State requests waiver for testing on teacher evaluations

State requests waiver for testing on teacher evaluations


If the state gets a waiver from the federal government, standardized testing will not be included in this year’s teacher and administrator evaluations.

The state is asking the federal government for permission to choose between giving the Connecticut Mastery Test and Connecticut Academic Performance Tests or the new Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. The Smarter Balanced testing will officially go into effect during the 2013-2014 school year. Offering the new test to students this school year will prepare teachers and students for the changes. If the waiver is approved, standardized testing would not be used to rate or evaluate teachers because a portion of the new state mandated evaluations were based on the CMT and CAPT scores, not the Smarter Balanced test.

“Most school systems are asking to take the Smarter Balanced,” said Miguel Cardona, evaluations specialist for Meriden schools.

Cardona said it allows school systems to be a year ahead of things.

If the waiver goes through, schools can offer the Smarter Balanced test, Cardona said. But because a portion of the teacher and administrative evaluation rubrics were based on student CMT and CAPT scores, that part would have to be removed, Cardona said. The state doesn’t want schools to test students twice, once on the Smarter Balanced model, and once on the CMT or CAPT, he said.

The state is asking school systems to sign an amendment making sure its OK that part of the evaluation is removed.

“In my opinion it’s a good thing,” Cardona said. “It’s an opportunity to try out a new plan without further pressure.”

Evaluations are being conducted differently this year due to new state regulations. Four of Meriden’s schools are implementing the new process and next year the whole school system will adopt the changes. The standardized testing is one less part of the evaluation evaluators would have to worry about.

Cardona said the state is confident the waiver will go through. Schools have been asked to plan as if it has passed.

Teachers have been “awesome accepting the new evaluation plans,” Cardona said. He said some were apprehensive about the new plans but they see the evaluations as a tool for development.

Meriden Federation of Teachers President Erin Benham said teachers adjusted fairly well to the new evaluation thanks to Cardona, who has met with the four schools undergoing the new process.

Teachers also now realize the evaluation changes aren’t as different as they thought they might be, Benham said.

“It’s really not all that different than what we had or what we’re used to,” said Benham, who teaches at Lincoln Middle School. (203) 317-2279 Twitter: @KPrimicerioRJ

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