CT to seek waiver to avoid double testing

HARTFORD — Three weeks after U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced that states could seek flexibility next year to avoid having to take both existing standardized tests and a new one that will be piloted in a number of school districts nationwide, Gov. Dannel Malloy is saying “yes, please.”

Malloy announced Wednesday morning his intention to seek permission to provide school districts testing flexibility. Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor indicated as much as soon as the flexibility offer was announced.

The request is to allow districts the option of adminstering a new “Smater Balanced” online assessment that is aligned to the new Common Core curriculum that is being rolled out across the state or stick with the standard Connecticut Mastery Test and Connecticut Academic Placement Tests one more time. Those tests will be replaced by the new test in 2014-15.

Malloy is also asking that districts have the option to not state test data in teacher evaluations for the 2013-14 school year.

 “We are entering a new era in public education, one where we help struggling schools improve to the benefit of every child that attends them,” said Malloy from a prepared statement at a meeting of the Performance Evaluation Advisory Council (PEAC), which helped design a new teacher evaluation system.

 Malloy called the request a matter of fairness.

 “In the upcoming school year, as districts begin transitioning to new student assessments aligned to the Common Core State Standards, they will be in need of new flexibility in the way they implement their educator evaluation system.” said Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor. “Allowing districts this flexibility will enable us to support teachers as they shift their instruction and prepare their students for the Common Core. We’re pleased that providing such flexibility will not require changes to the rollout schedule for the evaluation system, which will remain on track and on timeline.”

 Shelia Cohen, president of the Connecticut Education Association, the state’s largest teacher’s union, said she was pleased with the announcement.

“Never before have teachers been confronted with so much change all at once. While our front-line educators have stepped up to the challenge, we have consistently cautioned that Connecticut must get reform done right,” said Cohen.

 Also happy are officials from the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education, as well as the association that represents school superintendents.

Linda Lambeck