Amity Superintendent Explains State Initiatives

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Aug 302012

File photo of Amity Supt. John Brady.

Following is a letter from Amity Supt. John Brady:

We have gotten off to a good start to the 2012-2013 academic year.

As we begin this school year the actions taken by the General Assembly last spring have become a major focus to us as the Connecticut State Department of Education has translated legislation into improvement initiatives. I want to briefly share with you the major features of these initiatives since we will be devoting time and effort to incorporate them into our practices here at Amity.

Connecticut’s New Accountability System

Under the old No Child Left Behind System, each school and the District was rated by the percentage of students that attained proficiency in reading and math on the CMT and CAPT state tests. In Connecticut’s new accountability system the challenge is to have the vast majority of students in the goal range on these tests.

The state has also added a provision to award credit for moving students up the scale from the bottom to goal. This is meant to encourage districts to elevate all students not just those who are slightly below the proficiency rating. The other major change in accountability is that instead of just reading and math, student performance in science and writing will be be rated beginning with the testing in the spring of 2013.

 Educator Evaluation

Under the new educator evaluation model, which districts must develop this year in preparation for implementation in the fall of 2013, teachers and administrators will now be rated according to the following:

·    45% on “Student Growth and Development” as measured on standardized tests

·    40% on Observation of Teacher Performance

·    10% on Parent Feedback

·     5% on Whole School Student Learning or Student Feedback

The frequency of observation for experienced teachers will increase from once every four years to every year. All teachers and administrators will be evaluated using the above scheme each year. The state plan requires six evaluations for each teacher in year one of the plan. At the high school alone, that means nearly 900 evaluations. Evaluations can only be conducted by administrators. There are six administrators at the high school.

Common Core State Standards

Connecticut has adopted Common Core standards in English/Language Arts which will be applied in English as well as literacy standards what will be applied in social studies, Science and technical subjects. The state has also adopted math standards and specific science standards are forthcoming. We are required to incorporate these standards into our curriculum and more importantly teaching practices with full implementation and a new testing approach all to be implemented in 2015.

These changes will take a lot of thought and deft implementation in order to ensure they have the intended outcome of improving student learning. The good news at Amity is that we have become fully informed about each of these initiatives and that we have the capacity within our faculty and administrative team to make these changes. I must tell you, however, that 900 observations in year one of the educator evaluation model will be a real challenge.

I hope you find this information helpful. We will do our best to keep you informed as these initiative unfold.

John Brady

Orange Pulls Out Of State PEAC Pilot Program

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Jul 212012

Screen shot from video of Board members

In May, Orange Supt. Lynn McMullin expressed her excitement for being part of the new (PEAC) performance evaluation pilot program that would evaluate the performances of principals, administrators and teachers, based on a new state standard of effective practice using a program developed by the state’s Performance Evaluation Advisory Council.

But at this month’s Board of Education meeting, McMullin announced that Orange was withdrawing from the pilot due to the schedule.

“The timeline is too tight of a crunch for us to do this,” she said. “We have two new principals (Turkey Hill and Peck Place) and in order to continue with this I needed to give up four full days for the administrative team to be trained between August 13 and August 27. I had a feeling that our two new principals would like to have those four days in their new buildings in the two weeks before school starts and not being at the State Department of Education for training.”

She said although she and Colleen Murray — her new right hand person at Mary L.  Tracy School — were excited about the program when they were accepted into the pilot, but once the timeline was revealed, it was apparent that it would not work for Orange.

In addition, the Orange administrators only had seven days to make any amendments to the state’s program once it was released on July 20.

“What I want for Orange is to take the state’s product and modify it so that it fits Orange’s needs extremely well,” she said. “From previous experience, that kind of work takes many many hours and we wouldn’t be able to do that between July 21 and July 27. So I notified them that we’re pulling out.”

The Board members did not disagree with her decision.