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Jun 302012

This past week, Connecticut’s State Board of Education unanimously approved the adoption of teacher and administrator evaluation guidelines, now known as “Core Requirements”.  The Core Requirements, which were developed by the Performance Evaluation Advisory Council (PEAC) after almost two years of work, call for an unprecedented amount of feedback and support to be provided to teachers and school administrators and factor student performance into evaluations.

Teacher and Administrator Evaluation Process and Components

The approved Core Requirements lay the foundation for a comprehensive and standardized system for teacher and administrator evaluations based, in part, on student performance.

The teacher and administrator evaluation process will center around three annual conferences between a teacher or administrator and their evaluator: an initial goal-setting conference where the teacher or administrator meets with the evaluator to establish student learning objectives and goals, followed by a mid-year check-in to review the teacher or administrator’s progress toward their objectives and an end-of-year conference to review the teacher or administraror’s observed practice and evidence of student academic achievement, including a self-assessment.

For the first time in state history, districts must provide teachers and school administrators with professional development and growth opportunities based on their strengths and areas for improvement in relation to student learning needs, as identified through the evaluation process, and develop individualized improvement plans for teachers and administrators who receive a rating of developing or below standard.

Teachers will be evaluated on the following indicators:  

  • Student academic growth (45%)
    • Standardized test (22.5%)
    • A maximum of one standardized test and a minimum of one measure that is not a standardized test (22.5%)
  • Observation of teacher practice by administrator (40%)
  • Parent or peer feedback (10%)
  • Whole-school student learning indicator or student feedback (5%)

Administrators will be evaluated on the following indicators:

  • Student academic growth (45%)
    • Standardized test, including the School Performance Index (22.5%)
    • Two local indicators of student growth (graduation rates for high schools must be included) (22.5%)
  • Observation of administrator performance and practice (40%)
  • Stakeholder feedback (10%)
  • Teacher effectiveness outcomes (5%)

The evaluator will complete the evaluation process by rating the teacher’s performance on a 4-tiered rubric: Exemplary, Proficient, Developing and Below Standard.

Each district is responsible for defining effectiveness and ineffectiveness in relation to the indicators and ratings listed above.  A demonstration of effective practice will serve as the basis for granting teachers tenure and ineffectiveness can serve as grounds for dismissal beginning in the 2014-2015 school year.

Next Steps

The adoption of teacher and administrator evaluation guidelines marks an important step in the implementation of the landmark education reform bill (Senate Bill 458) passed in May.    Sixteen school districts have been approved to pilot the teacher and administrator evaluation Core Requirements in the upcoming school year.  Support will be provided by the State Department of Education and the Neag School of Education at the University of Connecticut will conduct an analysis of the program.  The goal of the pilot program is to work out any kinks in the Core Requirements before they are implemented statewide in the 2014-2015 school year.

CCER would like to recognize the members of PEAC and the State Board of Education for their hard work and commitment to ensuring that all students in Connecticut receive a high-quality education.  Stay tuned for updates and news as the State Board of Education, State Department of Education, and pilot districts begin to implement teacher and administrator evaluation systems based on the Core Requirements.



Tuesday, July 10th

Achievement Gap

Task Force Meeting

9:30 AM in

Room 2600 of the LOB

Wednesday, July 1th

State Board of Education Meeting

8:30 AM in

Room 1D of the LOB

Jun 202012

Today, ConnCAN released its Teacher Contract Database, an online interactive database providing unprecedented access to teachers’ contracts from 173 out of 174 local education agencies (LEAs), including traditional public school districts, regional districts, charter schools, and the state vocational-technical high school system.

This Teacher Contract Database represents the first time in state history that school boards, superintendents, teacher representatives, policymakers and community members will have a reliable statewide source for all things contract-related. This is the kind of transparency policy makers have been asking for.

For each contract, ConnCAN presents core information, including (among other things): union affiliation (CEA or AFT); number of teaching days; number of days without students; workday length; salary; compensated professional development days; reduction in force provisions; and evaluation procedures.

The ConnCAN Teacher Contract Database will allow users to access analyses of key contract provisions, district-to-district comparisons, and information on state trends and notable contract provisions.

We know that many, many teachers work much longer days than what is required in their contract. However, when disputes arise or reforms are sought, the contract is a document that guides decisions and work rules and we believe that we must, therefore, look closely at what these contracts stipulate.

The Database was inspired by a 2007 National Center for Teacher Quality (NCTQ) effort creating a national teacher contract database for select cities, including New Haven and Hartford.


Click here to access the database:



May 092012

This week, Connecticut legislators in both the Senate and House  voted in favor of  Governor Dannel Malloy’s wide-ranging education reform bill SB 458 (formerly SB 24.)  Mired in controversy from the start and perhaps a bit  ambitious given the laundry list of reforms, a compromise was finally reached.

REd APPLES  leadership provided testimony in support of the bill last February and have strongly advocated with local state representatives to support the bill   SB 24 Op-Ed  as Norwalk stands to benefit from a better evaluation process and improvements in reading instruction.

Below is ConnCAn’s high level summary of the strengths and weaknesses of the compromise bill.

High Level Summary of SB 458 (formerly SB 24)

5/8/12, 2:30 pm

SB 458, An Act for Educational Reform, is close to the original bill proposed by Governor Malloy on February 8 and presents a significant step forward for systemic, comprehensive reform. This brief summary presents strengths, weaknesses and items to keep an eye on. A more detailed ConnCAN analysis of the bill is forthcoming.

Strengths of SB 458

  • Reading by Grade 3: Establishes a pilot program to enhance literacy instruction in grades k-3.
  • School Turnarounds: Creates a Commissioner’s Network to intervene in up to 25 of lowest performing schools over the next 3 years.   High-performing non-profit partners (such as charter school operators) can run up to six of the 25 schools.  The Commissioner will have the ability to conduct impact bargaining, opening current collective bargaining agreements.
  • State-Authorized Charter Schools: Increases per pupil state charter funding to $10,500 in 2012-13, $11,000 in 2013-14, and $11,500 for 2014-15 (up from current $9,400).  Charter funding is now included in the state’s ECS funding statute.
  • Locally Authorized Charter Schools: Provides locally authorized charter schools with $500,000 start up grants and $3,000 per pupil in additional funding from the state.
  • Educator Quality: Requires annual educator evaluations, rating all teachers and administrators as exemplary, proficient, developing, and below standard.  Establishes a pilot of the evaluation system in 8-10 districts to build legitimacy of system as it moves to scale.
  • Teacher Tenure: Requires that teacher tenure be earned based on effective practice, with “ineffectiveness” added as a criteria for dismissal.  Also streamlines the termination process for ineffective or incompetent educators.
  • School Finance: Creates a common chart of accounts for all local or regional boards of education, regional educational service centers, charter schools, or charter management organizations.  System will be online by June 2013.
  • School Finance: Creates conditional funding for a set of Alliance Districts and Education Reform Districts.  The lowest-performing districts using the new accountability measures will only get funds if they meet certain reform conditions established by SDE.

Weaknesses of SB 458

  • Teacher Certification: No connection between educator evaluation and certification.  Continued requirement for a subject-area master’s degree for upper-level certification.  Eliminated proposed “master teacher” status in certification.
  • Educator Quality: Nothing on last in/first out layoffs (LIFO) or forced placement/bumping. Potentially insufficient incentives to recruit top teachers to highest-need schools.
  • School Finance: In Common Chart of Accounts, all entities (including charter schools) to disclose the receipt of revenue and donations of cash and real/personal property in the aggregate totaling $500 or more.

Items to Keep an Eye On

  • School Turnarounds: Could result in process- heavy requirements. Will need to make sure the commissioner has the authority he needs and that reforms don’t get bogged down.
  • Charter Schools: Gives preference to charter applications focused on English language learner (ELL) students, with two of the first four new state-approved charters requiring an ELL focus.
  • Charter Schools: Funding for state-authorized charter schools will now move from state, through locality, to the charter school.  Will need to ensure that districts pay the charter funds on time and in full.   Also need to ensure that future changes to ECS funding will not have a negative impact on state charter funding and that future efforts do not scale back the funding escalation.


To view the entire bill click here:  Education Reform Bill 458



Mar 162012

Of the many issues being debated in the grocery list of reforms in  Senate Bill 24, one that is near and dear to teacher’s hearts is the appraisal process.  We couldn’t agree more.   Involved parents repeatedly hear of the conflicts between principals and teachers and the “fairness” of the overall process.  To be sure it seems a bit convoluted, its a  57 page document.  We hear of abuses to the system , where ratings can be arbitrary and or inflated for what is referred to as  ‘principal’s pets.’   Therefore, at the last Board of Ed meeting, we asked that the BoE  look into opening up the process by providing a baseline to the public and NPS staff of the appraisal system.   By that, we mean that we would like to see BY SCHOOL the rating percentages (no names of course)  of teaching staff.  We want to know the percentages of DISTINGUISHED, PROFICIENT, BASIC and UNSATISFACTORY on a by school basis, so that we can all baseline consistency across schools, and examine for lack of a better term grade inflation.  Opening up this process (with no names) will provide everyone with an indication of where Norwalk stands on this controversial topic in anticipated legislative reforms coming down the pike. 

Note: We are also pressing for a rating system for Principals because the current  NPS appraisal process for principals and administration does not allow for one.


