CHAIRMEN: Senator Stillman, Rep. Fleischmann


SENATORS: Bartolomeo, Boucher, Bye, Linares, Maynard

REPRESENTATIVES: Ackert, Bolinsky, Carpino, Conroy, Cook, D'Agostino, Davis, Demicco, Genga, Giuliano, Grogins, Hampton, Johnson, Kiner, Kokoruda, Lamar, Lavielle, LeGeyt, McCrory, Miller, Molgano, Nafis, Rojas, Sanchez, Srinivasan, Stallworth, Walker

REP. FLEISHMANN: Good afternoon and welcome to this public hearing of the Education Committee. As you've noted if you're in the room or if you've seen the list, we have a lot of people who've signed up to testify today. So the Capital Police have arranged an overflow room, 2A which is going to have both video and audio of everything happening in this room. If you do not have a seat, Capital Police have requested that you head up to 2A and sit there to listen until your name is called on the list.

I also want to observe -- this committee is going to be following its tradition of three minutes permitted for each person to testify, not just members of the public, but public officials as well. And I and my Co-Chair are going to ask members of the committee, out of respect for the public, to be as concise as possible in questions and members of the public, if you could be concise and clear in your answers, that will allow others who signed up to also have their chance to make their opinions heard. Madame Co-Chair, have you other remarks you'd like to offer?

REP. STILLMAN: Thank you very much. First of all, I want to welcome everyone here today. We have a variety of bills that are being heard. I know -- I would venture to guess that 80 percent of the people in this room are here about the two Common Core bills. But the reality is this committee deals with a variety of topics and so you will all hear testimony on a variety of other topics that the committee is working on. So we'll give those of you who've never been here before an opportunity to hear about what other issues the Education Committee is dealing with this year.

As a reminder, we would like you to not block the doorways, that's a fire hazard and we certainly don't want anyone to be hurt today in case there is an untoward incident. Also, would you kindly turn your cell phones off or on vibrate because that is a rule that we do not want the cell phones on.

For people who are testifying, for members who might not remember because we all get so busy, when you have finished speaking, would you kindly turn your microphone off so that the other mic -- the microphone can then be turned on by the person who is responding to your question because we don't want any feedback in the microphone system; that really hurts your ears.

With that we will conduct -- this is the way we conduct any other public hearing, respectfully and understanding that there are a lot of people today who want to testify. This is only part of it, just so you understand the volume of testimony that we will be receiving today. For those people who have not brought testimony but would like to submit something, it's not too late. You can always send it in via electronic sources. So we will be here as long as there are people here who wish to testify today. With that Mr. Co-Chair.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you. The Ranking Members have let me know that they have brief remarks that they'd like to offer as we get under way. Senator Boucher to be followed by Representative Ackert.

SENATOR BOUCHER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to give my thanks to everyone that took the time and trouble to be here in person and to the many that have provided testimony and also to the Republican House members for helping us achieve what we should have always had and that is a public airing of this very important educational initiative that has widespread influence over our education system. So again, I thank everyone for taking the time and trouble to be here and look forward to your remarks very much.

REP. ACKERT: Thank you to the Chairs. Just quickly, I just want to make sure that everyone understands that you get your three minutes and I do appreciate what the Chair said, but let's also have them be able to -- us be able to hear them, so keep the comments to outside in the halls or something along that line. Everybody might not be in the same side of this issue, but please, it's up to us to listen and to take that with us for continuing legislation. So, please be courteous to the speakers out there and I thank you for the opportunity and I thank you for coming.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you, Representative Ackert and those last words are really well heard. Politeness to all whether you agree or disagree with them completely, is valued. With that we go to Commissioner Stefan Pryor, the State's Commissioner of Education to be followed by Allan Taylor, Chair of the State Board of Education. Welcome. The floor is yours, Commissioner.

STEFAN PRYOR: Good afternoon, Chairs, Ranking Members and honorable members of this committee. The debate about the Common Core in Connecticut should be about how best to prepare for the future by moving forward, rather than how to defend the past while moving backward. Today we should be finding new and better ways to help our Districts, schools, teachers and students, with the transition to the new standards, not prohibiting the state from providing assistance precisely when such support is needed. You've heard me speak to some statistics. I want to return to some of those stats, members of this committee.

Looking at our colleges, over 70 percent of the state's community college students require remediation at this point in time, as well as nearly 20 percent of students entering the board of regent state universities. They require remediation when they arrive at college. Those are youngsters who are making the decision to pursue college and are getting there. Higher college aligned standards can better prepare our current students for their futures in college and help leave behind the past of students and families going into debt just to receive remediation.

Now, how about the career front? What about the work place? Two thirds of Connecticut businesses surveyed who indicate that they are seeking new employees, report that they are having trouble finding qualified workers for their businesses. Now, while not every job requires that a worker be a college graduate, the jobs of the future will in fact require increased preparation. By 2020 it's estimated that 70 percent of Connecticut's jobs will require postsecondary education.

Now let's look at our academic frameworks and academic standards of the past. Of the Connecticut frameworks were adopted in 1998. The Connecticut Mastery test was first developed even earlier in 1985. They haven't been doing the job and we need to move past them, we need to express our gratitude to them for having set our path, but we need to build upon them and move forward into the Common Core era.

We're doing everything we can to provide the flexibility, lower the stakes in a variety of ways and we're providing new supports for our educators as they reach for these standards. Flexibility including the flexibility to opt in or opt out of the new assessments this year; no connection to high school graduation requirements; no school classifications in the accountability system for our state, that take into account these new assessments that are aligned with the Common Core.

To conclude, honorable members of this committee, as our young people consider their goals and aspirations for the future, they seek to meet the requirements of the colleges and the work places they'll be entering. What will we do to help them? Will we shirk our responsibility, defensively holding onto the past and refusing to embrace the future? Or instead, will we provide the supports and the flexibility that our educators need and that our youngsters need to succeed in the new Common Core era. Thank you.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you, Commissioner for that testimony and that helpful historical context. Are there questions from members of the committee? Senator Stillman.

SENATOR STILLMAN: Thank you. Again, welcome Commissioner. In your testimony you have also referred to some other bills that are in front of us. If I may, one of them which is an issue that was before this committee last year, the state education resource center. I'd appreciate it if you could comment on that bill as well as the paraprofessional staffing levels.

STEFAN PRYOR: Absolutely. Thank you, Madame Chair. First on the SERC bill, the General Assembly in the last session, received a proposal from the State Department of Education and also contemplated its own proposal regarding the conversion of SERC into a quasi-public entity that would be fully compliant and require to be with a state bidding rules, FOI and other key elements of state statute.

We proactively presented that proposal to this committee and to the General Assembly. You incorporated some of those requirements but asked myself and my team to present the General Assembly with a report on the subject. We've since done so and we've analyzed the subject once again.

We reaffirm our position that SERC ought to become a proper quasi-public agency with all of the requirements that follow to ensure transparency, to ensure that procurement rules are followed, to ensure that we're all comfortable with its operation going forward so it can continue its good work on behalf of educators and students. So we share the view that that should be considered and if you deem appropriate, passed during this session. There is more information in my report, Madame Chair, to the General Assembly. I'd be happy to answer any further questions.

On the issue of the paraprofessional's task force, the proposal is for a task force that would look at the capacity for and the need for paraprofessionals in our system. Paraprofessionals or para-educators are essential professionals within our teams at the school level. They compliment teachers and they serve critical roles in classrooms across our state. We would welcome the creating of this task force and we think it's important. The only notation we would offer in addition, Madame Chair, is that there is a paraprofessional's council that already exists. We would request coordination with it and we would be happy to support its activity.

SENATOR STILLMAN: Thank you, Commissioner. I appreciate your input. It is briefly mentioned in your testimony, your comments about that as well as one other bill. So, am I to understand that the SERC bill, the state education resources center bill for the most part, you're supporting?

STEFAN PRYOR: We would be willing to support it verbatim, Madame Chair. There are a couple of tweaks that in my March first submitted revised report per statute, that was the cycle required submission for early March, we recommended a couple of tweaks from last year's version that are a few sentences aimed at tightening up the provisions that we share as important. But I'll say, even verbatim I think it's a vast improvement over the status quo and we would support the existing bill and we'd be happy to dialogue around those few sentences.

SENATOR STILLMAN: Thank you, sir.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you, Senator. Representative Ackert.

REP. ACKERT: Thank you, Mr. Chairman and good to see you again and thank you for your testimony and we've got to hear from you on it before, so I have no questions for you on those. Thank you for your report, by the way, on SERC. It was concise and I appreciate that. My question is for -- another bill you did is 5520, AN ACT CONCERNING THE AVAILABILITY OF AN ON-LINE STUDY SKILLS CURRICULUM, and you talk about being a burden -- additional overburden. That's kind of involuntary isn't it for the Districts if they -- I know that the State Department of Education would have to develop that, I believe, that processes if I'm not correct and then be available to Districts, but you had mentioned it being overburdened. Is it for the Districts or for your office, sir?

STEFAN PRYOR: It is for the Districts that we've been expressing this concern and Representative, if there's an interest in the SDE playing a more active role to lessen the burden, we can have a dialogue about that. What I'm concerned about, and Representative Ackert, I've heard you share this concern and express it. This is a moment of multiple burden of compound burden for Districts. Even good ideas in some instances ought to wait until Districts can work through the requirements of a Common Core and evaluation, and school turnaround and their own initiatives. That's the reasoning.

REP. ACKERT: Great. Thank you, Commissioner. I appreciate your answers and thank you for being here.

STEFAN PRYOR: Thank you, sir.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you, Representative Ackert. I will pose two brief questions to be followed by Senator Boucher to be followed by Representative Giuliano. First, on the state education resource center, there are some who have come to members of this committee who have said the record of quasi-publics in this state is not good and having the resource center become a non-profit seems like a safer path in some ways than creating another quasi-public that may head off in an unintended direction. I'd like to give you a chance to respond to that concern.

STEFAN PRYOR: Sure, I'd be happy to. We would welcome any structure that offers optimal accountability, transparency, and adherence with state law. Our feeling was brining the entity closer to state government rather than keeping it further away was the better idea. A non-profit exists more independently of state law by virtue of its corporate structure so we felt like a quasi-public governmental entity was a better idea.

There already was some confusion around SERC's legal status and whether because it had a fiduciary entity which was a non-profit, a university in fact, serving as it's umbrella, there already was some confusion around SERC in that era where there was that non-profit fiduciary entity even though SERC's own status was ambiguous. So we felt it was more clarifying and it was more in accordance with all of our wishes, mine certainly included, that we establish real clarity and therefore we established it in our proposal as a quasi-public.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you. That's helpful. The other brief question, I didn't fully understand your response to Representative Ackert's question. The bill that he referred to, 5520, would essentially ask the state department to create a curriculum that would be available to Districts on an as demanded basis. So, a District that wanted to use this for children who were having trouble with their study skills could and another District that felt they already had that area covered could chose not to avail themselves of the option. So why would we not want to make this additional supplementary skill set and curriculum available to Districts that might see it as a necessity?

STEFAN PRYOR: I'd be happy to look anew at the legislation itself. If there is no requirement whatsoever upon Districts, it may be worthwhile for us to have further dialogue. I'll be happy to take a closer look, Mr. Chairman and Representative Ackert.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you. That's very helpful. Senator Boucher.

SENATOR BOUCHER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman and thank you, Commissioner, for being here. I'm going to be very quick and brief and concise, only two areas of concern. One is on content of Common Core. There seems to be very good consensus that everyone wants higher standards, we want to be able to compete better. However, there's some controversy about the differentiation between setting a standard versus the content of material, there's some controversy about content and whether it's appropriate and whether or not this is all being given and provided by Pearson Publishing or just one content provider, number one.

Number two is that too many schools are implementing this, this year before many of the teachers and/or students had any exposure whatsoever to a particular curriculum and that test that they're being tested on is based on content that they never even saw causing a great deal of stress and a feeling of failure that is not appropriate because in fact they never got the material that is being tested on. Those test scores will be very low causing a lot of disruption, in fact, could cause concern for years to come for those students. In other words, implementation and roll out is more the issue of this and also then teachers are being then graded themselves on the performance of content that was never really seen before. So how would you address both of those concerns that are out there?

STEFAN PRYOR: Thank you for offering the opportunity to clarify on both points. On the first point, I think much of what you described, though it's very important that we address it, is a mythology around the Common Core set of standards versus any kind of curriculum that's developed. So let me try to debunk that myth.

The Common Core is a set of standards. In no way is there a prescribed curriculum that defines the content of every lesson, that offers a script to teachers that's required that's going to be enforced across our state -- far from it. It's actually, the opposite. The Common Core state standards are a broad set of standards. Now they are fewer and clearer and they're higher which we think will lead to better outcomes and we think is the right way to go, but teachers will really have the chance within this broad set of standards to innovate at the classroom level.

Districts are the ones that are developing the curriculum, the content that you described. And if they're seeking one vendor or another, you mentioned Pearson, they're under no obligation to seek one or another in their own curriculum development, none whatsoever, in actually fulfilling the standards. So that's an important myth that we need to debunk together and I thank you for the opportunity. And one of the things that we were grateful to the Governor for in creating the new Common Core implementation task force which is constituted of educators and stakeholders, is that that task force will have the chance to look at the curricular materials that have been developed so far.

Trade best practices across District lines talk about the ways in which supports can complement those curricular frameworks, those curricular units, those lesson plans, that have been developed at the District level. So, that's very important.

Your second question, Senator, is about the anxiety level and this is a point that I aim to touch upon quickly in my opening remarks, but let me expand briefly upon them. In the flexible arrangement that we've set forth regarding the connection between testing and any kind of stakes, it won't be for six years following the adoption of the Common Core frameworks, the Common Core standards which was in 2010, that any stakes will attach. It will be a full half dozen years of activity that will have occurred and will be occurring all the way through the 2015/16 academic year before, in a sense, the tests count. Let me explain myself.

So, first of all as pertains to teacher evaluation and administrator evaluation, very understandably, very understandably, teachers and administrators have expressed anxiety that the test scores that would be issued from the Smarter Balanced assessments that are aligned with the Common Core, would also be tied to the educator evaluation system. Taking those very justified concerns into account, for two years in a row we're not going to link those test results to teach evaluation or administrator evaluation. It's an extension of the east in period of the transition period regarding the Common Core.

As pertains to school classifications, the different categories that schools fall into and we look to see how much support, how many resources ought to be poured into a school, those accountability categories will be frozen, they'll be retained during the remainder of this transition period. Graduation requirements are not tied to the Smarter Balance assessments at the state level.

The goal is to lower anxiety and to heighten support for our educators and for our youngsters and we think that this six year period that we provided should be utilized for those purposes, for the purposes of continuing to tailor support and resources. That's another of the purposes of the Governor's task force, to enable the task force to think about where different Districts are in their process, how far along they've come in their curriculum development and for that matter, in professional development and help the state figure out how to build upon our network of already 1,500 Common Core coaches across the state that we've trained in our training. Our new website,, which is a set of resources for educators and parents. So, we're going to be building upon that during this transition period. Thank you, Senator.

SENATOR BOUCHER: Thank you. It does beg the question, why not just have phased it in at the elementary level and let it move forward through instead of throwing it at 7th, 8th, 9th graders when they've had not preparation before. That's the ultimate question.

STEFAN PRYOR: Well, if I can respond to that, Mr. Chair, Madame Chair?

REP. FLEISHMANN: Concisely, please.

STEFAN PRYOR: I will. You know, the problem is that our youngsters who are in high school, for example, are graduating and aiming for college and career. They don't have a second shot at that. It's important that we step it up and offer the supports and the kind of academic rigor that they need as soon as we can. Now, the stakes on these tests are deliberately low and we're aiming to lower anxiety in the overall environment that student's will be learning in through the measures that I've just described. But, these students can't wait for us to catch up. We need to do our best to provide the superior education that they will require in college and the workplace.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you both. Representative Giuliano to be followed by Representative Lavielle.

REP. GIULIANO: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Good afternoon, Commissioner.

STEFAN PRYOR: Good afternoon. Nice to see you, Representative.

REP. GIULIANO: Nice to see you as well. Thank you for your testimony. I have one quick question. Commissioner, were alliance school District school superintendants told by you in a recent conference call that their support of pausing the Common Core state standards, HB 5078, one of the bills under discussion today, that that support for HB 5078 would lead to financial penalties for the alliance school Districts?

STEFAN PRYOR: In no way, shape or form and Representative, I don't know where that question arises from, but I will tell you that I have had conversations with a number of superintendant groups and in no way would I personally tie anything to anything else in the fashion you described. Now, having said that, I would have a question for the bill's maker at some point, it doesn't have to be today, about the fact that there is a moratorium on the spending of resources to prepare for the Common Core. That's something I'm aiming to defend against.

I'm trying to help all Districts, including alliance Districts continue to receive the resources they need. That's my whole purpose; I think I've made that clear in every conversation -- I'm quite confident that I've made that clear in every conversation that I've ever had. So that's a very peculiar question, but if you're hearing those things, Representative, I'm always willing to respond to it, but that's a very odd way of construing any conversation that we may have had.

REP. GIULIANO: Thank you, Commissioner. I appreciate your comments. I understand that there is a fiscal note regarding the financial roll out of the Common Core state standards. If there were to be a moratorium, this of course, the question that I posed was specifically directed toward alliance school Districts, so I don't wish that those listening or viewing this would have any confusion about that. Thank you, Commissioner. Thank you, Madame.

REP. FLEISHMANN: thank you, Representative Giuliano. Representative Lavielle.

REP. LAVIELLE: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Good morning -- good afternoon, Commissioner.

STEFAN PRYOR: Good afternoon. Nice to see you, Representative.

REP. LAVIELLE: Thank you for being with us. I will go with a quick question because we really are here to hear from the public that have been so good to come out today. But this is a question I think only you can answer. I have had numerous requests from constituents, some of the others have as well, who are whether you agree with them or don't agree with them and that's not really the question, who are interested in having their children opt out of taking the tests and they have received responses either from the State Department of Education or from their school administrations telling them that the school is required to administer the test. But nowhere is anyone able to find a reference to whether parents are allowed to do that or not. So I guess the question is not so much is are they allowed, but if they do, what are the consequences and I wonder if you could speak to that for us?

STEFAN PRYOR: I'd be happy to. The first thing I think is important to say, Representative, is that the preparation of our youngsters for college and career, is the goal here. And what we ought to be doing is offering explanation about the necessity of this move towards the Common Core, why these high standards are important and why we're introducing these new assessments on an optional basis to school Districts. They may opt in or opt out of Smarter Balance and in a low stakes environment so that there ought to be lower anxiety around the taking of the tests.

So I think it's important to begin with that; that the anxiety ought to be low. The tests essentially don't count for the key purposes that they've counted for historically. And we need to provide for experiences for youngsters and educators to engage with the new assessments as they engage with the standards as a whole. There is no provision in federal law and there is not provision in state law for opting out of the tests. Whether Districts need to be as caring as they can in looking at specific scenarios that parents present, that youngsters present, that's a question for Districts to contemplate.

