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|State Leaders Aim to Transform Education, Close the Achievement Gap|
Gov. Dannel Malloy on Jan. 5 declared 2012 the year for comprehensive education reform in Connecticut and challenged the state to close the nation’s largest academic achievement gap once and for all.
At his education workshop at Central Connecticut State University, Malloy called on the crowd of 350 to help Connecticut shed its reputation as the “land of steady habits”—at least when it comes to education. He suggested that the state would finally move beyond obstacles that have reinforced the status quo and pass comprehensive reform for the benefit of all children.
More Voices on Developing Great Teachers
Education and Evaluation
The purpose of teacher evaluations should be “continuous improvement,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers. The evaluations should determine, “Have I taught what needs to be taught? Have kids learned? What do I need them to learn? How do I know if they’ve learned it? And what supports are available if they haven’t?” She challenged the continued focus on test scores in teacher evaluations, citing the “difference between student test scores and student learning.”
Weingarten questioned any singular focus on teacher effectiveness. “Even when [teachers are] the best they can be, it doesn’t mean we’re going to help all kids all the time.”
Also, school leaders should be evaluated right along with the teachers, said Richard Laine, former director of education for The Wallace Foundation. Teacher effectiveness often depends on whether they have a system of support surrounding them.
“Evaluation is not the be-all and the end-all in education,” Weingarten said. “You have to have collaboration, you have to have the building of capacity, … [and] you have to have commitment.”
Professional development of teachers “in need of improvement” is a key component of improving schools, said Joseph Cirasuolo, executive director of the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents.
While discussions of education reform focus on incompetent teachers, Cirasuolo told the governor’s education workshop that it is not difficult to remove these teachers. The focus should be on those who could improve with some level of professional development, which should be differentiated depending on a teacher’s current effectiveness, he said.
The superintendents’ association recently released a comprehensive set of recommendations on reforming education in Connecticut, including areas of professional development and an individualized path for every student. Click here to read the Educational Transformation Project.
State and national leaders at the governor’s education workshop presented several ideas to improve education programs at colleges and universities: