014  10:08am

Run Malloy, run.

posted by: LongJohn47 | January 30, 2014  1:06pm

Of course it’s political.  The real question is, “is that a bad thing”? 

Anyone at the CEA meeting on Monday knows that teachers are up in arms.  If Malloy hadn’t listened, what would the headline have been?

Political leaders are supposed to:
—lead
—listen to constituents

Leading means taking people where they haven’t been before.  Sometimes that doesn’t work out.  The smart leader then changes tack and reassesses.

Of course, that’s political.  But in this case it’s also the right thing to do, and it’s how democracy works.

posted by: Sarah Darer Littman | January 30, 2014  9:55pm

LongJohn47 - your analysis would be valid if Malloy listened to constituents who have providing him with the same information and data he is suddenly now listening to now that it is 2014 and he has done the election math for the last several years. And not only has he been ignoring it, he has been arguing to the contrary. I sat at a CTNJ editorial board meeting where he argued with me that teachers weren’t leaving the profession due to NCLB. No way no how, according to the Governor. He was adamant that the reason teachers were leaving the profession was that “they were all hired at the same time”  and now they’re retiring “just like the state troopers”.  When I said that wasn’t the case, he said “Where’s your proof?”  So after the meeting I sent his office a study - you know, actual research - with data showing that teachers were leaving the profession due to NCLB. No response. And of course, Malloy has absolutely no data to prove his claim, because it’s not true. So all this about him being a “leader” and now “listening”? Sorry, not buying it.

posted by: dano860 | January 31, 2014  9:16am

SDL, It would be nice to think that facts would really matter to Dannel but it apparently gets in the way of his story line. Keep after them, some of the truth may make it to the low information voters.

posted by: LongJohn47 | January 31, 2014  9:35am

Sarah - I think we’re saying the same thing.  Malloy had his mind (or at least his public position) changed because of electoral considerations rather than pure policy.

As a voter, you can consider it however you like, and support him or not.  But either way he’s a leader by definition, and will be until next January at a minimum.

And let’s assume that your policy position is best, that you were right and he was wrong.  Now, for whatever tainted reason (“politics”), he’s backing off. 

Isn’t that what you want, both policy-wise and politically?  Isn’t it better for all of us that the Governor can count votes and change course?  How would you feel if he ignored the numbers and dug in?  Wouldn’t we be talking about him as being “out of touch” and “unwilling to listen”?

posted by: Linda12 | January 31, 2014  10:53am

Long john, to be brief, Malloy will once again change course and do another 180 back to his orginal position IF he is re-elected. Teachers are not stupid and we vote. We were used and abused. We don’t buy his sudden concern because it’s not for us or our kids. It’s all for him and we have no trust. Let it implode faster under Foley. The CCS trifecta is doomed anyway. It’s only a matter of time.

posted by: Sarah Darer Littman | January 31, 2014  12:30pm

Long John - if he had listened prior to “counting votes” and wasting money and alienating teachers and allowing special ed violations in charter schools because he was so busy listening to ConCann, CIBA, CCER et all, maybe I’d be more inclined to believe he was really “listening” rather than making a short term political ploy that he’ll u-turn from immediately if re-elected. Kind of like Joe Lieberman, who became slightly less pro-Iraq war after he got that primary loss to Ned Lamont shock, yet was even more of a hawk once reelected.