The federal government requires a 95 percent participation rate of every state regarding annual assessments. That's a provision that stems from No Child Left Behind and continues even in the era of the waivers from NCLB. So that's my set of responses for you, Representative.

REP. LAVIELLE: Well, thank you Commissioner. Just with all due respect, I'm not sure we have an answer yet because the -- it's clear that you are trying to create a low anxiety environment. Nevertheless for whatever reason and I won't make a judgment on that, there still appears to be a lot of anxiety. And with that anxiety comes the desire on the part of a lot of parents to choose not to have their children take the tests. So their question remains, is there a consequence for them or for their children if they do not take the test either now or forever? So is that a question -- I understand there's no provision in the law, the law does not require it, it does require the Districts to administer the tests, but what is the answer for these parents who want to know if there are consequences?

STEFAN PRYOR: Well consequences can be institutional and they can be individual. On the individual level, I don't believe that there's any specific provision in law regarding consequences. But on a District by District basis, there needs to be a conversation on that front as to whether there are policies that are not state based. To my knowledge, there are no state provisions that are specific or federal provisions that are specific to an individual parent or an individual student.

Having said that, there are broader consequences; the 95 percent participation rate which is a federal law, does exist and there have been cautions that have been presented to other states when they have flagrantly provided for policies that are contrary to that law or contemplated polices that are contrary to that law. Whether there would be funding consequences to Connecticut if we were to flagrantly establish an opt out procedure or some other consequence, I don't know the answer to that but I know that other states have been cautioned by the feds in the past around having explicit policies of this kind.

REP. LAVIELLE: But if I were to, as a Representative, respond to a constituent individually, there are no consequences for you or your child, would I be correct?

STEFAN PRYOR: I think I've answered that question by explaining that I don't believe there's an explicit provision in law at the federal or state level, but I can't answer for a school District. We are in a local control state where requirements are imposed at the local level and procedures exist at the local level. I believe that's precisely how I've answered the question.

REP. LAVIELLE: Thank you, Commissioner. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you. I would ask folks that are here from the public to please keep it down. We have a standard in the General Assembly that we are all here to listen to people give their testimony, not to offer side remarks. Representative Kokoruda.

REP. KOKORUDA: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Good afternoon, Commissioner.

STEFAN PRYOR: Good afternoon, Representative.

REP. KOKORUDA: In your testimony you talk about that you're -- and obviously we would expect you to, be working closely with the newly appointed task force for Common Core. Can you address concerns that I'm hearing in this building, I'm hearing in my District, that we're not hearing all voices on this task force with the appointees that it really is not balanced and that's a concern. Could you address that please?

STEFAN PRYOR: I'd be happy to. I'm not sure which imbalance someone might be describing in their perception. But what I would say is I'm very pleased with what the Governor has assembled in the way of a task force. It includes the array of education stakeholders that we ought to be hearing from. We've been making a big effort at the direction of the Governor and leadership of the General Assembly to flex our requirements in the evaluation system in response to feedback, to continuously reach out to teachers, to parents and to students.

But there's a need for more; there's a need for more feedback, there's a need for a forum for that purpose and that's why Governor Malloy has wisely created the task force. It's predominantly teachers and other educators. It includes superintendants and principals so their voices can be heard; it includes parents so parents' voices can be heard.

But I'd be very interested in hearing if there are concerns that you've heard specifically, Representative, about other voices or other groups because the task force is a body and in that sense is a forum for the dialogue, but there will no doubt be opportunities for the task force and certainly for the State Department of Education to have additional meetings, to receive other input and we would welcome that.

REP. KOKORUDA: To follow up, I think what the concern is and I agree with you, the stakeholders, I think it's been done very well with, a little light on parents, but I believe that there's just going to be two, but with teachers and principals. Superintendants, my real question is, do we have superintendents that don't embrace this on this task force? Are not embracing it -- obviously we have some that do and it is, it's a controversy. So we really want this controversy to be the focus of this task force, to settle it. So if you don't have a balanced view, if we only have one viewpoint of where this Common Core and SBAC test should be going, there's concern especially with the leaders, some of the school leaders that you put on these boards. So that's what I'm hearing, that's the concern.

STEFAN PRYOR: You know, I have to say, I'm not familiar with every individual who's on the task force. There are individuals definitively, a number of them, I don't know directly. So I couldn't say which points of view are in fact represented. In the instances that I know, I know there are diversities of points of view on the task force. I'm not sure if every single constituency is measured in that precise way. I couldn't say how in the final formulation that works.

But I think there is a diversity of opinion on the task force and I think even more importantly, the idea is to solicit input, to seek ideas, to look at best practices across different Districts, with different opinions and different levels of implementation and to understand what that diversity of opinion recommends and to take it into account in its work. So I'm confident that the task force will do that and will do it well.

REP. KOKORUDA: That certainly is our hope for this task force. Thank you, Commissioner.

STEFAN PRYOR: Thank you.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you, Representative Kokoruda. I have two additional members of the committee who have questions and I'd just like to remind committee members, we have 127 people waiting to testify after the Commissioner. So I would appreciate your considering having sidebar conversations with him. Representative Molgano.

REP. MOLGANO: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Good afternoon, Commissioner.

STEFAN PRYOR: Good afternoon.

REP. MOLGANO: Thank you for your testimony. Just a quick question, a follow up to Representative Lavielle's question on the anxiety of the parents and students. I'm hearing as you may expect, anxiety from students with disabilities, specifically visually impaired, hearing impaired. Can you please share with us what specific accommodations are being made to proctor this exam for those with those impairments?

STEFAN PRYOR: Absolutely. The administration of the Smarter Balance assessment is incorporated into the IEP for individuals who have one and the specific accommodations and requirements are built into the individual education plan so that any support or assistance that is required and is needed is in fact required. So in that sense it really parallels our practices of the past. Thank you, Representative.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Senator Linares.

SENATOR LINARES: Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you Commissioner for your testimony. You mentioned in your testimony that you've been working hard during this transition period to provide high support to Districts that are implementing Common Core and it's my understanding after speaking with administrators and teachers, that there is training -- funding for training at this time for Districts. And my question is, why wasn't -- it's my understanding that this funding was not available three years ago. So my question is why wasn't the funding available years ago when Districts were looking at implementing this curriculum.

STEFAN PRYOR: Thank you for the question, I appreciate it. My commissionership is only about three years old all together so I couldn't speak to the General Assembly appropriations that precede my arrival and what kinds of resources were provided or weren't.

What I can say is that we were the first administration and the first State Department of Education team to propose a line item for the Common Core, to ensure that beyond our routine academic supports which have been occurring and the department have been providing support to Districts, but beyond that there was a line item, $8.3 million to ensure that we had enhanced supports that were above and beyond the traditional level of activity that our SDE had undertaken.

So now we have over 1,500 Common Core coaches who are being trained to serve -- these are teachers in their schools, in their Districts who are serving as coaches and mentors to their peers. We have direct training that's going to be offered supplemental to what Districts are already doing to help add to the next. We have a teach fest that's being organized through an organization that's going to help teachers come together to develop curricular materials including lesson plans and units and others that can be shared across the state and we have a Common Core website that we've established for the first time, all derived from these new resources.

We've requested a new budgetary allocation, again a line item to specify that we're offering this intensified support. That's a $6.3 million figure in the biennial budget. We hope that the General Assembly will see fit to continue to support that amount that was passed in that biennial budget. Thank you.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Any other questions from members of the Committee? If not, thank you, Commissioner very much for your testimony and your work.

STEFAN PRYOR: Thank you to the Chairs and the members of this committee.

REP. FLEISHMAN: Speaking of Chairs, the Chairman of the State Board of Education, Allan Taylor is next on our list.

SENATOR STILLMAN: Excuse me, before Mr. Taylor speaks, I'd like to -- no, please sit down, sir -- I'd like to remind folks who are blocking the doorways that it is a fire hazard. We do have an overflow room, I believe its 2A, so if people are looking for a seat there is full audio in that room if you want to follow along or if you're waiting to deliver testimony, you can follow that as well. I also wanted folks who have not been at a public hearing before to understand that there are members of this committee who have other committee meetings going on at the same time or other commitments so there will be folks wondering in and out, so please don't take it personally. It's part of our job so we've got to juggle several meetings at one time. So I just wanted folks to understand how this process works which sometimes looks rude, but it is not. It is doing our jobs to make sure we get input on other committees that we work on. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you, Madame Chair. Chairman Taylor.

ALLAN TAYLOR: Thank you, Representative Fleishmann, Senator Stillman, members of the committee. I am here at the direction and with the strong support of my colleagues on the State Board to speak in opposition to bill number 5078. I thank you for the opportunity to speak with you today.

The members of the State Board oppose any delay in implementing the Common Core for one simple reason -- delay will harm Connecticut students. As a practical matter delay will hurt our students because both the SAT and the ACT are focusing on college readiness using the same understandings that inform the Common Core. Whether or not we stay with the Common Core and whether or not we prepare our students to those standards, their academic readiness will be measured against the Common Core's goals.

More fundamentally, delaying the Common Core means continuing with the English language arts and math standards in effect before we adopted the Common Core. The problem with that is that the Common Core standards which we adopted almost four years ago after almost a year of publicly noticed study while the standards went from rough draft to final product, are far superior to the standards that Connecticut had written for itself.

At your workshop last week you heard Dr. Gillis tell you that the prior Connecticut English language arts, ELA standards, were poorly done. She is right. Those standards deserved the scorn they received from the Fordham Foundation and it's not only the Fordham Foundation that didn't like those standards -- neither did the American Federation of Teachers. Our math standards, while comprehensible and therefore superior to the ELA standards, were also deemed not strong by the AFT and given a D by Fordham. With all respect, it makes no sense to return to the mediocrity of our prior standards by delaying implementation of the Common Core.

Why are the Common Core standards better? They are structured to build operational comfort with and conceptual Mastery of foundational concepts and skills, so that students can apply what they have learned to new situations. They aim at transferable knowledge not merely the ability to recall and regurgitate and so they require and allow our students to experience the pleasure of diving deeply into new knowledge. By recognizing that true literacy depends on broad background knowledge and emphasizing the promotion of literacy skills across the curriculum, they push back against the narrowing of the curriculum that has been one of the worst aspects of the last decade in education.

There is much more to say but I'm running out of time. M colleagues and I are convinced that as we move through the transition, the results will be deeply engaged students who are better prepared to meet their futures and schools that are more rewarding and more enjoyable for students and teachers alike. But we can't get through the transition if we turn back now because there are hills in the road. Please, don't make Connecticut go backwards. Thank you.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you for your testimony and your service. Just a very simple question, you were on the State Board when these Common Core curricular standards were adopted in 2010 as I recall?


REP. FLEISHMANN: Prior to January of this year, are you aware of either legislation or legislators who approached you or other members of the State Board raising concerns about the set of standards that you had adopted in 2010?

ALLAN TAYLOR: I personally am not.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Other questions from members of the committee? Representative Ackert.

REP. ACKERT: Thank you, Mr. Chairman and thank you for your testimony. You're passionate about this and I appreciate that. In 1985 I believe is when we created and I could be wrong a year with this Connecticut Mastery tests and throughout the years we have adjusted those to meet, I believe, a different level of standards and changing those and we had that flexibility if I'm not correct, is that true?

ALLAN TAYLOR: That's correct.

REP. ACKERT: So at any time, and I believe that arguably in 1985 they would probably consider some of the highest national standards in education. And at any time we could have raised the bar, implemented it in kindergarten, started teaching kids on computers. I had a teacher that I met, actually an administrator that I met in 2001 taught in Taiwan. In 2001 the kids were taking tests on the computer. So at any time from 1985 up until 2010 we had the ability, we weren't handcuffed, to make additional raises in the bar in assessment, go to computer testing, if I'm not correct?

ALLAN TAYLOR: I suppose we could have done that, yes.

REP. ACKERT: Thank you for your testimony and I truly appreciate it. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you, Representative. Other questions? Senator Stillman.

SENATOR STILLMAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman and welcome again, sir. It's always a pleasure to see you. One quick question, because you sort of alluded to it in your testimony and -- please turn off cell phones, thank you, it was a lovely tune but we appreciate it, thank you. Could you explain to us how Connecticut actually participated in adopting these Common Core standards if at all? Thank you.

ALLAN TAYLOR: Connecticut participated as I understand it, at the professional level through the Department of Education which was reviewing drafts, commenting on drafts and actively involved in that way and in doing that, as I understand it, the department itself recruited -- it wasn't just what the people who work at the department thought, they recruited teachers, professors, other people that they consult about professional standards and about the ideals of what's good in curriculums.

So we were participating in that way. The State Board obviously became aware of these before they were drafted or before they were done as this process started and through our national association, several of us when to various meetings at which we heard what was going on with the drafting and we heard how the process was working and what the plans were. So I can't tell you the names of people, we can certainly get that for you, but Connecticut was very aware that this was happening and was participating and supporting it.

SENATOR STILLMAN: So folks within the state who are in the teaching profession, did actively participate in putting together the Common Core standards?

ALLAN TAYLOR: At least in the indirect way that I described which was through the common thing, or through advice through the State Department of Education and then from there to the Common Core people who were putting it together.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you, Madame Chair. Senator Linares.

SENATOR LINARES: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you for your testimony. You mentioned the new standards and specifically really to ELA. One of the questions that I've heard from teachers and parents and also administrators in my District is it's my understanding that there will be new text in this curriculum and that there are Common Core text books and I just wanted to know how the State Board has chosen who's able to sell those textbooks and who decided that and why?

ALLAN TAYLOR: Connecticut, Senator, does not have state textbook approval and we hope that we never will, thank you -- happy to read about what goes on in Texas but not to have to deal with it in Connecticut. So we do not approve textbooks, we don't make those decisions. There are -- and one of the advantages of the Common Core, is that we can cooperate with each other. I was speaking with someone earlier this morning who told me about a 20 District effort to cooperate on putting together lesson plans and curricula. We can do more of that because we have this set of standards and we can do it around the country.

There are a number of consortia around the country who recognize that in a capitalist system get something new and everybody wants to plaster new and improved on the front of it and say it's really new and improved so that people will take their own text books and plaster Common Core consistent and try to sell them. So there are education departments and other organizations around the country that have been attempting to provide resources to sort through that sort of claim. But the direct answer to your question is, Connecticut is not -- the State of Connecticut, the Board of Education Department, do not approve or recommend particular textbooks.

SENATOR LINARES: Thank you for your answer, but do you have an idea of who made the decision on which textbooks will qualify for the Common Core curriculum and why?

ALLAN TAYLOR: Districts select, but as I said, these national efforts, I know Tennessee is leading one and I think there are a couple of others of coalitions of state where what they're trying to do is review the text and see whether they actually are consistent. I'll give you a quick example.

I heard a very amusing talk by someone who said that said, look if you're dealing with math, one of the things the math standards do and where they differ and are much stronger, I believe, from the typical prior state standard, certainly from our own state standards, is that they focus on fewer topics handled in more depth. Well then -- this particular speaker said, if you see a math textbook with 2,000 pages or 1,000 pages, no matter how big the print on it that says Common Core compliant, it isn't. It's that kind of guidance that is being provided. Are the texts selected, I would think at the appropriate levels to match up with what the Common Core suggest for the different grade levels?

Those are evaluations that local Districts can do for themselves or they can take advantage of the work that others have done and then confirm that work or not. I'm not sure I've answered your question because I'm not sure I understand it. I think the people who are looking at texts and trying to decide whether those are texts that would be wise to adopt, to implement the Common Core, are doing just that. They're looking whether the text provide useful materials in a way that's structured to be helpful to meet the standards that the texts are trying to address, the particular grade levels.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you both for that helpful exchange. Representative Carpino to be followed by Representative Bolinsky.

REP. CARPINO: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. My question rests with field testing. Has this been field tested in Connecticut and if so to what extent and if you could please be specific so that we can all understand?

ALLAN TAYLOR: There are certainly Districts who have been implementing or are ahead on the implementation. I'm not aware of any evaluations so I don't know if that counts as a field test. There are people who got started earlier and are in their second or third year. I hear they are mostly happy with what they are doing. But was there a field test of the Common Core in Connecticut with all the bells and whistles of a scientific study? Not that I'm aware of.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Representative Bolinsky to be followed by Senator McKinney.

ALLAN TAYLOR: If I may, I just want to add to that. There was also no field test when the State Board of Education adopted standards in 2005/6 or when the State Board adopted standards in 1995, there was the best professional advice available. The process that's been followed here is no different from the process that we've followed ever since Connecticut decided to have state standards.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you for that clarification. Representative Bolinsky.

REP. BOLINSKY: Thank you, Chairman Fleishmann. Chairman Taylor, I don't think that anybody in this room is going to contest the fact that higher standards are something that are a good thing. I think the reason we're all here and the reason that you see House Bill 5078 before you, is the lack of public process. Personally, I keep listening to testimony where I'm told that allegedly there was public involvement and there were teachers involved on one hand and on the other hand I speak to people at CEA that tell me that there were no Connecticut K through 12 teachers that participated in the drafting of the Core Standards.

So, you know, I'm not certain which end of this to believe. All I can see from my perspective is a very convoluted, inconsistent, wildly variable compliance rate from District to District to District and the intention of 5078 that's pretty simple actually; it's to slow things down so that we can all just sort of take inventory of it. It's not to squash higher standards.

Can you tell me definitively, not just by saying that you think that there were teachers involved, were there teachers, K through 12 and were there parents, the ultimate stakeholders by the way, people that are paying the taxes which pay for these programs, were there parents involved in the drafting process? Were there K through 12 teachers involved in the drafting process? Yes or no, please?

ALLAN TAYLOR: Representative, I thought I had made clear. So far as I know, I don't know if there were any Connecticut teachers on the national drafting committee. So far as I know there were not. People say there were not, I will accept that. What I said was that as the state gave feedback, there was consultation going on between the State Department of Education staff and people outside the department.

That's the way the department's subject specialist work. Now, is that -- and I think those two answers are not contradictory, there may be a somewhat different definition, no, nobody that I know of was directly involved in writing the standards at the national level. Two different questions, two different answers. It's no different -- well, no, it is different when we did our own standards, the ones that got panned so terribly, that was largely, I think there was an outside consultant or two, but that was largely home grown.

Parents, I don't know. We all tend to leave the standards to the professionals to a large degree, so no, I don't -- my guess is the answer to that question is no. But they are very good standards and that's the bottom line.

