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Reports from Policy Analysts

Connecticut Continues to Refine Teacher Evaluations

Submitted On: Sunday, May 4, 2014

Analyst: Sosnowski, Catherine

After the stunning late winter announcement rolling back the number of formal observations for tenured teachers, Connecticut’ Performance Evaluation Advisory Council (PEAC) continues to revise and refine the System for Educator Evaluation and Development (SEED). In March, PEAC and the state board of education released a streamlined revision of the Rubric for Effective Teaching. This revision reduced the domains used for evaluation from six – Praxis II, classroom environment, planning, instruction, assessment, and professional responsibility - to four. The latest iteration embeds assessment into the remaining four domains. It also removes the Praxis II measure of content knowledge as a silent domain.

The revision further clarifies confusion on literacy. Instead of a blanket statement on literacy across the content areas, the revision specifically seeks information on the use of literacy strategies that promote learning in the specific content area. In addition the embedded references to the Common Core have been replaced with the key instructional shifts required by the Common Core. These are clearly part of the revised rubric. The new rubric also includes footnotes on key terminology to ensure shared understanding. These changes will make the rubric a clearer tool to use. As this new rubric will go into effect next year, evaluators and teachers will have time to review and discuss it prior to using it.

These revisions may be linked to recommendations provided by the University of Connecticut’s Neag School of Education SEED Pilot Implementation Study published on January 1, 2014. This study noted that, given the requirements of SEED, evaluators mainly functioned in task completion mode. The rich conversations hoped for between evaluator and teacher were limited not only by time constraints but by the evaluator’s knowledge. The study highlighted a need to build the skills of evaluators. This is critical in the areas of the Common Core in general and literacy specifically, given their prominent role in the evaluation process.

Last week PEAC continued its revision bombshells. PEAC announced it is recommending SEED move away from the use of a single standardized test as the sole measure of a teacher’s effectiveness in favor of using more measures to show growth over time. This change will be discussed and voted on at the May 7th meeting of the state board of education. If approved, this change will go into effect for the 2014-2015 school year. In a conference call with superintendents last week, Commissioner Stephan Pryor, head of the Connecticut State Department of Education, cautioned all that this would not be the last of the revisions. Connecticut it seems will continue to revise until it gets it right. (The Neag SEED Pilot Implementation Study as well as the old Rubric for Effective Teaching may be found at .)

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