OLR Bill Analysis

sSB 1097

AN ACT CONCERNING REVISIONS TO THE EDUCATION REFORM ACT OF 2012.

SUMMARY:

This bill makes many substantive and procedural changes to teacher evaluation provisions of the 2012 Education Reform Act (PA 12-116). Among other things, it:

1. requires the new teacher evaluation program for each school district to be adopted through mutual agreement between the local board of education and the local professional development and evaluation committee;

2. specifies the steps for adopting a program if the parties cannot agree on one;

3. specifies the dates for completing evaluation training before teachers are evaluated under the new program;

4. deletes a requirement that the UConn's Neag School of Education's report on the teacher evaluation pilot program include recommendations on possible changes to the evaluation; and

5. deletes a requirement that the State Board of Education (SBE) validate the evaluation guidelines after it receives the Neag report on the pilot.

It makes other changes, including:

1. extending deadlines for new reading assessments, intensive reading instruction program, intensive reading strategy, and selection of low-performing elementary schools to participate in the intensive reading program;

2. requiring all K-3 reading teachers to take a survey, rather than a test, on reading instruction and to use the survey results to provide professional development for individual teachers; and

3. modifying what schools get preference for selection in the education commissioner's network of schools, which is aimed at improving student achievement in low performing schools.

The bill also makes technical and conforming changes.

EFFECTIVE DATE: various, see each section.

1 — STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION APPROVAL OF NEW TEACHER EVALUATION PROGRAM

By law, the SBE, in consultation with the Performance Evaluation Advisory Council (PEAC), had to adopt guidelines for a model teacher evaluation and support program by July 1, 2012. The bill explicitly requires the adoption of a model that is consistent with the guidelines, by July 1, 2013.

By law the guidelines must provide for teacher ratings in four groups (exemplary, proficient, developing, and below standard); a scoring system to determine the ratings; and periodic training on the evaluation program for teachers and administrators, among many other items. Teacher evaluation programs used by local school districts must be consistent with the state's model.

The bill eliminates a requirement that the SBE validate the guidelines after (1) the completion of the teacher evaluation pilot program that is ongoing for the current school year and (2) receipt of a study by UConn's Neag School of Education of that pilot required by law (see 7 for more on the Neag study).

Implementation Plan

By July 1, 2013, the bill requires SBE to adopt, in consultation with PEAC, a teacher evaluation and support program implementation plan. The plan must permit school districts to phase in full implementation of new teacher evaluation and support programs, during the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years. By law, school districts must implement the new evaluation program by September 1, 2013.

1 — LOCAL APPROVAL OF NEW EVALUATION PROGRAM

The bill modifies the steps that school district superintendents and local and regional school boards must take to adopt and implement the new teacher evaluation programs at the school district level.

By law, the boards must develop the new evaluation program by September 1, 2013 and it must be consistent with (1) the SBE adopted guidelines for the evaluation and support program and (2) the professional development plan developed by the district professional development committee. The bill requires boards to adopt rather than develop the plan. It additionally requires that the program be developed through mutual agreement with the district professional development committee by September 1, 2013 (see below for steps to be taken when there is no mutual agreement). The bill also changes the committee's name to the professional development and evaluation committee.

By law, superintendents of each local or regional board of education must annually evaluate each teacher. The evaluation must be consistent with the SBE-adopted evaluation guidelines and other guidelines as may be established by mutual agreement between the board the teachers union. The bill deletes the provision about other guidelines and replaces it with the same criteria that exist for the boards regarding the new evaluation. It requires that, in addition to being consistent with the SBE adopted guidelines, they must be (1) consistent with the professional development plan developed by the district professional development and evaluation committee, and (2) developed through mutual agreement with the district professional development committee. The bill requires these evaluations to begin with the 2013-14 school year and each following year.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

1 & 2 — DISTRICT PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEES

The bill provides a multi-step process for situations when a board of education and the professional development and evaluation committee cannot agree on the new teacher evaluation program, with the final authority resting with the board. By law, the district professional development committee is charged with developing, evaluating, and annually updating the professional development plan for teachers and other certified staff in a school district.