REP. BOLINSKY: Thank you very much, Chairman Taylor. I don't doubt that they're good standards. I just I believe in public process, I believe in an open government warrants that we check in with the people that are paying for this and that we as a State of Connecticut and I won't get into a long commentary, but if we have flawed standards and we've been living with them for 25 years without attempting to upgrade them, then shame on our Department of Education for that alone, but that's another issue all together. Public process is absolutely necessary and the stakeholders of children that are coming home traumatized are the parents. And regardless of whether or not we respect their professional credentials or not, they deserve a voice. So thank you very much.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you, Representative Bolinsky. Just a quick follow up clarification. It was my understanding that when the State Board of Education is going to adopt new standards or guidelines that you must allow a period for public comment and input. Is that not the case and if that is the case, wouldn't that mean that any parent or teacher or student who had a concern about something that was to come before the State Board of Ed would have an opportunity to provide testimony to you?

ALLAN TAYLOR: Thank you Chairman for that clarification. Of course that's true and we went through a very public process to adopt and if I may, I think Connecticut standards have improved in steps. And the 2005/2006 standards were an attempt to improve. I actually think we did improve on our math standards. I was on the board at the time of the adoption of the ELA standards as well and I think at that time had become Chair. I took advantage of my position of right to speak last to ask a lot of questions because I didn't understand the standards; I kept trying to make sense of them.

I think I wore out the patience of my colleagues on the Board finally and it went and it passed and I went along with it. I voted for them, I started kicking myself for that very shortly after the meeting and nine years later I'm still doing it. I've been voting on things for 30 years in various positions and that's the only vote that I still remember with embarrassment and deep regret. So, yeah, I'm not criticizing what's been done, I'm saying this is a way of helping us move much better, much further, much faster. And moving further and faster is difficult. But the effort is worth it.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Just a quick announcement. We had an overflow room of 2A, we also now have room 2D available for people who are looking for seating. Senator McKinney.

SENATOR McKINNEY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to thank the Chairs and the committee for the opportunity to participate as an ex-officio member under our Legislative rules and I hope that my issue can be answered in one question. That's the goal here. Mr. Taylor, thank you. I want to follow up, I think you were in the room when Commissioner Pryor was testifying before the committee and I want to follow up on a colloquy that Representative Lavielle had with the Commissioner because as I as a parent of an 8th grader who's going through this and as someone who listens to his constituents as we all do, what I'm hearing is not a concern about better standards for our kids to be better prepared and I don't think that's really been an issue for members of the Legislature, for teachers or parents.

What I'm hearing is a lot of concern, fear, anxiety, nervousness about all of the testing and how kids are being tested on a curriculum that they haven't been taught. I'm hearing that from teachers and I'm hearing that from parents and even from the students who are concerned. Now, some school Districts are three, four years into this. But many are not. I don't know what the answer is.

So that the real concern is that parents want to know why they can't get an answer from the state as to whether or not they can opt their child out of the tests and I want to know what your position is on that. As I read our law, this would not be, in my interpretation, considered a Mastery test, it's a different test and I think the Commissioner's answer was, there's nothing in our statutes. It's a local decision and I'd like to follow up and find out what your position is as Chairman of the State Board of Ed, whether or not parents have the right to opt their child out.

ALLAN TAYLOR: I think the answer is, as the Commissioner said, there is no law that says they can't, certainly no state law that says they can't. Therefore, residually, presumably, they have that right. What the local District chooses to do about that is the local District decision. I would advise parents not to do that among other things. One of the things we know about education is that one of the key skills we have to develop is persistence. And that means you do things you don't think you can do and it means you keep going at them. That's one of the key life skills. I'm not sure what message is being sent if people are taken away from tests because they are going to be too difficult. But, that's the parent's choice and that's the local Districts choice. The State Department of Education will not be reaching down and sanctioning parents, you know, if somebody falls -- the District falls below the 95 percent federally required level, then there may be ultimately financial consequences to the District sometime down the line, but that's a long way down the line. That would be a process that would take years and would start at the federal government. I hope that's a clear enough answer for you.

SENATOR McKINNEY: I appreciate that, if I could just quickly follow up. And I certainly, we could take days arguing the policy of persistence versus kids taking a test they haven't been taught and what that may mean to them. I don't want to engage in that debate here. But what I'm concerned about is no direction on a state level, what might be disparate treatment by different school Districts and I know we have someone from the Superintendant's Association who maybe we could as, Mr. Cirasuolo, that question, but if there were federal funding cut because a District went under the 95 percent level, wouldn't that be federal funding that comes to the state not the District, and would the state -- I guess I'm looking for confirmation that the state will not punish any parent or community if their child has opted out or if too many children in one District are opted out. I think I heard you say that.

ALLAN TAYLOR: Well, yeah, it would be federal funding that comes to the state but it comes to the state to distribute to local Districts. The money can be distributed to local Districts only if they're complying with the requirements of No Child Left Behind. Now I've never been a fan of No Child Left Behind, as you may recall the State Board on a five four vote supported suing over No Child Left Behind and I was one of those five.

So I'm not defending that law. But my understanding is that we can only -- we take the money under Title one for example, which gets distributed to many of our Districts. We have to distribute it only to Districts that meet the requirements of No Child Left Behind because that's built into Title one and other titles I think were affected by the same thing and therefore yes, there might be because we have to do it, a consequence -- a financial consequence to a District. As I said, this is several steps and much administrative procedure down the road, but it's there. That's in the law and it binds what we do with federal money.

SENATOR McKINNEY: Okay. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I guess -- but you're not saying though that if my town for example, didn't get the federal money, that you would take the position that the state should not make up for that funding in effect, abetting the federal government in punishing Districts for not wanting to do the test or is that a position you believe the state should take? That's my last question. I appreciate your time, Mr. Chairman.

ALLAN TAYLOR: I haven't confronted that one yet, Senator and I'd have to think about it. You know there -- on the one hand it's a federal policy not a state policy that's being enforced by the federal financial requirement; on the other hand for the Legislature which by the way, is what determines the way we allocate money, to say okay, we're going to give additional money out of the state pot to make up for the federal government having taken money away to Districts that haven't complied with one or the other and there are all sorts of federal requirements, I think raises a whole different set of policy considerations that I'm sure all of you would have to think hard about.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you. Under the joint rules of the General Assembly, an hour after a public hearing is commenced we need to start hearing from the public. So we will now alternate between members of the public and public officials. So, student Christopher McCray is next to be followed by the honorable Minority Leader, Larry Cafero. Good afternoon. Please be seated and make sure your microphone is on. Let us know your name and where you're from and what you like to testify about.

CHRISTOPHER McCRAY: Good afternoon. My name is Christopher McCray, I'm a student. I'm here to testify for SERC being a state agency. SERC has many different resources that are good for students. I am a student myself who is in college who is about to graduate, has used many of these resources and have also helped with the task force and the task forces for students who are transitioning into college and giving them the accommodations and the needs that many parents get the resources to.

I truly believe that SERC should be a state agency because these resources are very valuable to students for their education, the accommodations and to also understand the resources for when they get to a college level they need these accommodations to be successful.

REP. FLEISHMAN: Thank you for your testimony and for your service. Quick clarifying question, so the bill before us would make SERC into a quasi-public agency, not a full state agency, but one that had public representation on its board and so forth but had some independence. Are you in support of that or are you saying that you would prefer over that approach a pure state agency approach?

CHRISTOPHER McCRAY: I'm in support that it should be an individual -- the first one you said.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Quasi-public.


REP. FLEISHMANN: Quasi-English so it's understandable it wouldn't stick in your head, no worries about that. Any other questions from members of the committee? Representative Ackert.

REP. ACKERT: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Christopher, thank you for coming today. I'm right -- nope, this way. It's tough I know, we need a light to go off or something. But, thank you, Christopher. You don't need to be specific of services were provided you, but could you just give me one or two services that SERC has helped students that you know of?

CHRISTOPHER McCRAY: Well the resources are very helpful. Going to their conferences and they actually -- they give the student's a voice. So they research and then using the state, the SERC library, were able to come up with presentations and many different resources that are important to students. They have that voice so they're able to interact with students and they're able to get to a college level. I myself read many of these resources and they still help me and I'm a senior in Belleview University. So they're very helpful and those resources I think need to be spread all over the state because kids really need that voice and they also really need those presentations to help them get to the next level.

REP. ACKERT: Thank you, Christopher. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you. Any other questions? Senator Stillman.

SENATOR STILLMAN: Thank you. Right in front of you, right here. Well all these lights, I know, it's hard. First of all, congratulations as you get ready to graduate from college. That's wonderful. When you were in high school, do you remember if any of the SERC materials were used by your teachers?

CHRISTOPHER McCRAY: Well, I found them in college. I really didn't have the opportunity like most students to hear all the information and knowledge that SERC gives out. Now that it's actually spreading a little bit more through these conferences, students are able to get a better understanding how college is going to be like so they don't end up dropping out or they have a hard time in their first year of college, they're able to get those resources that they need. I myself wish I had those resources, but I had to use my accommodations and everything by myself. And I met SERC once I started college and they have been helpful in even giving me resources to this day.

SENATOR STILLMAN: Well, that's great. We're glad to hear that the resources are being used so well. Are you comfortable sharing with us what you're going to do after college?

CHRISTOPHER McCRAY: I'm working on being an educational consultant.

SENATOR STILLMAN: Well, you know that's great. I wish you as we all do, we wish you continued success and I'm sure you'll be applying to SERC for a job. Thank you, you're very well spoken. We appreciate it.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you, Madame Chair. Are there other questions for the young man? If not, Michael, thank you very for your testimony. Best of luck to you and by the way, SERC does employ many educational consultants, thus the reference. The honorable Minority Leader, Larry Cafero to be followed by student Mikayla Lessard.

LARRY CAFERO: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Chairman Fleishman, Senator Stillman, Ranking Members Ackert and Boucher, honorable members of the committee. For the record, my name is Larry Cafero, State Representative of the 142nd District, also serve as the House Republican Leader. I am not an educational professional but I am a parent and I guess I'm speaking on the two bills that concern Common Core that are before you today, House Bill 5331 and House Bill 5078.

I guess my plea is, not only of course to do what you are doing today and listen to all those stakeholders and people that have been affected by it, but also to be open to Legislative change if necessary, if in your wisdom you believe that that is necessary. And here's why I say that. Historically we heard some history of Common Core but as a member of the General Assembly back in 2010 and prior to that, I don't think we even heard of the words Common Core. We were told as legislators that Common Core was a set of new higher expectations of what Connecticut students should know as they progress through grades kindergarten through 12th grade, higher standards if you will.

There's Not a person in this room whether it's in their own personal life, whether it's in business, government, health care, transportation, that doesn't strive for higher standards and certainly, most importantly, in their area of education. And I think we collectively as a Legislature certainly believed in that and supported that. However, that was pretty much where our involvement ended. It then went to the powers that be in the state Department of Education and with their expertise they formulated a way to implement, if you will, these higher standards.

And it's only most recently, it's only most recently, that we are now seeing the rubber hit the road, if you will and seeing the effects of this roll out in our various Districts and that's where we come in because we have heard story after story from parents, from teachers, from students especially, of how this rollout in some cases has been great and in some cases has been poor.

I heard the Commissioner earlier testify that the whole goal of this rollout was to lower anxiety and to heighten support, those were his exact words. And unfortunately, I think it's fair to say that the anxiety has been heightened and the support has been diminished and I don't think any of us want to do that. I think we still want to strive for higher standards. But there are concerns that we're hearing every single day and I hope that this committee is open to hearing from those people so we can make real changes on a Legislative level.

Some might argue, well gee prior to this it wasn't our job to get involved, we are not educational professionals. When your constituents, all of ours, parents, teachers, students, have the level of anxiety that many of us are hearing about, it is our job to get involved. And that starts with this hearing process.

You know I heard Mr. Taylor, Chairman Taylor, say just a few moments go, that he was one of five that voted to sue over No Child Left Behind. Think about that for a second folks. That was an initiative done way back in the early 2000s by a new President, it was a bipartisan bill, it was one that had overall support because of its overall goals. But as the No Child Left Behind got rolled out, people found concerns with it. So much so that our own State Department of Education chose to sue over it.

Well Common Core may be the same kind of thing. We need to be responsive to those who we represent, we need to listen to their concerns and at this stage we as a Legislature do need to get involved. That's why we're here. I ask you to keep an open mind and listen to various ways that we hopefully can improve lowering the anxiety, heightening the support and most importantly, creating higher standards in education. Thank you. I'll be glad to answer any questions.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you, Representative Cafero. And may I say, not only are we open to your suggestion that we listen, many of us expect to be here until the wee hours of the morning listening and we invite you to join us. Questions or comments from members of the committee? Representative Ackert.

REP. ACKERT: So I guess we're saying concise, short answer no. So thank you, Mr. Chairman. Representative Cafero, like many of us we react to those in our -- our constituents that come and ask us on many different levels to react on their behalf, to bring a voice to Hartford and discuss it. Have you specifically in your communities, had issues that somebody brought and share their concerns with you?

LARRY CAFERO: Absolutely and frankly, on both sides. The City of Norwalk, my home town, has really committed to Common Core and is trying it's best to roll it out. There has been some success stories but there's been some concerns raised. I had an incident where a young man who was in the 5th grade, always a high achiever with regard to mathematics was given a test, the SBAC test with regard to certain mathematic principals that were typically taught in 6th or 7th grade, were not taught in the particular grade that he was in.

And when he got tested on those he did very poorly. And I might say, well no big deal, I heard the Commissioner say it doesn't count. Well guess what, in the mind of that kid it does count. And when you got a 5th grade kid that all of a sudden is deflated and demoralized with regard to how they perceive themselves academically, when they are fearful and have a fear of the unknown, will this affect my educational career? Will this -- even in 5th grade, will this test somehow show up in my college transcript, et cetera, et cetera, my high school transcript when he goes on to college.

The answer to that might be an overwhelming no, no, no, no. But you know what, not enough people know that and then you have the concern of the parent having those same concerns and then you have that teaching professional, who through no fault of their own, may be in their mind, graded upon that very test that showed little Johnny who heretofore was a great math student, ain't doing so well. If that's the case, there's something wrong with that.

You know, we test automobiles and products all the time. They're designed in the board rooms by brilliant engineers, all for good intentions. And everything is going great and they might have all the input and the finest engineers in the world. But if they roll that product out and the product ain't working, then you got to go back to the drawing board. And what we're hearing is the product might not be working as intended and that's the big concern that I'm hearing.

REP. ACKERT: Thank you, Representative. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Senator Boucher.

SENATOR BOUCHER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman and thank you, Minority Leader Cafero. It's great to have you here. Just a couple of things I wanted you to respond to and also to give us any of your thoughts on what you could see as improving the situation for everyone. I think the problem has been very well articulated. It was brought forward while you were here, hopefully you heard that it is possible for parents and even school systems to opt out of this.

The concern that was expressed by the Chairman of the Board of Education was that if the participation rate become lower, the state could get less money and then as such, they would have to make a decision as to whether they would then take state dollars to supplement any federal funds that would be lost as such and would school systems be held hostage to that. So, would you feel comfortable still suggesting if a student or a school system wanted to, they should opt out at this point.

Also, you articulated very well that this is not a phase in program, that individuals -- and I spent a day in a 4th grade class going through the Common Core myself and can speak directly to the fact that it is very confusing if you've not had any preparation. Adults ourselves had a hard time getting around a word problem in math at the 4th grade level without the prior preparation and teachers would say they did not learn how to do it. They had to teach themselves to get to that point as well.

So that would you recommend a change and that it should be phased in and not older grades not be required to participate? What other things would you suggest the committee consider as a good way to make this process better for everyone?

LARRY CAFERO: Well, thank you, Senator Boucher. As I prefaced with my remarks, I am not an education professional. I'm a parent. But I also, I think the good Lord blessed me with a little bit of common sense and what we're doing is we're setting new expectations, that's exactly -- new and higher expectations.

And unless and until we make sure that everyone has had the appropriate time to learn those who were teaching it to learn the curriculum they're held to teach, and that the parents understand the expectations of their children as they go forward, then certainly people should be allowed to opt out; certainly people should not be forced to take this test and certainly, God knows, before the test itself is tested. We shouldn't be taking the results of this untested test and using it to permanently mark either a teaching professional or a student.

So I am not qualified in my opinion, to say whether or not we should roll it out in certain grades and have it roll it up. But I think I am qualified as a parent and somebody I think, again, blessed with a little bit of common sense to say until we work out the kinks we should not force this down anyone's throat.

Should we continue to strive for higher standards? Absolutely, God knows, absolutely. But if we hear from the folks we hope to hear from today that there are actual practical problems out there, unless and until we fix them, we've got to be very cautious on how we move forward.

SENATOR BOUCHER: Thank you, Mr. Chair. And just finally, the SAT's are going to be changed as well. If the students were to continue to opt out, would they be affected? Might you think of the parents and concern of how they might be doing on the SAT's?

LARRY CAFERO: Well, those are good questions, you know. This is -- this whole Common Core as everyone has described, has been a national movement. Well then it also has to be addressed nationally. We have to make sure, at least in Connecticut, our federal delegation does its best to ensure that what goes on in Washington will not penalize particular states and then we as legislators in this state, have to make sure that Districts aren't penalized from something that is as unproven as Common Core.

But it is -- look, you go out there right now, we talk and encourage our kids to get education and higher education. It is tough out there, it is competitive as hell. There is a lot of pressure being put upon 10th, 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th grade kids. Right now in their mind, their world is turned upside down. The SAT's have changed the way they're being tested in their own high school is being changed. You talk about lessening anxiety? It's through the roof right now and I think we have a responsibility to do something about it.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you, Senator. Are there questions for the distinguished Minority Leader?

LARRY CAFERO: Thank you so much for your time.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you for your time and your patience. Student, Mikayla Lessard to be followed by Representative Tony Hwang. If you could both please introduce yourself for the record so that we properly note things in our transcript.

LISA LESSARD: My name is Lisa Lessard from Waterbury, Connecticut. And my child's going to introduce herself. And I hope you understand what she's going to say because it makes a point with our speech. She got up this morning and she really wasn't feeling good and she actually got sick in your ladies room, I apologize. But Makayla, can you tell them your name in sign language, please.

Did anybody here understand what my daughter was basically now just doing? She was finger spelling her name, M-a-k-a-y-l-a. So how do you expect the deaf and hard of hearing to take a test on a computer with earphones on their ears? She does have a cochlear, she does have a hearing aid, but how? I went to a PPT yesterday. She was in her classroom. I got the accommodations and modifications page for the deaf and the hard of hearing and believe it or not, it is not suitable for any deaf or hard of hearing student, period, in the State of Connecticut, or actually anybody that's going to use this accommodation page, period.

They said, one, I had the Superintendent of Special Ed -- I went yesterday, the Director of Special Ed -- I'm not going to say his name, but he's from Waterbury, Connecticut because this will embarrass him. I asked him a question -- you don't ask a question unless you already know the answer. Any good lawyer knows that. I asked the Superintendent of Special Ed, what is Common Core, what is Smarter Balance and is there a difference and can you explain it to the team members at PPT? He could not answer it.

