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Apr 072013
 

Education Committee Makes Changes to Education Funding in Governor’s Proposed Budget 

The Education Committee approved a substitute for H.B. 6357 (“An Act Implementing the Budget Recommendations of the Governor Concerning Education”) on March 28, 2013. The bill makes changes to a number of provisions in the original proposal. The following are some key changes.

  • Modifies the proposed ECS formula
  • Changes the weighting in the wealth calculation to weigh property wealth more heavily than income wealth
  • Reduces the proposed foundation amount from $11,754 to $11,525
  • Shifts some funding to the 10 lowest-performing districts
  • Eliminates the PILOT: State-Owned Property grant from the ECS account. This would be the first step in restoring the PILOT program to its current state.
  • Restores the public school transportation grant

Attached are updated town-by-town estimates of the ECS grant based on the Education Committee bill. The bill has been referred to the Appropriations Committee, which has a deadline of April 23.

13-34 Ed Comm Changes to HB 6357

Apr 032013
 

This week, The New York Times reported that  former Atlanta Superintendent, Dr. Beverly L.  Hall was indicted along with 30+ other district staff members for wide-spread cheating on standardized tests.  While this may be one of the largest incidents of cheating on standardized tests, they are not alone. Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers, blamed “test-crazed” education policies for the massive standardized-test cheating scandal. In a joint statement Tuesday, Weingarten and Verdaillia Turner, president of the Georgia Federation of Teachers, declared, “Standardized tests have a role in accountability, but today they dominate everything else and too often don’t even correlate to what students need to know to succeed.” They added that school districts in Atlanta, Washington, D.C., and elsewhere have put “enormous pressure” on teachers to improve scores.

See full story below:

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/30/us/former-school-chief-in-atlanta-indicted-in-cheating-scandal.html?_r=1&

A new survey by the National Center for Fair and Open Testing reports confirmed cases of test score manipulation in at least 37 states and Washington, D.C. in the past four academic years.  The group has documented   more than 50 ways schools improperly inflated their scores during that period. Below are examples taken from actual cases documented in government and reports. You can learn more here about the misuse of tests.

50 Ways to Cheat on Tests

Pre-Testing
Fail to store test materials securely
Encourage teachers to view test forms before they are administered
Teach to the test by ignoring subjects not on exam
Drill students on actual test items
Share test items on Internet before administration
Practice on copies of previously administered “secure” tests
Exclude likely low-scorers from enrolling in school
Hold-back low scorers from tested grade
“Leap-frog” promote some students over tested grade
Transfer likely low-scoring students to charter schools with no required tests
Push likely low scorers out of school or enroll them in GED programs
Falsify student identification numbers so low scorers are not assigned to correct demographic group
Urge low-scoring students to be absent on test day
Leave test materials out so students can see them before exam

During Testing
Let high-scorers take tests for others
Overlook “cheat sheets” students bring into classroom
Post hints (e.g. formulas, lists, etc) on walls or whiteboard
Write answers on black/white board, then erase before supervisor arrives
Allow students to look up information on web with electronic devices
Allow calculator use where prohibited
Ignore test-takers copying or sharing answers with each other
Permit students to go to restroom in groups
Shout out correct answers
Use thumbs up/thumbs down signals to indicate right and wrong responses
Tell students to “double check” erroneous responses
Give students notes with correct answers
Read “silent reading” passages out loud
Encourage students who have completed sections to work on others
Allow extra time to complete test
Leave classroom unattended during test
Warn staff if test security monitors are in school
Refuse to allow test security personnel access to testing rooms
Cover doors and windows of testing rooms to prevent monitoring
Give accommodations to students who didn’t officially request them

Post-Testing
Allow students to “make up” portions of the exam they failed to complete
Invite staff to “clean up” answer sheets before transmittal to scoring company
Permit teachers to score own students’ tests
Fill in answers on items left blank
Re-score borderline exams to “find points” on constructed response items
Erase erroneous responses and insert correct ones
Provide false demographic information for test takers to assign them to wrong categories
Fail to store completed answer sheets securely
Destroy answer sheets from low-scoring students
Report low scorers as having been absent on testing day
Share content with educators/students who have not yet taken the test
Fail to perform data forensics on unusual score gains
Ignore “flagged” results from erasure analysis
Refuse to interview personnel with potential knowledge of improper practices
Threaten discipline against testing impropriety whistle blowers
Fire staff who persist in raising questions
Fabricate test security documentation for state education department investigators
Lie to law enforcement personnel

 

 

Apr 032013
 

In February this year, Norwalk’s  Board of Education listened to a read out from CREC  on how it could improve its Special Ed practices in the area of consistency and transparency.  It would seem that Norwalk is not alone.  Last month, members of the group SPEDucated Parents of Darien and other parents of children in SPED (about 24 parents) have filed an unprecedented group complaint with the Connecticut State Dept of Education against their Special Ed Administration.  The complaint stems from not  including parents in their children’s Individual Education Plans (IEP.)  Under federal law and the Individual with Disabilities Education Act, Special Education students and parents are entitled to due process.  Part of the Darien parent’s complaint to the State Department of Education states:

We are parents of children with disabilities in the Darien Public Schools.  We write to request that you convene a hearing, pursuant to 20 U.S.C. §1413(d)(1) to withdraw funds from the Darien Board of Education for its systematic violations of parental rights under the IDEA [the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act].  We recognize that this is a drastic remedy and one that has never been invoked in Connecticut.  Nevertheless, the extent of wrongdoing and violation of the rights of students with disabilities by the Darien Public Schools warrants serious consideration by the State Department of Education, pursuant to its supervisory responsibility over local education authorities pursuant to the IDEA.

Below are links to the developing story.

http://darien.patch.com/articles/school-officials-on-special-ed-complaint-no-comment

http://darien.patch.com/articles/board-of-ed-responds-to-special-ed-complaint

http://darien.patch.com/articles/schools-supt-falcone-s-letter-to-parents-on-special-ed

http://darien.patch.com/articles/falcone-on-special-ed-document-from-foi-request-we-apologize

 

 

 

Apr 032013
 

Recently the Connecticut Mirror ran a story about 5th Grade teacher, Sharon Leger, who had  revealed that as a new teacher she was never taught in college how to get, and keep, the attention of her students. She also said that never learned how to tailor her lessons to students who don’t speak English or have special education needs.  Each year, 21 of the state’s  public and private colleges graduate about 3500 teachers each year however in two national surveys,  two  out of every three new teachers felt they had not been properly prepared for the classroom.

Click Below to read the full story.

http://ctmirror.com/story/19568/are-colleges-adequately-preparing-future-teachers-no-one-knows

Last year, the Education Reform Bill created EPAC (Educator Preparation Advisory Committee)  to work with the Board of Regents for Higher Education and the University of Connecticut to study issues concerning teacher preparation.  Their recommendations are attached in the report below:

recommendations