The bill changes this committee's name to include teacher evaluation and requires the committees to participate in the development of the teacher evaluation and support program for the district.

The bill requires the following steps if the board and committee cannot agree on the new evaluation program:

1. The parties must consider adopting by mutual agreement the SDE adopted model teacher evaluation and support program without any modifications.

2. If the two parties fail to agree on the SDE model, the board has the authority to adopt and implement a teacher evaluation program that it chooses as long as it is consistent with the (a) evaluation guidelines SBE adopts under the bill and (b) professional development plan drawn up by the committee.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

3 — PEAC

Under current law, PEAC is responsible for helping the SBE develop and implement teacher evaluation guidelines. The bill instead requires PEAC to help SBE develop guidelines for a model evaluation and support program. It adds the requirement that PEAC helps SBE develop evaluation and support program implementation standards, as required under the bill.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

4-6 & 9 — CONFORMING CHANGES

These sections make conforming and technical changes.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2014 and upon passage.

7 — NEAG STUDY OF PILOT PROGRAM

By law, the UConn's Neag School of Education is required to study the implementation of the teacher evaluation pilot program now underway in selected school districts. The study must, among other things, analyze and evaluate the pilot program's implementation for each participating district and compare each district's evaluation program to the SBE guidelines. The study must be submitted to the SBE and the Education Committee by January 1, 2014.

The bill eliminates the language permitting the study to include recommendations concerning the validation of the evaluation program guidelines that SBE must adopt.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

8 — EVALUATOR TRAINING BEFORE IMPLEMENTING EVALUATION

Under current law, school boards have to provide training for all evaluators and orientation to all of their teachers on the evaluation program before implementing it, but no later than July 1, 2014. The bill moves up the deadline for this training and orientation to the school year beginning July 1, 2013.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

10 — CHARTER SCHOOL GRANT PAYMENT DATES

The bill changes the statutory deadline by which the state must make its last per-student grant payment to state or local charter schools. It requires the state to make the last of three required payments to the towns by April 1, rather than April 15. The last payment equals 50% of the per-student grant to the charters. The towns then pay the charter schools.

The payment deadline changes apply to annual per-student grants to (1) state charter schools of $11,000 for FY 14, and $11,500 for FY 15 and thereafter and (2) qualifying local charter schools of up to $3,000 starting in FY 14. (Currently no local charters are in the state.)

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2013

11 — SDE STUDY ON THE TEACHER TRAINING AND MISIDENTIFICATION OF STUDENTS FOR SPECIAL EDUCATION

By law, SDE must study the plans and strategies used by school districts to reduce their disproportionately and inappropriately identifying minority students as requiring special education due to reading deficiencies. The law also requires SDE to examine the correlation between improvements in teacher training in the science of reading and the reduction in misidentification of students requiring special education services. The bill requires SDE to examine the “association” rather than the “correlation” between teacher training improvements and reduced misidentification.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2013

12 & 13 — DATE CHANGES FOR READING INITATIVES

The bill extends several deadlines regarding new reading assessments, intensive reading instruction program, intensive reading strategy, and selection of low-performing elementary schools to participate in the intensive reading program. Table 1 below presents the date changes.