I then asked, could I have somebody from the school who can basically tell me about Common Core, Smarter Balance, seeing Waterbury, Connecticut does Smarter Balance. We waited 15 minutes to almost a half an hour for somebody from her school at IEA to come into the room who was a teacher who took the Common Core and Smarter Balance. She basically told us yesterday, and I have it on tape recorder on my Blackberry playbook, which is one sentence that flabbergasted me.

She said, she was told not all deaf and hard of hearing students use the same method of learning, American Sign Language, depending on other special educational needs. Teachers stated they were told quote, end of quote, the standardized testing for students that are deaf and hard of hearing was set up for student failure. I'm pretty sure if Commissioner Stefan Pryor was still here listening to me or trying to get the sign language for my daughter, believe it or not, this is not okay.

I've already called the US Department of Education, Office of Civil Rights, talked to their head attorney. They said, you go through with this, you're going to be getting a lot of special educational law suits under 504 American Disabilities Act, from every special educational parent that knows better because these accommodations will have our children fail. One other more important think it, under American Sign Language, they are going to give a computer with closed captioning.

Now the American School for the Deaf, Cindy Paluch, I talked to her this morning. She told me she's already looked at that. The closed captioning, cc closed captioning, doesn't scroll down to where the test is. So you're reading a paragraph, getting to the directions and are probably two pages back. They have an American Sign Language interpreter in the corner. All children that speak American Sign Language or that are deaf, do not speak pure American Sign Language.

If you have special needs with learning disabilities, you can speak American Sign Language with signed English. American Sign Language with pigeon sign language, you can speak American Sign Language with American signed English with queue. This one ASL interpreter is going to be doing pure ASL American Sign Language. No pigeon, no sign language, no queuing. How are they supposed to take this test or as she would say, how would they take this test? Are you kidding me?

REP. FLEISHMANN: If you could please -- ma'am, if you could please summarize?

LISA LESSARD: If you look at these accommodations -- yeah. I just want you to look at these accommodations. I don't believe it will fit the deaf and hard of hearing, children that can't see, children with any special needs, period. We parents are going to PPT, the Director of Special Ed told me he could not answer my questions. I already knew the answer but he couldn't give me the answer so we waited 15 minutes almost half an hour to get the answer from somebody at the school that's not a District leader that's supposed to be teaching the administrators and teachers what to do and how to do it under Common Core and SBAC which is Smarter Balance.

It's a shame because our children, special educational children were totally forgotten about. I heard Stefan Pryor, he sounded like a used car salesman. I'm sorry but he was telling you what you wanted to hear not what is actually happening. Thank you.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you for your testimony. Just to be clear for the record. So both federal and state statutes require proper accommodations and it's the expectation of this committee that such accommodations will be made for this exam as they would for any other and if there's a failure to make such accommodations as you know, you will have redress for that grievance. But that is the requirement of both federal and state statute. Are there questions from members of the committee? Senator Bartolomeo.

SENATOR BARTOLOMEO: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Thank you both for being here and I'm sorry she's not feeling well today. What currently is done for her accommodations for the CAP and the CMT's? I have a son that is special education and has all different kinds of accommodations and for instance has a bubbler on the CMT's. How do they currently help?

LISA LESSARD: We have accommodations modification page already set up for CAP which she just took last year, but it doesn't involve a computer, it doesn't involve earphones on your ears. So the problem here is the testing with the computer and earphones on your ears. Now, any testing under CMT and CAP we were told directly by the Supervisor of Special Ed that a person, being an American Sign Language interpreter is not able, don't know if it's different with this, but not able to sit there and sign the directions because they possibly might be giving the student the answers.

So they're going to have to go with computer standardized testing. Are you kidding me? What I just explained. There's like six different ways of signing in American Sign Language with different facets. This does not work into it. I faxed this over to the US Department of Education, Ruth, head attorney, Boston, US Department of Education OCR, she read it and she says this is not adequate, this will not fit and you can make a special educational report for your child and any special educational parent because they don't feel this will work to meet the needs of the students because it's so vague.

And they didn't take into accommodation the task force, they didn't have people sitting at the table that were parents with special ed children or anybody with a special educational child, paraprofessional or anybody in accordance to different abilities of these children. She has many learning disabilities. My page eight is full of accommodations. This sheet is the new accommodations for the new testing. It is inadequate; it will not meet the needs of the deaf and hard of hearing.

I talked to Cindy Paluch like I said this morning, at the American School for the Deaf in West Hartford. I asked her if she was part of that task force. No they weren't. I don't get why you -- how you can put a test out there for any child and leave out a big huge population when American School for the Deaf in West Hartford has a lot of deaf and hard of hearing students, teachers and parents.

SENATOR BARTOLOMEO: So as a parent I appreciate your frustration and when all the questions are done, I'm going to just step out in the hall and see if we can talk for a moment off line.

LISA LESSARD: Thank you so much.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you, Senator both for your question and for your thoughtfulness for the witness. Other questions from members of the committee? If not -- Senator Stillman.

SENATOR STILLMAN: Thank you very much for being here and alerting us to the realities of this situation for our children who have disabilities. For me this begs the question of what areas, other areas of special education are not being accommodated properly. So I just wanted to thank you for sharing that. I certainly hope Makayla feels better. I think being here alone might be overwhelming and could make anyone not feel well. So there's many a day I come here and I don't feel well. Today is not one of them, I'm glad to say.

LISA LESSARD: Actually, just to let you know to answer a question the Representative asked about opting out, I was told my daughter should opt out. I have the letter right here from Michael Yamin, Director of Special Ed. I asked why, because it's too difficult to accommodate what she needs during the testing? It's not going to happen. I want the data driven proof to go where it needs to go so we have the data driven proof for the special ed population. So right here it says, your child does not need to take such Smarter Balance tests seeing she took CAPS last year. Opt out. Right here, plain English, Waterbury, Connecticut. You can opt out but I wouldn't suggest opting out because then we wouldn't know. You're going to get false readings because they might be smarter than they actually can put down on the computer.

SENATOR STILLMAN: Good point and we all appreciate your advocacy and sharing that with us and it -- we're listening.

LISA LESSARD: Thank you so much.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Representative Tony Hwang to be followed by Joe Cirasuolo.

TONY HWANG: Dear Chairman Stillman and Fleishmann and all the esteemed members of the Education Committee. Thank you for your work. My name is Tony Hwang, Representative for the 134th District. I'd like to share with you a letter that I received from a recently retired teacher in my District, named Roberta Stone, regarding HB 5331, teacher evaluation systems as relates to the PEAC guidelines.

Mrs. Stone was unable to attend due to a significant hip injury and I hope that her statement will also represent the sentiments of so many of our quality teachers who are unable to attend today because they are doing what they do best. They're teaching our kids in school. So, I'll begin.

Roberta Stone of Fairfield. When I was first introduced to the new teacher evaluation form about four years ago, my principal ruled it out as a help document for teachers to improve what they felt were weaknesses in their practices. For instance, if I felt that my classroom management needed improvement, then I would ask my evaluating administrator to focus on that aspect of the evaluation when observing me. At the time, it felt like I was going to work with my evaluators to improve a weakness so as to make me a more effective teacher on the whole.

Four years later and my retirement from teaching, this 12 page evaluation has become a subjective swashbuckling sword used to cut apart and educator with the stroke of a pen. If an administrator for some random reason doesn't like a teacher, this document can be used as a conduit to his or her dismissal and defeat the original purpose of improving a weakness, where a teacher may be struggling. Case in point, I know of a gifted teacher who has been teaching for over 14 years now, with solid and positive evaluations in her records who is not in danger of being dismissed because of the new evaluation system in place. Instead of helping a teacher improve in the area of weakness, the administrators use the evaluation as a weapon for dismissal.

Checking off a box can be very subjective. It is much more useful and fair for the evaluator to write a reflection after viewing a lesson in order to log the good part of a lesson and make suggestions on educators and ways to improve the next time. This way it is much more personal and thought provoking than checking off a box devised by a group of people who've not been in today's classroom and expecting that the narrow choices of woods next to a box adequately describes the plusses and minuses of a teacher. How cold. How impersonal. How ineffective.

I hope the committee will allow me to indulge and finishing this. I compare the system in place to this, suppose there is a corporation with a majority of effective and productive workers and their employees were slacking off and underperforming. What would the president of the company do? They wouldn't put everybody through and evaluation program. So what I'm going to do in respecting the time and everybody here, I will shorten it. So, her recommendation is the fact that low morale's are negatively affecting the successes of our educational structure. Teacher's morale in this state is at an all time low due to a subjective and unfair evaluation system.

My suggestion is that this problem would be for evaluators to go back and write lengthy, engaged, explicit and thoughtful evaluations based not only on a set of generic educational skill sets that all teachers must master, but also comment on practices related to the specific area of expertise. This process makes sense to me. The testimony has been provided for you. I apologize for the time lag and more importantly, I hope this reflects and offers some venue for teachers who are unable to be here to offer some of their view points. I welcome any questions. Thank you.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you, Representative both for your time and for advocating on behalf of the constituent who couldn't be here. Are there questions from members of the committee? If not -- oh, Representative Ackert.

REP. ACKERT: Thank you. And just a quick follow up. So, they're supporting -- have they looked at this one evaluation process? Is it that they want it to be more of an engaged one evaluation? Through you, Mr. Chairman.

TONY HWANG: Well, I think the crux of the point is they have not been engaged in it. I think when we have talked about this hearing and talked about the rationale for this which has been fabulous, is allowing the people behind me and the people in the spillover rooms to finally have an opportunity to be engaged as shareholders in the educational process. You know, when you talk to teachers, they love what they do.

When you talk to parents, they love the fact that we have one of the greatest educational structures in the world that offers free education. The problem is, you are making plans, us as lawmakers are making decisions by thought without incorporating the major shareholders and they are the educators on the ground, the parents that are engaged with these kids, and we're putting in plans however perfect, however well-intentioned, the best of systems will never work if you don't engage the people who are going to be impacted by it.

So I think your question is a good point. It should be a starting point of discussions but more importantly, it should incorporate these teachers because one of the negative effects of this system is not only the systems confusion; what you have potentially is, you may have a system in which we are driving away some of the most talented, some of the most gifted, some of the most inspiring teachers to leave the profession.

What you're going to have potentially, is a system fraught five years, ten years, that meet standard checkpoints. As an immigrant into this country, the greatness of this country is not the fact that we take the highest test, but the fact that we produce the most innovative, entrepreneurial people in the world that produce the best of the best and it is not measured by a test score.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Representative Lavielle.

REP. LAVIELLE: Thank you very much, Mr. Chair. Just a quick remark. Representative Hwang, thank you so much for bringing that testimony from one of the teachers in your district. It's so valuable to hear from them and of course it's unfortunate that we're here in the middle of the day, but there are a lot of people here and as you know we have two overflow rooms and also there are a lot of people watching online and so I think it's important for, as you said for the real stakeholders to be able to contribute to this process and I don't know how many people know that if they come later they can still testify and I just wanted to make that point.

TONY HWANG: Thank you for the point and it does show and it is a powerful statement that people can have a say in the Legislative Democratic process but it is inconvenient. The fact of the matter is I've heard from so many of the teachers that have written in testimony but the fact of the matter is, they can't come up here and isn't that a shame that one of the major stakeholders -- but I'm grateful that we have educators that sit on this panel, such as Representative Giuliano who's engaged in teaching and so many of the others that I may not know of.

But the fact of the matter is, this is a day for people that are impacted by this and what we're going to realize is the fact that it's not just the overflow rooms. There are so many people that care passionately about this because parents care about the kid's education, teachers take pride in what they do and they are not allowed to do what they're doing right now and that's a shame.

REP. LAVIELLE: Thank you, Representative. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you. Any other questions of the witness? If not, thank you very much for your time.

TONY HWANG: Thank you.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Next up is Joe Cirasuolo and as he approaches I just want to make clear to members of the committee, the public and those watching as well, that the Education Committee has welcomed submissions of testimony even from those who cannot be here today. So we received about 150 pieces of testimony yesterday; we're not going to close the door on those so if you're watching and you have an opinion and you want to send it in, please feel free to go ahead and get it to the Education Committee. It will be included with the materials that accompany the bills we are hearing today. With that, the floor is yours, Joe Cirasuolo.

JOE CIRASUOLO: Good afternoon, Representative Fleishmann, members of the Education Committee. Thank you for this opportunity to speak with you briefly. I'm the Executive Director of the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendants. We've submitted written testimony on three bills I'm going to briefly mention two of them in three minutes.

As you'll see from my written testimony, we are opposed to the bill that would impose a moratorium on the implementation of the Common Core. Our members who are superintendants and those who are at central office level in school districts have known for a long time we need raise standards for student learning if our children are to be able to leave us ready to be able to lead decent lives, productive lives.

We welcomed the adoption of the Common Core in 2010 and for four years every district in this state has been working towards the implementation of what needs to be put in place to make those standards real. Curriculum has been revised, teacher preparation has gone on and in some cases even local assessments have been revised.

It is -- from a survey we've done of our members and just from individual conversations, I can tell you it's almost unanimous that the members of our organization, the superintendants and those who work at the central office level who are members, over 100 of them, they think that if the passage of this bill would do just the opposite of what some folks are trying to accomplish.

It would cause confusion instead of clarification, number one; and number two, it would deprive the districts of the very support they need right now to continue with the work. The impression that they have is that -- not impression, the reality they have is that the work has been done, it's going forward well and instead of putting a moratorium on the process, the Legislature should be looking for ways to further encourage the process.

The other bill we're concerned about is the bill that would put into statute the flexibility that was adopted by the State Board of Education after the recommendations of the recommendations of the performance evaluation advisory council on teacher evaluation. The teacher evaluation system that was put in place, actually was approved two years ago, this is the first year of any kind of full implementation and it isn't in full implementation in every district yet. It represents a major paradigm shift and you do not bring about a major paradigm shift overnight.

It's a work in progress. Works in progress need to be monitored carefully, need to be adjusted as we go forward and the adjustments need to take place when they need to take place. If we started putting the decisions of the State Board of Ed upon recommendation of PEAC into statute, what we're going to have to do if we want anything changed is come back to you. Let's say for example, next November we think a change needs to be made. We're going to have to wait until we come back to you next spring to get the statute changed. We don't think that's the direction that we ought to go to make this system work the way it should work.

Instead, what we'd encourage the Legislature to do is to -- if anything require PEAC to meet on a regular basis, require the State Board of Ed to consider this system on a regular basis and leave in place the process that is developing to take us to where we need to be with this system. I have a virus that's depriving me of my voice and strength and I heard a bell. I hope it's a real bell, so I'll stop there.

REP. FLEISHMANN: It was a real bell and it tolled for you. Are there questions --

JOE CIRASUOLO: I don't like the sound of that at all.

REP. FLEISHMANN: It just meant the end of your period of testimony but you will get to say more if there are questions. Are there questions? Representative Ackert to be followed by Senator Boucher.

REP. ACKERT: Good to see you, Joe. Thank you for your testimony, we truly appreciate that. I serve four towns; they've all done it completely different. Some have been exemplary, and some are still on CMT's, some aren't there yet. It's unfortunate, they knew about it in 2010 and one district took hold of it and really went forward. Two of them are halfway through and one's not even doing it because of the superintendant change. So we have, it's different throughout the districts. But I'm going to hear a lot about those two bills but we still have to think about 5519, AN ACT CONCERNING STUDENT INTERNSHIPS and your support of that with some changes.

So I'd actually like to hear brief comments on your support, please.

JOE CIRASUOLO: Yeah, As you may know, we issued a report a little over three years ago calling for a student centered personalized education. One of the important aspects of that is that learning needs to start taking place, not only in schools, but outside of schools, different places and so on. One of the strategies for doing that is to place students in approved plans, approved by a teacher in a school, in a private business. And there are some impediments to that.

One impediment I believe the bill does address, and that is the whole issue of liability. The other impediment, and we're not too clear on this and we're trying to get clarification, is whether these young people need to be paid, in every instance when they go out there. If that's the case, that's a major impediment. We're not trying to take work away from anybody.

I guess on that part of it we're urging the committees to take a look at it. We ourselves are going to try to engage in some conversations with the Department of Labor. Out of that may come some suggestions for language. But, what it boils down to, anything that the Legislature can do to encourage student internships when they are part of an approved educational plan for students, would be a good thing.

REP. ACKERT: Great. Thank you, Joe and I do support that because my daughter went to the teaching program and she had to intern and I don't remember her getting paid, so thank you for those comments. I think that's kind of what we need to -- thank you, Mr. Chairman.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you, Representative. Senator Boucher to be followed by Representative Kokoruda.

SENATOR BOUCHER: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman and hello Joe, nice to see you again. Certainly there are other things on our agenda today, but the two overflow rooms really are here for specifically two bills and one in particular and I'm sure you've been hearing about the controversy around Common Core. I represent seven towns and you have just heard from a Representative that had four towns and we all are hearing the same thing. Not necessarily that Common Core is something they don't want to implement, that it isn't necessarily an improvement over previous.

What we are hearing is that not only is this something that takes a good long while to implement and would have been better off being phased in at the younger grades and allowed to in a very common sense, more easily able to be digested and successful over time rather than thrown out at every grade level all at once and then a test following it.

In addition, that was being done, the curriculum changes along with the testing that is required for that on top of a new evaluation system that takes a great deal of time and training to be able to do effectively and that many places are feeling the brunt of all of that all at once and it's overwhelming, not just with students being overwhelmed, parents not understanding it, but teachers also having to fire on multiple fronts and administrators having to handle these changes at a time when PPTs for special education is at an all time high.

In one of my districts they had 1,400 to 1,600 PPTs in one year and that means administrator time and so forth. So I'm concerned about your statement that you oppose any phase in or delay or what I would interpret a moratorium number one, and also your impression about the fact that there should not be a penalty or penalty to those that do not participate and school systems that do not participate because somehow that would be seen as a loss of revenue or funds and the way in which -- there's a perception that somehow the heavy handed government is going to come down and penalize either students, parents or school systems in some fashion because of their desire to see a better implementation process than is being done right now.

JOE CIRASUOLO: Okay. Somebody once said hindsight is 20/10, we're not where we were four years ago, we are where we are now. As I mentioned -- I know every district in the state has tried to meet -- step up to the challenge. They're moving along, they've revised curriculum -- in fact on our survey results, I'm trying to remember, the 100 percent of revised curriculum; 60 percent have actually engaged in teacher preparation, teacher retraining, teacher development; another 20 percent have actually gotten into starting to change their assessment systems.

They're moving along in a way that's appropriate for their districts. Now I use the word moratorium because that's in the title of the bill and moratorium says to me, you stop, all of that just stops. And what our members are saying, we can't do that, I mean what do we do if we stop? Do we go back and get the stuff we used to use four years ago?

f the Legislature wants to do something to help districts move along more effectively, maybe in a more thoughtful manner, whatever, that's different than a moratorium and that's not what that bill says. That bill also, by the way, prohibits the State Department from spending money on the Common Core. I may not be correct on that.

