SERC provided logistical support to the governor's office for Gov. Dannel Malloy's education workshop, "2012: The Year for Education Reform," on Thursday, January 5, 2012. Read about the event below.
Governor Malloy's Speech
Education andÂ Evaluation
BuildingÂ Pre-service PartnershipsÂ
'We Have to Be Partners' to MakeÂ Change Happen, Governor Says
Gov. Dannel Malloy on Jan. 5 declared 2012 the year for comprehensive education reform in Connecticut and challenged the state to close the nationâ€™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 â€śland of steady habitsâ€ťâ€”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.
â€śThis is the moment to do what we have failed to do ever before,â€ť Malloy said. â€śAnd youâ€™re the people to do it. And I have great confidence in you.â€ť
Members of the audience included educators, legislators, activists, and representatives from various agencies, including the Connecticut State Department of Education and SERC. Pulling together so many different stakeholders is critical to tackling the achievement gap, Malloy said.
â€śTo properly educate all of our children, regardless of the color of their skin, the preparation their parents had to be good parents or not, the wealth of the community in which they happen to be living in the moment, I understand that to do that, we have to be partners,â€ť he said.
Malloy is urging the General Assembly to begin crafting an education bill as soon as it convenes Feb. 8. In a letter to legislators last month announcing the workshop, Malloy described an outline for education reform that included greater access to early childhood education, intensive interventions in the lowest-performing schools, expanding the models of high-quality schools, and cultivating the best teachers and principals.
Those high-quality schools are often charter schools or other types of environments that have innovative approaches, he said. â€śIf we know these things produce success, then letâ€™s replicate them. And letâ€™s replicate them in a public school setting.â€ť
To keep the best educators, â€śwe simply have to do a better job of counseling teacher talentâ€¦ to stay in the field,â€ť Malloy said. And for those who cannot improve, â€ścounsel them into other areas [of work] where they could have very rewarding lives.â€ť
Malloyâ€™s speech came on the one-year anniversary of his taking office. At the beginning of his governorship, Malloy said that education reform would have to wait a year in order to focus on the state budget crisis. During that time, however, discussion about jobs inevitably led to serious debates about education, Malloy said.
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More Voices on Developing Great Teachers
Education and Evaluation
Teacher evaluations that provide only a snapshot of performance do not always help determine whether students are actually learning, panelists at the governorâ€™s education workshop said.
The purpose of teacher evaluations should be â€ścontinuous improvement,â€ť said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers. The evaluations should determine, â€śHave I taught what needs to be taught? Have kids learned? What do I need them to learn? How do I know if theyâ€™ve learned it? And what supports are available if they havenâ€™t?â€ť She challenged the continued focus on test scores in teacher evaluations, citing the â€śdifference between student test scores and student learning.â€ť
Weingarten questioned any singular focus on teacher effectiveness. â€śEven when [teachers are] the best they can be, it doesnâ€™t mean weâ€™re going to help all kids all the time.â€ť
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.
â€śEvaluation is not the be-all and the end-all in education,â€ť Weingarten said. â€śYou have to have collaboration, you have to have the building of capacity, â€¦ [and] you have to have commitment.â€ť
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Professional development of teachers â€śin need of improvementâ€ť 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 governorâ€™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 teacherâ€™s current effectiveness, he said.
The superintendentsâ€™ 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.
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Building Pre-service Partnerships
State and national leaders at the governorâ€™s education workshop presented several ideas to improve education programs at colleges and universities:
- â€śBuild real partnershipsâ€ť between schools and teaching colleges and universities, â€śnot partnerships that come casually,â€ť said Art Levine, president of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Program.
- Superintendent preparation programs need to be evaluated based on the performance of the graduatesâ€™ school districts, said Robert Villanova of the University of Connecticut Neag School of Education.
- Families and communities need to be part of teacher preparation, so they get exposed to â€śreal peopleâ€ť and not just the classroom environment, noted audience member Gwen Samuel, founder of the State of Black CT Alliance.
- The education curriculum must address race andÂ make teachersÂ prepared to teach in a diverse environment, the panelists agreed.
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