Below is the letter that was read at the Board of Ed Meeting on 3-6-12.

Members of the Board of Education:

I saw on the agendas today, that the Board met with CABE to discuss the superintendent evaluation process and how you will be likely be holding an Executive Session after this meeting, to apply what you have learned, to our own superintendent Dr. Marks.  I applaud your efforts.  But, I would like to add, as a parent, that we have many more employees in this school district that directly impact our children’s learning.   With that in mind, I would like to take this opportunity to make a formal request of the BoE.

Last month, a group of us from Norwalk, myself included, testified on behalf of Norwalk in support of Governor Malloy’s Education Reform Bill, known as Senate Bill 24.

For those not familiar with the bill, it deals with a host of reform issues including:

1)      Enhance family access to early childhood education

2)      State support and intervention in low performing schools

3)      Expand availability of high quality school models

4)      Remove red tape and other barriers to success

5)      Develop the very best teachers and principals

6)      Deliver more resources to districts that embrace reform

Norwalk’s delegation gave testimony in support of the bill, but paid particular attention to items 5 and 6 of the Governor’s bill as it relates to – developing the very best teachers and principals and delivering more resources to districts that embrace reform; in particular the travesty and inequity of funding that our city experiences, when compared to cities and town across the state.

Another more controversial issue that appeared to be resolved in January had to do with the Commissioner of Education and CEA Leadership (the state’s largest teacher’s union) was an agreement on a new standardized evaluation process for teachers which would take into account a number of factors including: standardized tests, classroom performance, peer, student and parent feedback.  Since January, CEA has experienced buyer’s remorse and are seeking changes to the plan.  CEA Executive Director, Mary Loftus Levine, speaking at the time of the agreement, wanted a fair, valuable and reliable mechanism for evaluating teachers.  I couldn’t agree more.  But may I also add the word, consistent.

With changes coming down from the state with regard to the evaluation process of staff, it would probably be a good idea for Norwalk to get ahead of the curve and understand where it stands with respect to its own staff’s appraisals. Therefore, I would like to formally request a public status report of the appraisal process for the principals and teachers of all 19 schools.  Included in that report, I would like to see the status of principals (not by name mind you) and the rating percentages of NPS teachers which includes: unsatisfactory, basic, proficient and distinguished, BY SCHOOL.   I personally have concerns with a process that has 57 pages (37 for administration) and upon examining the documents myself, look about as complicated as the US tax code.  I’m sure that the Board, Mr. Mellion and Mr. Ditrio would ALL agree that Norwalk needs to ENSURE a consistent application of the evaluation process across ALL 19 schools, so that parents are assured a great education for all students and teachers are ensured the fair process they deserve.  The best place to start is to baseline where we already are today.

Thank you

Lisa Thomson

Read By Lauren Rosato


Feb 282012

About this survey

ConnCan hired  Davis, Hibbitts & Midghall, Inc. (DHM Research) to conduct a telephone survey of Connecticut teachers and administrators to determine their opinions on education reform in the state.

Research Methodology: Between January 10 and 12, 2012, DHM Research conducted a telephone survey of 400 teachers and administrators that took an average of 12 minutes to
administer. This is a sufficient sample size to assess opinions generally and to review findings by multiple subgroups, including gender, length of experience, and assignment

The sample used for the random survey started with a list of 51,000 education professionals obtained from the Connecticut State Department of Education. For this study, certain types
of education professionals were excluded from the sample list (e.g., school librarians). The final sample was drawn from a list of approximately 26,000 full-time classroom teachers
and administrators (5% of the sample) with home phone numbers.

The survey contains questions regarding: opinions on school staffing policies, what teachers think should matter most in reviewing or furthering teacher certification, personal experiences, in their schools,  regarding teacher performance, whether they have experienced wage freezes as a result of the economy, what their biggest challenges are as public school teachers in general and a host of other questions.

Click below to access the results of the survey.


Feb 092012

The Long-Term Impacts of Teachers: Teacher Value-Added and Student Outcomes In Adulthood

Raj Chetty, John N. Friedman, and Jonah E. Rockoff | National Bureau of Economic Research | December 2011


This study examines the question of whether teachers’ impact on students’ test scores (known as the “value added” model) is an accurate measure of teacher quality. Researchers analyze school district data spanning 20 years for more than 2.5 million students. The study shows that teachers have significant impact on student learning in all grades from four through eight, and that students assigned to high-value-added teachers are more likely to enroll in postsecondary education, attend higher-ranked colleges, earn higher salaries, live in higher socioeconomic status neighborhoods, save more for retirement, and are less likely to have children as teenagers. Based on this research, the report concludes that effective teachers create substantial economic value (for example, replacing a teacher whose value-added is in the bottom five percent with an average teacher would increase the present value of a classroom of students lifetime income by more than $250,000) and that test score results are helpful in identifying such teachers.

Click below to read the full report.


Jan 312012

The National Council On Teacher Quality has just released it 2011 State Teacher Policy Yearbook, with the state of Connecticut receiving an overall grade of C- for its efforts in reform, ranking it 25th in the nation and ranking its reform progress as low when compared to other states.

The study has been primarily funded by: the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Gleason Family Foundation, Carnegie Corporation of New York, The Joyce Foundation and George Gund Foundation.

However, the organization acknowledged that state education agencies remain their most important partners in their data collection effort, with their cooperation ensuring factual accuracy.  Every state formally received a draft of the Yearbook in July, 2011 for comment and correction, including Connecticut.  States also received a final draft of their reports a month prior to release. All but one state, responded their questions.

The 2011 State Teacher Policy Yearbook examines state data in 5 areas:

  • Delivering Well Prepared Teachers
  • Expanding the Teaching Pool
  • Identifying Effective Teachers
  • Retaining Effective Teachers
  • Exiting Ineffective Teachers

Click here to read the full report. stpy11_connecticut_report

Dec 182011

Following is the Policy On Out of District Transfers according to the Norwalk Public School Board of Education Policy Book Section 5117 (a/b)

The Board of Education establishes school boundaries.

The administration of each school is responsible to ensure that students are registered in the school attendance areas.  Exceptions to attend a school other than in the school attendance areas may be granted at the discretion of the Superintendent of School for the reasons listed below.  Included in such consideration is class size and racial balance.  Exceptions are to be reviewed annually.

1.  Physical or emotional handicap

2. Childcare

3. Family removal to new home

4. Emergency and unusual education reasons (the decision may be made only after consultation with, and the approval of the Superintendent of School.

Below is a list of the Out Of District Transfers and the Schools requested:

Out of District Transfer chart 11-12 elmentary

Out of District Transfer chart 11-12 elmentar #2

Out of District Transfer chart 11-12 secondarydoc

Note: Out of District refers to Norwalk residents requesting different schools in the district and not NON-RESIDENTS.

Nov 152011

According to the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) state governments are the single most powerful authority over the teaching profession. Whether through rules or regulation approved by state boards of education or professional standards boards, executive orders issued by state school chiefs or laws passed by legislatures, state authority is far reaching. State policies have an impact on who decides to enter teaching, who stays—and everything in between.

NCTQ tracks and analyzes states’ teacher policies, including key areas such as teacher preparation, evaluation, alternative certification and compensation, and offers recommendations for policy improvements to help advance teacher quality throughout the country.

The National Council on Teacher Quality advocates for reforms in a broad range of teacher policies at the federal, state, and local levels in order to increase the number of effective teachers.Based in Washington, D.C., the National Council on Teacher Quality was founded in 2000 to provide an alternative national voice to existing teacher organizations, and build the case for a comprehensive reform agenda that would challenge the current structure and regulation of the profession.

Key 2010 Findings:

Because of the federal Race to the Top competition, 2010 was not a typical year in teacher policy. Almost every state entered the race, and their efforts to be competitive and secure some of the $4.3 billion in federal funds led to a number of significant new laws and regulations.  However,
  • Most states’ evaluation, tenure and dismissal policies remain disconnected from classroom effectiveness.
  • Requirements for teacher preparation too often fail to ensure teacher candidates have the most critical knowledge and skills.
  • In almost every state, licensure requirements do not ensure that teachers know the subject matter they will teach.
  • Rather than working to expand the teacher pipeline, many states create obstacles in their alternate routes to certification.
Click below to view the how the State of Connecticut stacks up against the rest of the county .



Nov 102011

Last Spring, the Superintendent conducted a School Climate Survey.  While not perfect, it was a first for the Norwalk Public School District, insofar as it categorically asked questions to all NPS staff and parents, across the district, in order to elicit stakeholder feedback to improve our schools.

The response rate included:

  • 1189 staff members (mainly teachers)  80% response rate
  • 1050 parents – 20% response rate (although response rates varied by school)
  • 90.8% of respondents identified themselves as white

The surveys were intended to  help school leaders understand what parents and staff see as the strengths and weaknesses of their school’s learning environment.

Respondents were asked their satisfaction with ten key areas: Student Learning/Progress, Staff/Student Expectations, Professional Development, Technology, Safety and Security,  School Leadership, School Atmosphere, Facilities, School Meals, and Transportation.

Another School Climate Survey will be conducted next spring and NPS staff hope to include measures that increase the response rate from parents in the community, especially the African American and Hispanic communities.

Below is a District Level Summary of the Survey.  A detailed breakdown (by individual school) of the district results can be found by clicking on the Norwalk Public School website.


Norwalk Public SchoolsSurveys11111