But if that's the case, that's just the opposite of what will be happening. We need more state assistance in that regard. That's my answer to that part of your question.

I think on your opt out, you're talking about the testing, not the Common Core. We have had a federal law as has been referred to previously in this country, since 2001, that requires testing, requires every district to test every kid, every grade I think from three through 10 or three through 11, depending on whatever.

There is also a federal requirement that 95 percent of a -- at least 95 percent of the students in the district and I believe you need it in the state, have to be tested. That leaves a little wiggle room. Even with the Mastery test and the CAP test there were times when for one reason or another, parents or students, sometimes at the high school level, more students than parents, decided not to take the test.

As far as I know, we never got to the point where the number was so great that it got you below the 95 percent. So we don't really know from experience what can happen if that occurs. What we do know is there's nothing in the federal law as far as I know in the state law, that punishes parents or students. And districts are -- again, from everything I can tell and we have a lot of discussions of this among the CAPs members, there's only 155 superintendants so we get to talk to each other a lot, they're making it clear that their requirement is they are required to administer the tests.

But they also know full well if somebody says they're not going to take the test, what are you going to do? I mean there's no way you can compel somebody to do something of that type if they don't want to. The thing we need to keep in mind though is what happens to a district from the federal level -- I mean, I think you can control what happens from the state level, the Legislature can do that, the Governor and so on -- what happens from the federal level if a particular district goes below the 95 percent or if the whole state does?

I'm not going to try and predict what the United States Department of Education is going to do in any instance, but things you need to keep in mind I think, are that the waiver was dependent upon the administration of these tests. I suppose one of the options to have is to withdraw the waiver and we'll write under No Child Left Behind again and that mean s probably every -- well 90 percent of the schools in this state right now would be failing schools.

Because this was the year when everybody was going to be, it was going to be like (inaudible) this year, everybody is going to be average or above. And I don't know if the school -- frankly, I don't know of a school in the state can say that. The best school in this state has at least one kid who's below that. Now when that happens, it wasn't just okay, you're a failing school, you now have to start doing some things. You had to provide some supplementary services, you had to provide a whole structure of choice and next year you had to reconstitute the school, all of that stuff could kick in again.

Whether they're going to do it or not, I don't know. The other thing that's mentioned and I've been involved at the federal level for a number of years and every now and then they talk about it, is well what I'm reminded of, I don't know if you all remember former Commissioner Jerry Terrazi, he used to have -- he had a definition of the golden rule. He said he who has the gold, makes the rules.

The federal government puts money into this state. I suppose they could consider saying if you didn't make your 95 percent we're going to reduce that or something. I guess what I'm saying is, I can't predict what they're going to do. But before we take action that could provoke some reaction, somebody should ask and figure it out because the consequences could be -- you know the law of unintended consequences could come in. A long winded answer to your question and I apologize for that.

SENATOR BOUCHER: No, that's fine and thank you, Mr. Chairman, but it appears that until the students are prepared enough to take the test, our scores are going to plummet and wrongly so because it won't measure academic performance, it will measure how little they've gotten of the curriculum to the point that they took that test.

So, there is something to be said about waiting for that test to be implemented until the students are prepared enough over time to meet what's on that test. But what I am hearing on the moratorium, from what I'm getting, and correct me if I'm wrong, is your opposed to a moratorium and stopping the instruction of Common Core, but you're okay with the idea that maybe we should look at a phase in process that is more appropriate over time for that and as well as the ability to be more flexible.

What if in fact over that process they find that there are problems with the curriculum and it needs to be changed and they should have input not only in changing the curriculum, but changing the tests and the questions that are on it that may not be appropriate?

JOE CIRASUOLO: A couple of things. The notion of -- I'm not sure if there's anybody who feels at this point they can start a phase in, in their districts because they've done work K through 12. Having said that, I think we have a vehicle and the Governor put it together and it's the group that -- the members of whom were announced yesterday -- we have a vehicle there to look at this implementation of the Common Core of state standards, in a thoughtful reflective way.

I think we need to let that group work a little bit before we start deciding what to do. Let me go back to where you started with your comment about the kids not being ready to take the tests because they weren't taught. I was a superintendent in Clinton, Connecticut in 1985. I was superintendant; I was 10 years old, in case you want to know how old I am. I was one of the ones who made that argument about the Mastery test and it was accurate. The kids weren't ready to take the Mastery tests.

And yet, I learned and I was advocating for not doing the Mastery tests until we took all of those standards that were embedded in it, give us a chance to get the kid to learn, blah, blah, blah. I didn't win that argument. And I realized a year or two into it after I'd worked with my teachers and principals in Clinton, that I was wrong. That the Mastery test results, those first two or three years, gave us direction on what we needed to do to improve our curriculum. Direction we did not have before those results came forward. I think the same thing is going to happen with Smarter Balance.

If we look at the Smarter Balance results and say, oh, failure, there it is again, we're taking the wrong tack on it. We need to look at the Smarter Balance results and say, okay, what do they tell us about those areas of curriculum revision we need to work on; those areas of teacher preparation we need to work on; and those areas of classroom and local district assessment we need to work on. That can provide us valuable information.

Now, we haven't gotten the results of Smarter Balance yet; we're not going to get them until probably this time next year for this year's administration. When we look at them and we see that they don't do that for us, then fine, that's the time to look at something else. But everything I know about what they're telling us about Smarter Balance, everything I know about -- by the way, there were a number of students in Connecticut who took a practice test last spring of Smarter Balance.

I forget the percentage, small but noticeable amount. What I've heard from the folks who were involved with that is, when they started to see the results, they were useful in those situations. In fact, in those situations they were happy they did that because it gave them some information in terms of what to work on this year in terms of curriculum revision and all the other things I said.

So, I wouldn't back off the testing because the curriculum has not been fully implemented. In fact, most of the successful implementations of curriculum balance the two. You put in a -- you don't wait until the whole thing is done and then you test, you're going along so you're doing benchmark testing as you implement. Again, I'm sorry to give you these long winded answers, but you've sparked a couple of things.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you. Representative Kokoruda to be followed by Representative Lavielle.

REP. KOKORUDA: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Good to see you, Joe. A couple of things, you were talking about -- we talked about opting out and you were talking about before we take any action to see how it goes and we have to be concerned with unintended consequences. I think that's what a lot of us are feeling about the test and the implementation of what's happened with Common Core.

Now, in your testimony you said that until approximately the last 12 months, districts have worked to implement Common Core for the most part on their own. And then you said, well the degree of state assistance and support needs to be increased over the last year, they've ramped up. I think that's what a concern is for a lot of us.

Why we're here with the Common Core, why we're here with SBAC, why we're here with teacher evaluation. I know we've got a little wiggle room because of the new PEAC set of what PEAC suggestions. But where was CAPs, where were the other organizations pushing for this implementation to be rolled out with enough funding to get it done right?

JOE CIRASUOLO: Every forum that we could put ourselves before, we advocated for that. This started with a former commissioner, former administration. We advocated internally and externally for more assistance than just a cross walk. What they did was, they took the Connecticut standards, compared them to the Common Core and put them together. And that's all well and good, but that's just and necessarily but only for a step, very little happened after that. We advocated for more funding, for the State Department to provide this assistance. So we have not been silent nor have any of the educational organizations. We're grateful that in the last -- I said 12 months, maybe it's 18 depending on when it started, we're grateful that at least things are getting going in the right direction now.

REP. KOKORUDA: Well, thank you for that. And I just want to clarify two things. One is the survey you did or your members superintendents, it sounds like you did not get a lot of pushback for this whole process, Common Core implementation, SBAC, it sounds like the majority -- at one point you said it was unanimous, with the standards but the implementation, are you hearing a pushback from a significant number of superintendants?

JOE CIRASUOLO: I'm not hearing a pushback on implementation but I'm hearing and I hope referred to that in the testimony, is the need for assistance, more help. What they're hearing is and what they're concluding is, this is a good thing. Let's do it right, let's get more assistance in here, where we need to do more curricular revision, let's do it, where we need to do more teacher preparation, let's do it, where we need to do anything, let's do it.

And that's why I said in my verbal testimony instead of putting a moratorium on the process now, let's look for ways where the state government can assist the districts in the processes that they've already started and they're committed to. I hope that answers your question.

REP. KOKORUDA: Well it did and I agree with most of what you just said, but you know, it's that flexibility that you talk about has been one of the biggest concerns is one size fits all which is the thought that people think is coming from our State Department of Education and it's a concern and I know they tie it to the waiver but it is a real concern. I know the new changes with PEAC helped that a little bit, but that's short term.

JOE CIRASUOLO: Well, that's evaluation. And that's a whole different conversation. When it comes to the Common Core state standards, I don't know of any superintendent who would disagree that it is the job of the State Board of Education to set the standards for learning in the State of Connecticut. If that's one size fits all, then people are going to buy into that.

I think that everyone also understands that there's going to be a state assessment system, whether it's Mastery tests or SBAC or something else. And so if that's one size fits all, everybody's okay with it. But as far as Common Core and the rest of it, there is not one size fits all. Districts have been allowed to develop curriculum as they see fit, to purchase materials as they see fit, to do teacher preparation as they see fit. Many of the smaller districts have combined -- they don't have the resources themselves.

And nobody's mentioned actually the work in the Regional Education Service Centers in all of this. They've been working at it. So, there's a lot of individual variation as to how we get to those standards and that's fine with us. In fact I've been a member of CAPs since 1979 and all along we have said, tell us what you want the kids to learn and then let us figure out how to do it and then hold us accountable. I think that's the process we have now.

REP. KOKORUDA: I would agree with you with Common Core and teacher's evaluation, you're exactly right. But with the tests, obviously it's a national test we're going to be taking, isn't that correct?

JOE CIRASUOLO: It is a nationally prepared test, yes.

REP. KOKORUDA: And the last question I just want to ask you, can you just clarify this for me because I hear this around my district. The whole Common Core idea came because of -- and you have it in your testimony -- about being internationally benchmarked and that Connecticut and United States wasn't doing as well compared to other countries. And you have in here that standards that have been set are being met by children in other countries. Are all other countries that we're comparing ourselves including all children in their standardized test, we mainstream, we have our special needs, we don't have just our best and brightest -- all children are tested. Is this apples to apples compared to other countries?

JOE CIRASUOLO: The -- as far as I know, you're asking every country, I'm not sure about every country, but the vast majority they test everyone. They have different structures for where kids go and all that, I mean there's still some schools that -- I mean, for example, the British system has been testing every child for decades if not centuries. There are different structures in some places -- we allow a lot more access than some countries do to different programs.

Some countries will predetermine what kind of program you're going to get at a certain point based on what you've done up to that point. We tend not to do that and that's one of our strengths. But what it comes down to, you look at any comparison of data and I'm not -- I don't want to get put into a position where I'm not which is, I'm not the greatest defender of standardized tests as the be all and end all.

But they do give you an indication and then you've got to look at some other things too. And the comments people make -- I've heard so many folks who have moved to this country with children K/12 age and say to me, my kids were far ahead before they came here and these are bright kids in good school systems. So there's a lot of evidence and we keep talking about research, research, research -- there's a lot of evidence out there that we need to raise the bar.

The comments I've heard so far this morning, nobody is disputing that. And one of the reasons is that we need to -- we no longer live as we all know, in a situation where it's just Connecticut or it's just the United States, we're globally -- our kids need to be globally competitive and I think they can be. I think that anything that we don't do to do that sells them short.

REP. KOKORUDA: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you, Representative Kokoruda. Senator Linares -- oh, sorry, Representative Lavielle to be followed by Senator Linares.

REP. LAVIELLE: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Hi, Joe, good afternoon.

JOE CIRASUOLO: Good afternoon.

REP. LAVIELLE: Thank you for your testimony. You piqued my interest about something in your earlier remarks. You and Commissioner Pryor made reference to the fact that this isn't the first time that new standards have been introduced into our education system, in fact it's been pretty frequent and that there's a way of doing it and that there's always a process and there's standards, curriculum, standards, curriculum and they kind of overlap and you also mentioned that this is done elsewhere, we're trying to benchmark, we're trying to raise the bar -- I don't think anyone does dispute that, you mentioned the British system.

I'm familiar with the A levels and the O levels and everybody has to do that. I know the French system which is entirely based on testing and nothing else. So, it's a pretty common thing. So my question to you is, in your experience, I think you said you were 10 in 1985, in your experience has there ever been with all of that in position of standards or introduction of standards, such a level of anxiety that Representative Cafero referred to earlier, about actually having children take the test? Has there ever been a large cohort of people who have said we are not going to do this?

JOE CIRASUOLO: In the State of Connecticut, no although the closest thing and it wasn't really that close, was the introduction of the Mastery tests. There were a lot of people very concerned about the children taking the tests in the 1985, '87 time period. But not as much --

REP. LAVIELLE: But you were only 10.

JOE CIRASUOLO: Yeah and I'm sure that your parents told you about this time period. And we can both -- that's what happens when you don't tell the truth, you hit the microphone. I think we live in a time though where there is anxiety about a lot of things.

It just -- and I'm going to sound like I'm getting old here, which I am, I cannot remember a time when we've had a more contentious public discussion about anything in this country, as a country. Fortunately the State of Connecticut is not quite as bad by any means but I think a lot of the anxiety that's there is a concern that there are people trying to take over our lives and there are probably people who are trying to take over our lives. I don't think the Common Core is an example of that.

REP. LAVIELLE: Well that's a remark that I've heard from many constituents and others that have held a couple of public meetings and that is one of the sentiments that I have heard fairly often. And I would just point out, I'm not sure what -- you would have more experience than I, but I would point out that the level of anxiety and the level of contention in public discussion ought to tell us that there are a good many things in this process that must be visited and revisited because it is anomalous vis--vis, the other experiences we've had with standards in the past.

JOE CIRASUOLO: And I do not disagree with you. One of the things that we had advocated in CAPs for was a lot more communication about what the standards are, what the implementation processes are -- that it needs to be ramped up even further than it is now and that's why a few minutes ago I referred to the group that's just been empanelled. I think that whole -- all the things you just talked about, are things that that group needs to grapple with and come up with some suggestions as to how at the district level, at the State Department level, at State Board level, Legislative level, whatever, what the reaction should be. But the answer is not put a moratorium on it now. The answer is, if you have to adjust it, adjust it. But don't stop it.

REP. LAVIELLE: Thank you very much. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you. Senator Linares to be followed by Representative LeGeyt to be followed by Senator McKinney.

SENATOR LINARES: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, Joe for your testimony and for your service to the Town of Clinton as superintendent. I represent Clinton and 11 other towns in the State Senate and this question comes directly from my district. Does Common Core inhibit teaching from being tailored to individual students?

JOE CIRASUOLO: I see nothing in the Common Core or any set of standards frankly, that inhibits instruction to be tailored to individual students. In fact, in the report I referenced earlier that we put out calling for personalized education, we had called for much higher standards as part of the process of personalizing schooling so that we have higher standards for everybody, we give every student the time they need to meet those standards and we teach them in a way that's consistent with how they learn. But high standards don't get in the way of personalizing schooling. No set of standards does that.

SENATOR LINARES: Thank you. And I do have a question. You mentioned that it might take until this time next year that we receive the tests back from SBAC. One of the concerns of teachers in my district is that waiting an entire year before they receive the tests back, that they can't learn from the experience of the tests and then go and tailor education towards the student on what they need to know. Can you comment on that?

JOE CIRASUOLO: A very legitimate concern. If that were to be the permanent condition of the SBAC, you'd hear CAP saying don't do the SBAC. What we're being told is -- this is, you probably know the history on this -- this is the field test year of the SBAC. It was supposed to be only 20 percent of the kids in the state were going to take it.

The State Department said to superintendents, 20 percent of our kids are going to be taking SBAC and the Mastery test; we're going to double the testing for 20 percent of the kids. Are you interested in an option to do one or the other? We brought superintendents together, they said absolutely, give us the option and 90 percent of the districts took advantage of that. It is a field test. SBAC was not set up to give the results back in a timely fashion in the field test.

The first estimate we got was that it was going to come back in October; the last one I heard was December. If somebody sat around long enough, I think it might be actually March, whatever.

But, when it is fully implemented because it is computerized, my understanding and not just what I'm hearing in this state, but what I'm hearing from around the country and from the folks who deal with this stuff at Chief State School Officers, National Governor's Association and the consortium, is that those results will be back by the end of the school year in which the tests were given. Then it's perfectly timely.

SENATOR LINARES: Thank you, Joe and thank you, Mr. Chairman.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you. Representative LeGeyt.

REP. LeGEYT: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Good afternoon, sir.

JOE CIRASUOLO: Where are you?

REP. LeGEYT: Over here.


REP. LeGEYT: Yeah, I say over here and of course you don't know where over here is. Thank you for your contributions to this discussion today and for the opportunity for us to get some sense of where the Association of Superintendents is coming from. Clearly we have two different dynamics going on. One is a question about the standards themselves and the more important issue I think is about the rollout and how those standards are implemented into the educational districts in our state.

And for myself, I'm more concerned about the rollout than I am the standards. But also we have discussion going on regarding several different groups that are involved in that whole process. Superintendents, building administrators, teachers, parents, and students and I'm concerned that in the process we're trying to resolve, we're not paying attention -- enough attention to the students themselves.

My career was in elementary education and I know that students at that level anyway, and I'd like to think it happens for the rest of as we get older even though we learn to develop a little shell about it, is that they are very tender creatures and they are looking for someone else to help them understand how good a learner they are and their self-esteem and their self concept as a learner is affected by what happens in school.

And if we're going to set up a situation where we're going to rollout a program all at once that is not phased in and in light of what Representative Cafero said about the 5th grade boy that was tested on what would normally be 7th grade skills and suffered a diminution in his self concept of himself as a learner, I'm just concerned that we're not putting students first as a priority as far as what we're measuring and how we assess the ability and quality of this program and process.

I wonder if you might share how you feel about that but also whether or not the other 155 superintendents to your mind have included that concern when they assess their opinion about how well this process is going along.

JOE CIRASUOLO: Let me answer the last part first. I mean I can't tell you what 155 superintendents have done. I do know that large numbers of them have had processes in their districts that involve all the people you talked about including students. I'm not sure elementary students, but certainly high school students. Later on, maybe the wee hours of the morning, there are a number of superintendents who are going to be testifying here. I would suggest you ask them directly what they've done in their district in that regard.

Let me go back to what you said about children's self-esteem and all of that. When I was superintendent of Wallingford, we were the first district in the state that established performance standards for graduation. So the kids didn't just have to get so many credits, they had to actually demonstrate they could do some things. They knew something to do something to graduate. And I heard a lot of complaints about that -- I was going to ruin the self-image of these kids if we did that. And I was concerned about that.

I was particularly concerned about the special needs kids. In fact I was ready to go to the board of education and say, you know when it comes to special needs kids, we don't need to enforce these performance standards. I don't want kids held accountable for something they may not be able to do. The teachers of those kids came to me and said don't do that. Give our kids a chance to meet those standards. If they can't, we'll come and tell you and we can do some things.

To make a long story short, very, very few kids did not meet the performance standards and we had two high schools in Wallingford and I used to do the graduation at one of them back and forth, and the first year that we had a group of kids who met those standards for graduating, just as a throwaway line, in my graduation speech, I said and by the way, I congratulate you, you are the first class in the history of this school system that's had to meet fairly high performance standards for graduation. They got up and gave me a standing ovation for themselves. Their self-esteem went a heck of a lot higher than it would have been if we didn't do that.

One more thing, I'm a grandfather. I've got an eight year old grandson who moved this year from one school district to another. The one he moved to has much higher standards than the one he was in. And I was concerned about that. My wife and I talked about it, I talked to his -- I said what's going to happen, boom, boom, boom, boom. And initially he walks in and he starts to say I was the smartest kid in the class last year all of a sudden I'm behind these kids, boom, boom, boom.

By January, they had brought him up to speed and he's saying to me now, I feel a lot -- quote unquote this past weekend -- gramps, I feel a lot better about myself. I now know I know more than I would have known if I was someplace else. So raising standards by itself does not lower self-esteem. Raising standards and not helping kids meet them, that will kill them. But when you raise standards and you help kids meet them, their self-esteem really goes up and I think that's what we have to concentrate on.

REP. LeGEYT: I completely agree with you. We're not talking about the level of standards. What I'm concerned about is the rollout process whereby those standards are implemented in a way that allows each student to grow and maintain their self esteem and their self concept as a learner. Obviously your eight year old grandson is going to -- it's natural for everyone to want to better themselves and to be proud of themselves when they accomplish more than they thought they could.

That's just the -- and that's one of the underpinnings of our educational system. But the process whereby you get a student to a point where they can look back and say, I've done more than I thought I could, is a process that has be applied with a lot of sensitivity and compassion so that individually, students can be brought along at their speed and convinced that they can do more.

JOE CIRASUOLO: Absolutely.

REP. LeGEYT: So, I'm concerned about the rollout when I happen to look at the kindergarten math standards the other day and in June of the kindergarten year, students are being expected to add with fluency, which means that no manipulatives, just the abstract numbers which you know, the kindergarten year could well be spent gaining a sense of what those abstract symbols mean and yet in June, they're being required to add with fluency which means they see a math fact and in three seconds they need to respond.

And they're also being required to find missing addends. Normally you teach addition, you're working towards the sum at the end but having a kindergarten objective be to identify a missing addend, in other words, how many more do we need to make this number. That's complicated for a five year old especially if they haven't had any early childhood preparation.

So, I'm just concerned about the rollout and with the lack of phasing that is apparently not in place I'm worried that children won't rise to the occasion that they'll suffer diminution in their self concept as learners and I think that should be a much higher priority than whether or not school districts buy in or whether or not other groups are satisfied with the process. I'm sure we have quite a few parents here today. They're here because of their children and that's the focus of what we're about.

JOE CIRASUOLO: The rollout is the most important thing, I agree with you 100 percent. But I think right now even as we are here, there are teachers all over this state doing the kinds of things that we've just been talking about to help kids meet the new standards. Excuse me for going back about my eight year old grandson. My wife is a retired reading language arts specialist and she looked at the Common Core state standards and they're supposed to be able to write metaphors in grade three. She said I don't think they can do that.

My grandson is writing metaphors in grade three right now in his school system. So, you know sometimes when we do it right, we can bring kids up. Now, is it being done everywhere? I wish I could tell you it is. No. Do we need to look at rollout? Absolutely. Do we need to look at it on a regular basis? Absolutely. But again, we don't do that by putting a moratorium on things. We instead put in place structures to help people improve the rollout where it needs to be improved and go from there.

REP. LeGEYT: Thank you.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you. Senator McKinney.

SENATOR McKINNEY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Joe, I just want to ask you to comment on two different things. The first is you mention and I think it's one of the more important things that has been stated today, is that there is intended to be flexibility for local districts as to how they would get kids prepared to meet whatever the standards are that are there.

And so what I'm hearing, and I haven't been to ever town in the state, obviously, and I haven't talked to every superintendent, but what I'm hearing is frustration of parents that in their school districts they're being told we have to do it this way because of the Common Core. For example, my 8th grader has a new algebra book and it says algebra one, Common Core underneath it and the way she's being taught algebra is very different than what's happening right next door in Westport, evidence of flexibility.

But when parents come forward to question the new textbook that's being used as to why, how, when, where did we get to this, the answer is because of the Common Core. So I guess my first question is, is the flexibility and the understanding that there's flexibility, are our Board of Education's getting that in making decisions?

JOE CIRASUOLO: Well, I don't know who they're hearing this from --

SENATOR McKINNEY: Because I'm also hearing that from other towns where people are saying we're told we have to do it this way, for example, how much time they spend in the classroom in small groups teaching each other versus instruction from teachers. My daughter for example, will sit at a small table with other students where they are self instructing a lot longer than is happening at other school districts.

JOE CIRASUOLO: Yeah. Well, you're talking about two different things. One is selection of materials and why they're doing it. I would hope that the response from the people who made the decision to buy that text book was we took a look at what the standards are that the kids need to meet, we have a process whereby we examined a number of different materials and made the decision that this is the one in the best interest for the kids.

Because you could select a good number of different instructional programs from different vendors and just claim I have to do it because of the Common Core. I mean, I would hope that the thinking process goes a little further than that and if it doesn't, then I think whoever -- the parents in that district need to talk to the Board of Education about that quite frankly.

As far as methodology, how many small groups and so on, that's always been -- if the Common Core never existed, we would have different places with different instructional methodologies they think are best for the kids in front of them. So that's not really related to the Common Core.

SENATOR McKINNEY: And I don't disagree with you. I guess what I'm hearing in one small part of the state is that some of the answers to all of the questions is, well we're forced to do from Common Core. Now, that may be inaccurate but it may be leading to what is a great deal of frustration, some might I believe justified, but it may be adding unnecessarily so I just wanted to bring that to your attention.

JOE CIRASUOLO: If everything people are doing they start attributing to the Common Core is inaccurate, it leads to confusion and it needs to be clarified.

SENATOR McKINNEY: My second thing is just briefly, to make a comment and give you a chance to respond, I hear as a little bit inconsistent the position that the group that's been put together we should let them work, see what direction they want us to go in, in better implementing it, but let's not stop with the implementation. Shouldn't we at lease pause until that group has a chance? Because if something's working going forward now that the group recommends was the wrong way to do it, have we further worsened the problem? I guess, I just hear that as maybe inconsistent and I want you to have an opportunity to explain that.

JOE CIRASUOLO: Actually I don't think it is inconsistent. There is no change process I'm aware of in any field that will be put in place effectively if you stop it, look at it, then do some things and stop it and look at it, because as soon as you stop it, things don't stop. Say you put a moratorium on the Common Core, what is the teacher going to teach tomorrow? If you can't teach the Common Core, what do you teach? You go back to the stuff you used to have, whatever.

SENATOR STILLMAN: Excuse me, I don't know if you finished with your remark. It appeared as though you were being disturbed by some voices behind you.


SENATOR STILLMAN: I'd appreciate it if people would be respectful of the witnesses. Thank you.

JOE CIRASUOLO: What we know about changed processes is, that you -- unless you have some evidence that is very overwhelming that you need to stop it. And what I'm telling you is everything I'm hearing from our members is that evidence just is not there. That you continue the process, you work out structures for monitoring it and implementing it and the core group is one thing. There could be other -- in fact there probably should be some other venues and other entities that do the same thing. And you allow the process to go forward. You're not going to improve a process if you stop it.

SENATOR McKINNEY: I appreciate your answer. Thank you, Mr. Chairman for your time.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you, Senator. Other questions for the witness? Senator Stillman.

SENATOR STILLMAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And just a quick comment if I may. I want to thank you for taking so much time to explain the position of the Association. It was very valuable in terms of better understanding of the two bills we have in front of us. I am -- I believe the PEAC process is not perfect, I don't know of any process that is, but certainly I think we can get results faster by moving along with that process and with the new committee that the Governor has formed. It's my hope that they will meet sooner rather than later and they can get on with their business and then next year once they have the input of their public hearings, et cetera, et cetera, because I don't want people to think this is the one and only opportunity to even have a public discussion, it is not, that let the processes move forward and come back with some recommendations to either the State Board of Education or for some Legislation if necessary. But I want to thank you for your work and for all the superintendent's work and adding some clarity to this situation. Thank you.

JOE CIRASUOLO: And I thank you and the members of the committee as well. You're all part of the process.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you. You are free to go, free to roam about the country. Representative Art O'Neill to be followed by Donna Kosiorowski.

ARTHUR O'NEILL: Good afternoon, Senator Stillman, Representative Fleishmann and members of the Education Committee. I'm testifying here today on behalf of my many constituents and teachers who have contacted me to express their concerns about the Common Core project. As I listened to them over the last months, I have pondered what they had to say and I've drawn some conclusions which I hope might be helpful in considering the Legislation that's before you.

Common Core as they are understanding it currently implemented, seems to cause school systems to not merely set goals for all students within a particular grade level, which in my view is somewhat problematic given the diversity of the population that we have, not just in the State of Connecticut but across the country, but it doesn't just set these standards, these targets that they're supposed to achieve, but it seems to as it's being presented to the teachers, call for essentially one route to the destination. And

I understand that this is contrary to much of the testimony that you've been hearing by folks on behalf of Common Core who from the top level are saying that it is full of opportunities for various ways to get there. What the teachers seem to be hearing is, there's a particular destination we need to get to and there's really only one route to get there in terms of satisfying the standards.

And I guess the comparison I would make is that even Google and MapQuest usually when you say you want to go someplace, give you a couple of options. And it is not clear to the teachers that I'm talking to, that they have options. They're being given the impression that there is really just one way to get to these higher standards.

Secondly, and I understand that there is the Smart Balance test, but that's a separate entity that one of the things that concerns them is that Common Core itself never really had an assessment tool, a way to evaluate whether you're really successful or not or whether it's successful or not. So we really don't have a way other than this independent type of testing, this other system, to try to assess whether Common Core itself is working or not.

And thirdly, it seems, again talking to teachers that Common Core seems to be aimed at trying to prepare pupils from Kindergarten and first grade for college. And that means the creators of Common Core believe that they know what college will be like in 10 or 12 years. Now, if you look back at what college was like 10 or 15 years ago, it's very different today. And one thing I think we could all agree on, that whatever it's going to be, it's going to be different 10 years from now from what it is today and it will probably from what people think it's going to be, even someone who's trying to make an assessment of what college will look like 10 or 15 years from now. Because we just never get these things right but we're going to prepare everybody based on assuming that we know what's it's all going to look like.

One example and I understand it's part of the test, testing regime, but is the use of the touch screens. Now we all have some kind of telephone that we carry around that's got a touch screen, many people have various tablets and everybody's using a touch screen today. None of us were doing that 10 years ago and that was a technology that didn't exist, we were doing something else. Ten years from now when people are hitting college or 12 years from now when these students are starting to go to college, there will be a different kind of technology probably very different from what we're using today, which is supposed to get them all ready and ramped up for going to college.

And I guess a way of looking at it that struck me was, I started asking myself how would Common Core work if we applied it to the Legislature instead of the educational system? Would we say that all Legislators have to have a 100 percent attendance record on the floor of the House or the Senate? Would we say that all Legislators have to introduce and pursuit a passage one bill per session? Or that all Legislators should give one speech per session in each of their committees? And how would that kind of a system work? Would it produce the kind of results that we think a Legislature is supposed to produce? And yet someone outside this building could very well recommend such a system. Thank you.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you. And I want to observe that you were the beneficiary of a timer that didn't quite go off so you got a little extra time. You know before we move to questions, you like all of us in the Legislature you're an elected official, you're also a leader and I do think it's important when people present to you information that is just inaccurate, that you're able to correct it. So, you said that you had heard from educators who express grave concern that the Common Core represented one route to gaining knowledge.

So this committee held a six hour public forum on the Common Core from people who were involved in designing it and if there is anything that emerged clearly, it is that the Common Core is a set of standards and that every district in this state is given latitude on how to reach those standards and within districts there are many districts that provide latitude to teachers on how they reach the standards. So for anyone who you talk to who thinks that there is one state prescribed route to achieving certain learning goals, you need to let them know that that is not the policy of the State of Connecticut, period.

Are there questions from members of the committee? Representative Ackert.

REP. ACKERT: Thank you, Mr. Chairman and thank you, Representative O'Neill for your testimony and your perspective from the teachers in your communities and maybe there is some miscommunication. I think we've addressed that in terms of support, in terms of really strong support from the State Department of Education to help our districts out. Is it that they feel that -- because each district has to develop what many people don't know is that there's a set of Common Core state standards and each district is obligated to develop the curricula which in some we've heard earlier have collaborated to help that, but each district has to design their own curriculum to meet the levels of the standards. Are they saying that the curriculum, is it that your point was is that the curriculum is kind of handcuffing them, is that what their concerns were?

ARTHUR O'NEILL: Basically, yes. The curriculum in spite of there may be someone saying at the design level, there will be lots of opportunities for creativity and innovation and that sort of thing and alternative ways of approaching it. What the teachers that I'm talking to seem to be getting as the message, and I guess I would use this expression, you know it's not so much what people say, it's what people hear that's important.

And what the teachers I'm hearing from are hearing, is that in fact, they will be given a target and basically there's really just one way to get to that target. That they have to get to a particular goal within the standards and they're not going to have the same opportunities that they've had up to now for their own creative ways to trying to teach children.

REP. ACKERT: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you. Other questions for the witness? If not, I just would like to observe, what we hear when it's incorrect it should be corrected. So I just want to share with you that I heard that there were people concerned that in taking the new Smarter Balance Assessment they would be required to give their political affiliation and religious affiliation. Ludicrous and wrong, I heard it. You hear all sorts of things on the internet. So I would encourage you again, as a leader to make sure that you're correcting things you hear that are wrong. Thank you very much for being an advocate for your constituents as I know you are.

We will now hear from Donna Kosiorowski to be followed by Representative Kevin Ryan.

DONNA KOSIOROWSKI: Good afternoon, Senator Stillman and Representative Fleishmann and nice job with my last name. I'm here not to talk about Common Core. I'm going to talk about Raised Bill 5521, AN ACT CONCERNING THE STORAGE AND ADMINISTRATION OF EPINEPHRINE AT PUBLIC SCHOOLS AND PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS. I'm the nursing supervisor for the West Haven Board of Ed; I'm associated with the Association of School Nurses, the Connecticut Nurses Association and AFT.

Medication -- the administration of medication especially emergency medication is a grave responsibility for the trainer as well as the trainee. Unlike daily medications with an anticipated administration and a controlled mode of administration, emergency medications are unplanned. Unlike daily medications, emergency medications are dependent on the assessment of the individual, signs and symptoms and the individual response to those symptoms and the response to the medication as well as the care that follows.

Nurses are trained to assess and provide a response to individual situations. Symptoms of anaphylaxis are not always what you typically think of -- difficulty breathing, hives, you know, noticeable things. They can be more subtle than that and they can also be mistaken for other emergency situations. They're not easily recognized, they're unique from individual to individual, and even in the same individual, each incident can be different.

You're going to hear from people, I would assume today, who are supporting or opposing this bill. At this time we believe that there's a need for specific qualifications and training. Last Legislative session you passed Legislation and we're very grateful that you did, that convened a school nurse advisory council which is a multi-disciplinary group that's been meeting since 2013. One of your directives to the council was for us to come up with protocols for the administration of emergency medications.

We are asking you to delay passage of this Legislation until the school nurse advisory council brings you their recommendations in 2015. At that point, we will have more information as to the safety of the Legislation you're proposing now. We are definitely not opposed to having access to epinephrine in schools, but we are concerned that we're putting the cart before the horse. So please let the school nurse advisory council do their work and we'll be back here next year with recommendations for you that are safe for everyone involved. Thank you.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you for your timely testimony. Questions from members of the committee? Representative Stillman.


REP. FLEISHMANN: Sorry, Senator Stillman.

SENATOR STILLMAN: That's okay. I was the Representative at one time and we are all representing whether it's in our title or not. The bill itself -- and first of all, thank you for being here and reminding us about the advisory council. Is this particular issue one that the advisory council is looking at?

DONNA KOSIOROWSKI: Yes. We made our recommendations for the due date of February first this year and the recommendations for emergency medications were not in there. That's our charge for next year. We'll be reconvening again this month and every month and we'll be presenting our recommendations to you by February first of 2015.

SENATOR STILLMAN: Thank you and we'll look forward to that. The bill also discusses storage of epinephrine in schools and not just the administration. Do you have any opinion on that part of the bill?

DONNA KOSIOROWSKI: As far as storage? We actually do have stock Epi -- epinephrine in our school district with an order from our physician our school medical advisor. We believe that the epinephrine shouldn't be locked in a cabinet. We keep it in an emergency bag so that we're ready to respond or in individual cases with children who have known allergies, either the child is allowed to carry the epinephrine with them, teachers carry it in a fanny pack because we want that epinephrine to be with that child so there's -- or adults for that matter, so there's no delay in administration.

SENATOR STILLMAN: Thank you very much and please thank the council for their work.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you for your testimony. I just have a simple question. The bill that's before this committee is actually based on federal law that went into effect last year that essentially incentivized states to make epinephrine injections more widely available because we all know there are dangerous episodes that happen more and more often with the increased levels of allergies that we find among children. So what the federal law said was, if you make epinephrine available in the following locations in the following ways, if you store it in the following ways, then you will qualify for additional federal immunization funds for children. So that's the basis for this bill because that statute went into effect late last year.

Given that context, might it not make sense for the state to move forward in order to broaden the access to epinephrine, access the federal funds and then potentially tweak what we do based on input from the school nurses next year?

DONNA KOSIOROWSKI: I think I want to be clear. It's not the access that we're concerned about. We believe that access is necessary. We're not opposing that. What we are concerned about is who is going to have access to that epinephrine for non-diagnosed reactors. The assessment of a first time reaction is not something that is easily managed or easily identified and it takes some training which nurses are trained to do, especially the subtle signs and symptoms. And that's the concern; it's the first time reactors that have never been diagnosed before. And I believe or we believe that the Legislation is indicating that non-medical people should be making that decision. That's an assessment decision that's definitely in the realm of the health professional.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you. I'll check with our LCO attorneys. I think our goal is to make the epinephrine more widely available but not necessarily to fiddle with who has the power to make the decisions.

DONNA KOSIOROWSKI: Okay. Then if that's the case, I think access to epinephrine and my colleagues would agree that that is an important issue and we would definitely support that.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you for the clarification and we'll work with you on that. Senator Bartolomeo.