Table 1: Date Changes for Reading Program Deadlines

Bill Section

Requirement

Current Law

Bill

12

SDE must develop or approve new reading assessments for local school boards to identify K-3 students who are below proficiency in reading

2013-14 school year

2014-15 school year

13

Education commissioner must create an intensive reading instruction program for K-3 students

2012-13 school year

2014-15 school year

13

Commissioner must select five low-performing elementary schools to participate in the intensive reading instruction program

2012-13 school year

2014-15 school year

13

Commissioner must select five additional low-performing elementary schools to participate in the intensive reading instruction program

2013-14 school year, and each following year

2015-16 school year, and each following year

13

SDE must develop an intensive reading instruction strategy for use by the low-performing schools the commissioner selects

By July 1, 2012

By July 1, 2014

The bill also makes a conforming change that low-performing schools selected to be part of the intensive reading instruction program have to provide supplemental reading instruction to K-3 students reading below proficiency. Under the bill, the supplemental instruction must be provided starting with the 2014-15 school year, rather than the 2012-13 school year.

Similarly, it extends the deadline by which SDE must report on the intensive reading instruction program from October 1, 2013 to October 1, 2015.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2013

14 — READING INSTRUCTION SURVEY FOR ELEMENTARY TEACHERS

Current law requires, beginning July 1, 2014, and each following school year, all local and regional boards of education to require their K-3 teachers to take a practice version of the reading instruction examination approved by SBE on April 1, 2009. The bill instead requires these employees to take a survey on reading instruction based on the reading instruction exam. The survey must protect the anonymity of the teacher, except the results will be used in developing the professional development plans for the individual teacher and for the teacher's school. The professional development will be done at no cost to the teacher.

The results of the survey will be aggregated at the grade, school, and district level and used in the provision of professional development in scientifically-based reading research and instruction. The survey results are exempted from the Freedom of Information Act.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2013

15 — STATEWIDE READING POLICY

The bill delays, from July 1, 2013 to January 1, 2014, the deadline for SDE to develop a coordinated statewide reading plan for K-3 students that includes strategies that are research driven to produce effective instruction and improvement in student reading performance.

By law this plan must contain a number of items, including (1) the alignment of reading standards, instruction, and assessments for K-3 students and (2) an intervention for each student not making adequate progress in reading to help the student read at the appropriate grade level. The bill adds to the requirement that literacy training for early childhood care and education providers and instructors working with children age birth to five years must include transition plans relating to oral language and preliteracy proficiency for children between prekindergarten and kindergarten.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2013

16 & 17 — SPECIAL EDUCATION AND REMEDIAL READING ENDORSEMENTS

Under current law, starting July 1, 2013, certified teachers with comprehensive special education or remedial reading and language arts endorsements must pass the reading instruction test approved by SBE on April 1, 2009. The bill limits this provision to applicants for initial educator certificates and changes the date it takes effect to September 1, 2013. This means certified teachers who hold these endorsements before the new date do not have to take and pass the exam. The bill also extends the reading endorsement requirement to cover applicants' initial educator certification for reading consultant endorsements.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

18 — COMMISSIONER'S NETWORK SCHOOLS

PA 12-116 created the commissioner's network of schools as a means for the state to intervene in low-performing schools to attempt to raise their student achievement through school turnaround plans and greater state assistance. The law set the parameters for the program and how the commissioner would select schools to participate. It required the commissioner to give preference to schools that volunteered to participate or that had union contracts that were to expire before the turnaround plan would be implemented. The bill adds to the preference list any school that is located in a district with experience in school turnaround reform or previously received a federal school improvement grant (which were only given to schools that agreed to implement a turnaround plan).

EFFECTIVE DATE: Upon passage

19 — ALLIANCE DISTRICT AND READING INSTRUCTION

PA 12-116 created the category of Alliance Districts, which are the state's 30 lowest performing school districts based on a performance index. The districts had to apply for additional funding and state approval for the funds was based on the district's application.

By law the applications must address a number of objectives. The bill specifies the objective to strengthen reading must be accomplished through the intensive reading instruction program created under PA 12-116 and modified in the bill. (It is not clear how applications can address using the reading instruction program that is yet to be created and the bill extends the deadline for the program's completion by a year (see 13)).

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2013

COMMITTEE ACTION

Education Committee

Joint Favorable Substitute

Yea

26

Nay

2

(03/28/2013)