SENATOR BARTOLOMEO: Thank you and I was going along the same lines and just trying to really understand what your exact objection was and I'm still a little bit confused about one thing. So I've actually had to administer epinephrine when a child went into anaphylaxis so I get that it can be extremely frightening and you're never quite sure, should I do it yet, should I wait, you know, do the Benadryl, not do the Benadryl, I get that. But isn't there somebody already in each school who would have to kind of had training to know that if there's a child with a prescription even? So is there not already somebody there who would be able to make that determination by training?

DONNA KOSIOROWSKI: I think, and if I misunderstand the Legislation, you can clarify that for me, but I think that the distinction between our support of this and our opposition to it lies with specifically what you said. Children that have prescriptions are known reactors. We already know that they have been diagnosed with anaphylactic reaction. Our concern is that this Legislation will open up the requirement that teachers and principals, coaches, paraprofessionals begin to make the decision that this child never had an anaphylactic reaction before, but we think they're having one now so we're going to use that epinephrine on a child who doesn't have a prescription nor has been diagnosed by a health care provider. That's the concern.

SENATOR BARTOLOMEO: Thank you. And I'll look at it again more closely as well, but I guess to my point, there's got to be someone in your school right now who's already trained to kind of recognize and if you have two of the three kinds of symptoms in the category it's considered anaphylaxis and there's pretty much a protocol to go by. But I will look at it a little bit more closely myself as well. Thank you.

DONNA KOSIOROWSKI: Yeah, because assessment comes under the nurse description not a non-medical person. That's the key to the whole thing -- who's making the determination that this is for an unknown reactor. Who's making the decision that it is anaphylaxis? It could be something else.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you. Any other questions for the witness? If not, thank you very much for your time and patience.

DONNA KOSIOROWSKI: Thank you very much.

REP. FLEISHMANN: We go to Representative Kevin Ryan to be followed by Melodie Peters.

KEVIN RYAN: Senator Stillman, Representative Fleishmann, members of the Education Committee, thank you for the opportunity to submit this testimony to your committee. Obviously I have a different view point from the previous presenter. I'm writing in support of House Bill 5521, AN ACT CONCERNING THE STORAGE AND ADMINISTRATION OF EPINEPHRINE AT PUBLIC SCHOOLS AND PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER EDUCATION. As noted, I'm State Representative Kevin Ryan of the 139th District.

Food allergies sometimes can lead to life threatening allergic reaction or anaphylaxis are a large and growing public health problem in the United States and in Connecticut. Experts have estimated that one out of 13 children in the U.S. have a food allergy, a considerably higher number than previously believed. A food allergy is one of the number of allergies that can result in a life threatening anaphylaxis.

Connecticut addresses this serious issue currently by allowing previously diagnosed children with anaphylaxis to receive life saving medication administered through an epinephrine auto injector by a school nurse other trained school personnel. This bill would expand current law by allowing nurses and trained school personnel to administer an epinephrine auto injector to a previously undiagnosed student.

Since 2011, 26 states have passed school access Legislation similar to House Bill 5521. Although there is a limited data on anaphylaxis, what we do know is very concerning. Massachusetts Department of Public Health survey of schools found that 24 percent of anaphylactic reactions occurred in individuals who were not known to be at risk of life threatening allergies.

Nearly six million or eight percent of children in the U.S. have food allergies, one in 13. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that food allergies result in more than 300,000 ambulatory care visits a year among children under the age of 18. Food allergies account for 30 percent of fatal cases of anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis results in approximately 1,500 deaths annually. Over the past three years there have been a number of anaphylactic related tragedies around the country and schools and public places. Deaths in Illinois, Georgia and Virginia, California, Texas and New York resulted in significant attention to the issue and much discussion on how to best address it in schools and elsewhere.

At least 36 states now allow or required schools to stock and administer epinephrine auto injectors. Last year the American Red Cross launched a training program on anaphylaxis and the administration of epinephrine auto injectors and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued voluntary guidelines for managing food allergies.

In 2010 the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, a division of the National Institute of Health, introduced the guidelines for the diagnosis and management of food allergy in the United States. These guidelines state that epinephrine is the first line treatment for anaphylaxis. epinephrine works to relieve the life threatening symptoms of anaphylaxis giving affected individuals more time to seek additional emergency medical treatment.

The more rapidly anaphylaxis develops, the more likely the reaction is to be severe and potentially life threatening. It is critical to have prompt recognition of signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis and be prepared with the epinephrine auto injector close at hand. This is why it is so important that the Connecticut schools stock epinephrine auto injectors and train school personnel to recognize anaphylaxis and to administer epinephrine auto injectors. Our schools need to be better prepared to help our students in the even of anaphylactic emergency. Thanks for your time and your consideration today and I ask the committee to support this bill.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you for your time and the research that you clearly put into this issue. We appreciate it. Are there questions or comments from members of the committee? Senator Stillman.

SENATOR STILLMAN: Thank you. Thank you, Kevin for the details in your testimony, first of all. Second of all, I'd like to ask, have you heard from constituents in your district about this issue and the concern that the parents are having that their children might not be receiving attention?

KEVIN RYAN: No, not from my District specifically, but from people in the state, yes. It's become an issue I think that's been reported and kind of something when you saw how many other states have found it to be an important issue, it's something I thought we should be looking at.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Other questions for the distinguished Deputy Speaker? If not, thank you very much for your time.

KEVIN RYAN: Thank you.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Melodie Peters to be followed by Representative Terrie Wood if she's still in the area.

MELODIE PETERS: Good afternoon.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Good afternoon and welcome. And if you and your --

MELODIE PETERS: Senator Stillman, Representative Fleishman and members of the committee.

REP. FLEISHMANN: If you could in addition to introducing yourself, make sure the person you brought with you introduces herself that would be great.

MELODIE PETERS: I will, thank you, Mr. Chairman. I'm pleased to have Patty Fusco with me who is the Vice President for AFT Connecticut overseeing our Pre-K through 12 council and any specific sort of questions that you might have about education I thought would best come from a practitioner.

So I am Melodie Peters and President of AFT Connecticut. We're getting to be familiar with one another. I do represent 29,000 members; 15,000 of those are school related personnel, teachers, including paraprofessionals and school nurses. I'm going to be very brief because I have a number of comments to make and we'll start with Senate Bill 425, the state educational resource center. I'll simply say that 94 percent of its funding comes from public dollars whether it's national or state funding and it should operate, in my opinion, in our opinion, truly as a state agency and not a quasi-public agency. We were a bit disappointed that that was the choice that was taken by the State Department of Ed.

On House Bill 5520, which is the availability of online study skills curriculum, the bill doesn't specify how the instruction would be provided in this format. Generally students that need this kind of remediation need more of a one on one experience. And so we would welcome a study on the effectiveness of this in the K-12 settings and would appreciate your taking no action on House Bill 5520 unless you decide to study it further.

On House Bill 5521, the epinephrine, did a very good job representing all her constituents. I would just simply say that you know as an organization we have been promoting and championing a nurse in every school and this is a perfect example of why we do need a trained medical person on board.

Now the paraprofessional staffing levels, I thank you for recognizing this need and we would ask that you create a mechanism to understand the full impact of the losses that are created by our loss of paraprofessionals in the education system and make recommendations for improvement. I urge you to act favorable on House Bill 5523.

Now, probably the two bills that everybody wants me to comment on, one would be House Bill 5078 and that's the moratorium on the Common Core state standards. I just love what Joe Cirasuola said. I really do. And we don't agree on all things, but I did love what he said, that not giving -- by stopping something you're not giving it an opportunity to improve and I really do agree with that wholeheartedly. We have endorsed as a union the Common Core standards. We are grateful that the Governor through a well thought out executive order is implementing the Common Core task force giving stakeholders a seat at the table for dialogue and problem solving that will lead to the best practices and implementation of this. I do think that it's time to discuss this further, not to put the brakes on.

Lastly, on Hill 53 -- so I would say that we are opposed to that bill. Lastly, House Bill 5331, the PEAC guidelines. This body chose to put PEAC into statute and it allows for it to be able to identify and move forward implementation and that's what this PEAC committee is doing. The leadership of the caucuses including the Governor listened to what our educators have been saying for some time now and we brought recommendations to the PEAC; we have flexibility that has -- quite has not been implemented but it's in the process. We also know that more tweaking needs to be done and that process is being set up. I am a very big proponent of process and if you have something in place, you know, and you don't like the way it's going, then fight to change it. But it's the process that was dealt to us. So I appreciate what this bill in all good intentions wants to do to codify the PEAC flexibility standards that we've created but it's not necessary.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you very much for your testimony and for your work on behalf of your members and your teachers. Are there questions, comments from members of the committee? Senator Stillman.

SENATOR STILLMAN: Thank you. Thank you, Melodie for your thoughtful testimony on all those bills. I've been writing away here. In terms of the PEAC bill, there was I think a comment made and I'm not sure by whom, it's been a few hours since we started, that maybe PEAC should meet more often. Do you have any response to that?

MELODIE PETERS: I actually do and thank you, Senator, for the question. I do think that if you want address issues, it's best to keep the dialogue going and not reconvene at intermittently when it's convenient. So, I would definitely say and certainly in looking at some of these other concerns we have that we hope will be addressed in an expedited fashion, that PEAC would meet more often.

SENATOR STILLMAN: Thank you. There's nothing that prohibits them from meeting more often, correct?

MELODIE PETERS: You're correct, yeah.

SENATOR STILLMAN: Thank you. And one other question and I feel terrible, I've forgotten your seatmate's name there.

PATTY FUSCO: I'm Patty Fusco.

SENATOR STILLMAN: Patty -- I had Fusco in mind, but I forgot your first name. I apologize for that. Can you in terms of the Common Core bill issue that's in front of us today, can you give us any feedback in terms of what you're hearing from your members who are in the classroom?

PATTY FUSCO: There's been a lot of confusion I think between what is Common Core and what is SBAC. And once we had straightened that out, our members are not really opposed to Common Core. High standards are a good thing. You have to set the bar where you want people to go, you don't set it low, you set it high and you hope that people -- and people will reach where you set it.

That being said, we have also worked for the last -- in my district, the last two or three years changing our curriculum since 2010, so three years, to make it -- to adopt the standards and make the curriculum able to produce results. It's a work in progress. It's being tweaked every year. It was frustrating for teachers because no one likes change, everyone likes to do what they've always done. But the reality is, if you're a teacher and you have students, you realize that you can't keep doing what you were doing because you're going to just keep getting the same results.

You have to change, you have to change to meet the demands because society has changed, education has changed, what's expected of students has changed so therefore, we -- I think most of our membership, although they don't like the way it's being implemented, it's being rushed, a lot of things are being blamed on Common Core that are not Common Core. I think in all, we do believe in higher standards.

SENATOR STILLMAN: Thank you for that. You know, I've been listening to folks for quite some time, not just today but before today, I'm getting confused as what people really are objecting to because it's oh, if they don't like something, they blame the Common Core and I'm afraid we're painting it with such a broad stroke that we're not getting into the weeds so to speak as to where the real issues are. In terms of the speed of the implementation which you mentioned, the fact that we now are sort of due to the Governor and the Legislative leaders position on this and I believe it was an executive order by the Governor to establish the committee, et cetera, and sort of let's receive more input before we move even further along, but not stop the process. Have you heard anything from your members about -- either one of you -- about the importance of that direction?

MELODIE PETERS: Well, let me say, we've kept our members informed and they're delighted that this process is going forward. We have not gotten -- I have not since my name is on all the eblasts, gotten a negative response. I can't speak for Patty, but I do think our members really appreciate the art of dialogue and being addressed as a true stakeholder in the process and so they're waiting and they're seeing. They're optimistic that this is going to work. And I need to say also, for full disclosure, Patty is going to be a member of that Common Core task force. So we're very happy that she was appointed to that. So we're looking forward and not behind. And since I have a second, I want to compliment the committee on the Common Core presentation that you did, panel discussion because it was very informative and even I learned a great deal. So thank you.

SENATOR STILLMAN: Thank you very much and good luck, Patty as you get into the weeds as I mentioned and come up with some resolution to people's concerns and thank you for serving. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

REP. FLEISHMANN: A follow up question on the Chair's question. So you've had a nice dialogue going on with your members involved in education it sounds like and I'm just wondering if there was a colleague who came before us and testified that a lot of his constituents were under the impression that there was a single route available to reach the Common Core standards which is contrary to my understanding of how it's supposed to work. I'm just wondering what you've been hearing from your members about the level of latitude they've had in trying to make sure that their students can reach the Common Core goals.

PATTY FUSCO: I think in some cases that has been the case. I think that some Districts have taken the approach of this is what you have to do and this is the time period that you have to do it in and so on. I hope that that's one of the things that the task force is going to be able to look at. Because standards are standards, they're not a curriculum. And the curriculum needs to be mindful of the individual differences of the children that are affected by it.

MELODIE PETERS: I would also add that the Districts aren't taking full advantage of the flexibility that's built into this as well. Because they're inundated with all kinds of change these days; it's much easier to look at a one size fits all rather than the flexibility of being able to be your own designer. So I think that's what's causing some problems as well.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you. I appreciate that clarification. It sounds to me like there are Districts that taking an approach that is contrary to what the state has laid out and would prefer. So we appreciate that. Senator Bartolomeo.

SENATOR BARTOLOMEO: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Hello, I actually think that a lot of the confusion with people that all get piled onto blame for Common Core is really about the three initiatives that are happening and the timing by which they're happening and the overlap of the SBAC and the seed and the Common Core and all of that. But there is one very specific area that I'm concerned about for Common Core itself and I'm so glad that Patty is going to be serving on the committee so I decided to ask you as most appropriately I think, this very specific issue.

There is an absence of standards for the younger children when it comes to social emotional development and then one other kind of outlier is apparently there's nothing about cursive. Now that might be curriculum as opposed to standards, so I was wondering if you could just address about cursive.

And then the other thing is the social emotional and the absence of standards. What will happen? Are we expecting our teachers to create additional curriculum that is about social emotional even though there's not a standard for it? Because that's something that came up in the forum we had last week which to me seemed a little unusual.

If there's not a standard, how much more time do you all have that you can address social emotional development? But it's very important in my opinion. So would you mind, telling me your thoughts on that because you're going to be on the committee and I'm hoping that you bring that up?

PATTY FUSCO: I will bring that up. There is no social emotional curriculum, but I'm not sure that there was before. I think it is embedded in what you do in preschool and in kindergarten, you teach those behaviors and even we do it through all the grades. We have our guidance counselors in our school, social workers doing lessons in classrooms with or without a curriculum to teach the children how to get along, how to handle stress and how to do all kinds of things.

SENATOR BARTOLOMEO: And I appreciate that that isn't an ideal situation and I think that there are some districts that certainly have the ability to do that. But as someone who -- I was on the City Council, I was the liaison to the Board of Education, PTO President and very involved mom, it has changed dramatically from the time my 17 year old kindergarten to my 12 year old being in kindergarten. There is no time any longer for those skills to be taught, that play based learning which really teaches conflict resolution and even fine motor control issues. So I guess my hope would be that there will be people on that committee that might have some influence in making sure that there's an opportunity to integrate those things into the curriculum even though there's an absence of that in the standards.

PATTY FUSCO: I would agree with you 100 percent. You have to teach them when they're young how to get along and all of that kind of stuff and there has to be time within the day. It's hard in two and a half hours which a lot of districts still have, half time kindergarten, two and half hours there's a lot to get in. So I agree with you. As far as cursive, I don't think a lot of people have been teaching cursive for a lot of years now because as you keep adding stuff to the curriculum, something has to go and unfortunately, that's one of the things that I think a lot of teachers who get it in when they can, but it's not concentrated on. When I was in school we had hours and hours of learning of how to form our letters properly. I'm not sure that we have the time to do that, so I'm not sure that is being done.

SENATOR BARTOLOMEO: So my request to you would be if you could as our liaison to that committee, if you could bring that up. Because even if you go to D.C. now with your kids, if they don't know how to read and write cursive, they can't read the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence. My oldest son is in a personal finance class -- how do they even know how to sign checks? You can't print on a check. So, you know those were my big hot points when it comes to Common Core itself and I don't agree that we should stop it, but I do think that there needs to be further thought given to those areas. Thank you.

MELODIE PETERS: Duly noted, Senator.

PATTY FUSCO: Definitely.

MELODIE PETERS: Just one thing. How happy am I that I brought Patty along.

SENATOR STILLMAN: Good call on that one. Representative Davis.

REP. DAVIS: Thank you, Madame Chair and I'm happy you brought Patty along too. Patty, congratulations on your appointment. Knowing you and all the great work that you've done, I'm sure you will be a very fine voice for our young people. You mentioned -- the other thing I wanted to mention, we're working on the two and half hour, the kindergarten issue and I just looked at recent statistics, 88 percent of our young people, our kindergarten students in the state are now at full day kindergarten. So we have a very small minority in your district that we're working on.

You mentioned that your district has implemented the Common Core curriculum to address the standards. What have they done to support the teacher education that goes along with the curriculum? Staff development wise, how are they handling that? Because this is feedback I get from teachers, not in your district but from other districts that there hasn't been enough support for the teachers in professional development addressing Common Core.

PATTY FUSCO: In our district at the beginning of the school year, before we had to teach anything, we were given two days of intensive professional development in elementary, I'm speaking for elementary and English language arts and in math on the curriculum. We also have coaches and literacy and math coaches in our district who do mini lessons so to speak, or model lessons at collaboration and data teams so that everyone is -- the curriculum is being supported by people who are experts in what it supposed to be. So in my district we're doing very well. It is not true everywhere.

REP. DAVIS: And just as a follow up, you work with young kids, and the Common Core, how have they been handling the Common Core in the classroom situation?

PATTY FUSCO: It's kind of difficult, because to be honest I teach talented and gifted children. So my children are looking forward to the tests. They're kind of upset there not going to get scores because they like that sort of stuff. On the one hand, and then there's the other ones of them that are so over competitive that they'll get themselves all worked up. I

I've been doing a lot of work with the it's important that you do well, but not to stress of it, type of talk. Our kids are not so upset about the curriculum because we re-teach if they don't get it. So if you take an assessment and you do poorly on it, it's kind of built of our schedule as far as how fast we're moving along to re-teach the concepts that -- and it's done on an individual basis. We also have SRBI which is Scientific Research Base Intervention where the children are grouped into small groups based on what they're specific needs are.

o if you are deficient in one area of this particular math unit, you might go to one group and we pull in all kinds of people, paraprofessionals, teachers, coaches, to make sure that the kids are being instructed in smaller groups rather than the whole class.

REP. DAVIS: Thank you. Thank you, Madame Chair.

SENATOR STILLMAN: Thank you, Representative. Representative Kokoruda.

REP. KOKORUDA: Thank you, Madame Chair. Good afternoon, I think it's still afternoon. Well, Patty now that you're the self-appointed liaison for Senator Bartolomeo to our committee, and a side script, I'd also like you to really talk about flexibility. I mean you both have addressed flexibility but I just want to give you something practical that happened in my district. My district set up teacher evaluation -- re-did it all a couple of years ago.

They go the community involved in the dialogue. For months community members met and talked about. Then they got -- and the teachers were there too. But then the teachers got involved and they worked on it and then the Mastery teachers in my town took it to another level with our administrators. We applied, talk about flexibility, prior to the PEAC revisions, we applied for a waiver. Of the 19 objectives we met 16 of them and we were turned down for the waiver. So, I think you say towns, districts don't know about and not applying for flexibility.

I think a lot of them are afraid of it because they're not being -- it wasn't really being afforded to them. And until PEAC revisions and my concern about the PEAC revisions is they're short term and I am very concerned about it. So when you go on the task force, and congratulations, flexibility, one size doesn't fit all with evaluations, with our teachers, with our different districts and I think that has to be recognized. Thank you.

MELODIE PETERS: Could I just respond to that because I think you raised up some issues that we've had for some time now. And it's not necessarily the pudding, but it's the proof in the pudding and how this has rolled out and been implemented. We have some concerns about that. We chose to deal with it internally and try to resolve that. But your district isn't alone. There are a number of districts that have been for what -- various reasons, been rejected or encouraged. So we're trying to work our way through that, Representative and we thank you for your concerns because we share those.

SENATOR STILLMAN: All set? All set Representative Kokoruda? Okay, thank you. Representative Carpino followed by Representative D'Agostino.

REP. CARPINO: Thank you, Madame Chair. I just want to make sure I heard you right. I thought you indicated that you said that there are some issues that you have identified and that you're trying to work through them internally and I appreciate your candor. But I was curious as to what you could share about those because I have been contacted by teachers and educators as well as parents to hear their side of the story or their opinions on what they're enduring and the rollout and the support they may or may not be getting and the anxiety they have. So if you could just perhaps identify to me, some of the issues that you are in fact facing, it would help me put some perspective on some of these issues.

MELODIE PETERS: Are you talking about Common Core or are you talking about the flexibility through the PEAC?


MELODIE PETERS: Well, Patty can address the Common Core issues. We have raised some concerns without members through our process of meeting with our members. We've addressed their issues. Patty does it very well through her council and we bring those issues to the forefront. To me it's a negotiation process and I particularly don't like -- my style is to not negotiate publicly but do it internally with my members and the people I have to negotiate with. In terms of PEAC, it's the same thing. We belong to a coalition of public educators and that includes the superintendents and the administrators. There's PTO representatives on that, the two unions are on it and we are working in coalition now on some issues that we have brought to the attention of the administration and we'll also work through that process and system to bring it to PEAC.

PATTY FUSCO: I would agree with Melodie. As far as the Common Core, yes there are problems. We're very happy that there's going to be the task force to look at it and try to work those out. As far as the flexibility options and PEAC, and the teacher evaluation system, a lot of districts were under the impression or are under the impression that they have to go with seed or else pretty much and I'm very happy that PEAC has kind of made it the new flexibility options and hopefully districts will take advantage of that. Teachers have to serve on those committees thanks to the Legislation that was -- on the teacher evaluation committees -- that was passed. Through my council I make sure that -- I have made sure that the teachers, the Presidents of the unions or the representatives, know that what the options are and that they have the right to more or less advocate for that. There are problems I'm not going to say there aren't. Evaluations was probably one of the hardest things. Common Core was nothing compared to the evaluation system, frankly. And we were used to being evaluated in our district, but it's a lot. Especially when you want it all together.

MELODIE PETERS: You know and that's exactly what I said earlier. There's so much coming down on these districts that have to adjust, teachers have to adjust, there's clearly a level of frustration that your all hearing from. But we are in touch with our members. I know that my friends at CEA are doing the same. We have mechanisms to hear from them as well. But clearly, if you're that frustrated you're going to complain and you're going to reach out to anyone that is willing to listen. So I thank you for that, but understand that while nothing is going to be 100 percent, we are working very hard at addressing the majority of their issues.

REP. CARPINO: Thank you. And while you represent your members, I hope you understand so do we. So the fact that they have reached out to many of us, and identified concerns, you're putting us in a difficult position and recognizing that there are problems but not perhaps identifying them to us so that we can work on them. I believe that everybody here wants to put forward the best effort for our children and our educators in the state so it's particularly difficult at least for me personally, when folks come before me and indicate that there are issues but they don't necessarily want to speak about them publicly in a public forum. So that's where some of my concerns and frustration arise.

MELODIE PETERS: I don't dispute that and I respect that position but I served in the Senate for 12 years, I know exactly what you're dealing with your members, your constituents.

SENATOR STILLMAN: Thank you. Representative D'Agostino followed by Representative Srinivasan.

REP. D'AGOSTINO: Thank you, Madame Chair. Good afternoon. How are you? I agree with you. I want to talk about the PEAC guidelines specifically a little bit further and I agree with you that Bill number 5331 as drafted, is certainly completely objectionable to me especially because of the preamble that would strip the State Department of Ed from the power of broad funding when it's needed critically right now.

I am however somewhat perplexed at AFT and CEA and some others willingness to seed the process to a PEAC committee that as we've heard a couple of times today, doesn't meet as regularly as it should and let's be honest, PEAC wasn't exactly in the forefront of making these guidelines happen. It was only after a cacophony of criticism by members -- your members, CEA members, members of this committee, and letter from the Governor and the Legislative leadership that they implemented these guidelines.

But I hear what you're saying and what I've read from CEA's testimony, that I gather the unions would prefer -- the leadership of the unions would prefer a hands off approach from this committee and I think that's what you're going to get. I hope that's what indeed all your members want. As we just heard, that's not exactly what we're hearing directly from them so I hope the membership and the union leadership are on the same page when it comes to that.

MELODIE PETERS: Yeah, and I appreciate the sincerity of your question. Our members want to see results. How we get there is another thing. We have in a dialogue with our members in and we are as leadership of the union, convinced through the process that is set up, that needs to change. I don't disagree with that. We can effect change quicker through the commission that's been set up by the Legislature rather than going through the entire session and at the end of the day, maybe end up with nothing. So, we are working very hard; we have a commitment that this is going to occur from the administration and we understand that change needs to occur and we're promoting that.

REP. D'AGOSTINO: I think the concern, certainly that I have, is what PEAC giveth, PEAC can taketh away and I also don't -- conceptually with respect to this bill, I think the union leadership and your members certainly agree with some of the core concepts, i.e., flexibility for a district to reduce the number of evaluations, reduce the number of goals.

In fact, we passed something at the end of last year that was meant to do that and I don't think it got communicated effectively enough throughout the districts. But I'll go back to what I was just saying which is a concern that, again, the idea of embedding those concepts into statutes isn't repugnant to me and I don't know if generally it will be repugnant to you and it's something that I think some of us here would be willing to support in terms of embedding in the statute that kind of flexibility for districts to indeed reduce the number of observations, reduce the number of goal setting.

I think that's something that by enlarge we support. Again, not in the way this language is crafted, I certainly agree with that. I see some nodding over there, so I'll let you comment on my comment.

PATTY FUSCO: No, I think that we would be in agreement that there is flexibility needed but I'm not sure that Legislatively it's the way to go.

REP. D'AGOSTINO: And I guess my question is though, are you satisfied that you are -- I guess what you're saying is that you are satisfied that the PEAC process will give you that flexibility. I guess I'm not as convinced of that given past experience and I'd be willing to support something here that embedded more flexibility for the districts. But I realize that's not exactly what's before us. But I wanted to get your thoughts on something like that.

MELODIE PETERS: I'm satisfied that from the Governor's office on down to the leadership are committed to working our issues through the PEAC process. And I believe that's going to happen and I think that sometimes we tend to over legislate having lived the dream myself. So I think we have a process here that we're committed to, that the leadership seems to be committed to and we're going to move through that process to address the concerns of our members that are in dialogue with us.

REP. D'AGOSTINO: Thank you.

SENATOR STILLMAN: Representative Srinivasan.

REP. SRINIVASAN: Thank you, Madame Chair. Thank you very much -- I'm here -- this way. I know we do a full circle. Thank you very much for your testimony and for all the questions you've been answering for the last half an hour or more. I just want to ask you what your opinion is and what your experience has been. I come from Glastonbury, I represent Glastonbury the 31st District.

And speaking to my Board of Ed on numerous occasions, speaking to my superintendent once again, in numerous occasions and to the teachers in my district, they are not so concerned on the Common Core, they're not so concerned about the testing, because luckily now, you know there's a trial period for the Smart Balance or the fact that they have a little flexibility there. They are happy about it because they'll be prepared, they know this is coming down the pike so this is a school system that has been working towards the fact that this is going to come down and let's get prepared and they're very thankful for the trial period they're going to have starting pretty soon.

Their concerns however have been as I'm sure you've heard this over and over again, is the teacher evaluations. That has been even in a district like mine that is not too concerned about the first two components, the third component, the teacher evaluation has been a big concern for them. And in my last meeting earlier this week, I was told that the Glastonbury Board of Ed has a applied to the State Board of Ed with their suggestions about the teacher evaluations and they are more than likely going to get approval about what we have asked for once again, showing that there's flexibility there and everybody doesn't have to do it the entire state because our requirements are different, we are prepared in different ways.

So if we get that approval then obviously my district is going to be quite happy with the teacher evaluations. So my question to you is, hearing from what Representative Kokoruda just said not too long ago about how they applied and they were not granted, is this process streamlined or this process of giving -- being in the opt in, opt out, have this flexibility, is that a work in progress or where do you think it is that where these communities, where these schools can feel comfortable that if this is what they want they can apply, obviously have a dialogue and at the end of a dialogue reach a mutually agreeable kind of a situation.

MELODIE PETERS: I don't know if Patty wanted to address this, but I know that we've just gotten the flexibility guidelines and like everything else, particularly in state government, it's like watching paint dry. But there is the opportunity now since there's been exposure to problems, to be able to drill down and address them quicker. Districts are now starting to understand their flexibility and it's advocates like us and like you, that can actually promote this. So, I'm very happy to hear that you're moving forward in your district, Representative, and I had only hoped that these questions were asked to the Commissioner when he was here earlier. But at the same token, he'd love to hear from you.

REP. SRINIVASAN: Thank you. Thank you, Madame Chair.

SENATOR STILLMAN: Thank you very much. Anyone else? No, we're all set. Oh, I'm sorry, Representative Molgano. There's so many people walking behind you that I didn't realize that you had raised your hand. Please go right ahead, Representative.

REP. MOLGANO: That's quite all right. Thank you, Madame Chair. Good afternoon and welcome and thank you for your testimony. I'm sorry if I'm going to ask you a question that may have already been asked. The Chairman of the State Board of Education, Mr. Taylor, said that during the draft of Common Core, that there was feedback solicited from teachers, administrators, hopefully and I just wanted to ask of you, were you aware of that process, do you know if any feedback was given? If so, if you saw any of it actually take effect in what we have today?

MELODIE PETERS: Patty, do you want to answer that because that was before my time.

PATTY FUSCO: I'm not aware of any but that's kind of before my time too as far as being in charge of pre-K through 12 Vice President. I can't really answer that. It wouldn't be fair. I didn't have any input.

MELODIE PETERS: I would like to say though that there was input at the national level. Probably a little bit later than when Common Core standards kicked off and there was input from the teachers organizations at that time. One of the things I find difficult and I think this answers some of the concerns that some have asked, is that we're maybe too much of a top down implementer of this new world and we've done less of the bottom up where we should be. And so I think that we're trying to change that so that there's more input from parents and teachers and so forth and so on.

SENATOR STILLMAN: Thank you, Representative. I appreciate it. Representative Lavielle and is there anyone else after Representative Lavielle because we do need to move on. So go right ahead, Representative.

REP. LAVIELLE: I will be very quick because there is so many people waiting to speak. I just wanted to verify something with you. You had said something about not -- when people complain, it's not really -- they complain so much it might not be necessary to listen to them. Are you saying that it really wasn't necessary to have this hearing?

PATTY FUSCO: Absolutely not.

MELODIE PETERS: Absolutely not, no. I never said that. I think these hearings are very important but we have an internal process, again, which we work with our members, we listen to them, we encourage one another and we bring those issues to the medium that we can negotiate in and right now we have that system in place to do that. And someone that -- it means no disrespect to you or your colleagues, it is the way we do business and I will leave it at that.

REP. LAVIELLE: Thank you. Thank you, Madame Chair.

SENATOR STILLMAN: Thank you. I thank you for that clarification. I certainly didn't get the impression from your comments that you had -- your implication that was raised so I thank you for your clarification. Thank you for all you're doing. Patty, obviously you're on the hook now of getting back to us so we'll look forward to that. Thank you, again.

MELODIE PETERS: Thank you, Senator.

SENATOR STILLMAN: Senator Markley. You've been waiting a while, Senator and it's your turn finally. And then Marianne Kirner will be next followed by Representative Terrie Wood.

SENATOR MARKLEY: Thank you, Senator Stillman, Representative Fleishman and members of the committee. I'm Joe Markley, the State Senator from 16th District in Southington and I have with me here somebody that I think that could be very illuminating to the group. Dr. Sandra Stotski. I will not go into her resume at depth, I'll just mention three things. She's received a doctorate in reading research from the Harvard Graduate School of Education; she was employed as a Senior Associate Commissioner at the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education where she was in charge of developing or revising state K through 12 standards, teacher licensure, administrator licensure regulations; and, she served on the Common Core validation committee and was one of the five members of that national committee who would not sign off on the standards as being validated. I think that her concerns about this are particularly illuminating and I will turn it over to Dr. Stotski.

SANDRA STOTSKY: Thank you. Am I close enough. Thank you very much for the opportunity to speak here. I come from Boston to speak here because I hope that this is the opening of a very badly needed process that would allow parents, teachers and State Legislators in particular, to become more aware of the details of the Common Core initiative and all of its various implications

I was on, as you just heard the Common Core validation committee from '09 to 10 and I was one of the two content experts on that committee. I was the English language arts expert and the other content expert was the only mathematician on this validation committee. Let me briefly explain what the function of the validation committee was. It was set up to look at several things about the standards that were being developed.

First, we were to assure that they were internationally benchmarked; second, that they were research based; third, that they were rigorous. And Professor Milgram from Stamford University could not conclude that they were internationally benchmarked, rigorous or research based. He was as I say, the only mathematician on this committee and I from the English language arts perspective could also not make the conclusion that they were -- they were these things that we were expecting them to be. Nor could we get information about the countries we were supposedly benchmarked to.

We certainly knew what the research evidence was. Professor Milgram's comments on the mathematics standards, I have had nobody refer to today. You have had nobody from higher ed which I think is a distressing omission and I mean higher ed from the engineering, mathematics or science departments at one of your major universities or colleges. You should be hearing from them. I was also on the State Board of Education in Massachusetts from '06 to 10 and I was simultaneously wearing many hats as you can see.

And one of the things that I wanted to have take place in Massachusetts very badly, was input from teaching faculty at our higher ed institutions. I couldn't get that meeting arranged because Massachusetts was already promising for $250 million to adopt Common Core standards. That was the race to the top offer.

So we have a situation in which the people who should be judging college readiness which would be higher ed people who teach freshman college courses for most of your seniors who go onto college in the state, were not there. We did have Jason Zimba who is the chief math standards writer for Common Core come for a March 210 meeting and I asked him to explain college readiness. This was his answer and it's on an official video tape. They are minimal readiness for non selective colleges.

If this is what Connecticut expects and wants, this is what you have. He said they do not prepare for STEM, that's science, technology, engineering and math. This is directly from him. This was Professor Milgram's observation. There is a gap between the weak algebra two standards that is where Common Core's math standards end and the beginning course that would need to be taken in mathematics if you wanted to be a mathematics, science, engineering, economics, computer science, finance and possibly other majors. So these are the people that you would need to hear from to get better information than I can give because they can read mathematics standards at the high schools.

REP. FLEISHMANN: The bell did ring a couple of minutes ago.


REP. FLEISHMANN: The bell indicated three minutes a couple minutes ago. If you could summarize.

SANDRA STOTSKY: Oh, all right. I will just say that I'll be happy to answer any questions about that and that I have prepared testimony that is available to you about the flaws in the English language arts standards as well as a fact sheet because of my experience on the validation committee and on the State Board in Massachusetts for four years until after the vote to adopt Common Core. I think I'll end at this point, that's about five minutes.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you. A very basic question. You indicated that you were one of the no votes on the Common Core standards. Do you recall what the overall vote tally was on the adoption of those standards?

SANDRA STOTSKY: Yes, there were between 25 and 29 members. The two content experts, Professor Milgram and I, voted against it, three other people did. All the rest did. Most of them were in schools of education connected to the testing industry or administrators in the public schools. That was all the rest of the others. But the only mathematician did not vote for them and the others were not mathematicians. They do not typically teach mathematics courses at the college level because there are a lot of people who do not understand what a mathematician is as opposed to a mathematics educator who is located in a school of education and does not teach the freshman math courses that your high school students would take when they went to college.

REP. FLEISHMANN: So to come back to my question, the tally of the vote regarding the Common Core was about 24 to --

SANDRA STOTSKY: It was all the other members. It might have been 24 or 25. There is a report on the web from someone, Dennis Doyle, who was asked to prepare a report but he does not -- that report does not indicate the minority positions because he was not given that information by the CCSSI project leaders. So you have a few content experts versus those who do not teach math or English at the college level.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Is it your testimony that the math standards are essentially not rigorous enough?

SANDRA STOTSKY: According to Professor Milgram, they are a disaster.

REP. FLEISHMANN: So for those on this committee who have testified before this committee who have said that the math is developmentally inappropriate and too demanding, you're coming from a different perspective in saying you think it needs to actually be --

SANDRA STOTSKY: That's a very good question. Because the problem for blanket judgments is that the standards change in their quality. At the very beginning they are developmentally inappropriate because they are too demanding in math for K, 1, 2. But as Professor Milgram points out and he is familiar with mathematics standards across the world, because mathematics is the same basically for anyone understanding what's in algebra and geometry, but middle grades they become very weak so that our students will be at least two grades behind their peers internationally and then by high school, he is saying they need to be totally revised which is the basis for what my major suggestion is as a matter of fact, to this committee and to the Governor as well, to set up a revision committee. But according to both Professor Zimba, he is now retired from Bennington College and Professor Milgram who is now emeritus from Stanford University, you are missing standards to get from algebra two to calculus one. And anyone who has been to an engineering college knows that you begin with about a calculus one level in order to complete four years. So this is the problem you face in Connecticut where you have a highly sophisticated parent and student body as well and what you need to be able to do instead of the Governor forming a task force, I would strongly recommend he form a revision committee to straighten out and strengthen the math standards because math is the language of science. It's not just math that is being hurt by Common Core's missing standards at the high school level which I cannot read because I am not mathematician, but your high school math teachers can tell you that. I have not heard from a high school math teacher here yet either, by the way. But your high school science teachers would also tell you that because math is underlying the lab based physics course in grade 12 as well as a pre-calculus course which your students badly need. Now I have heard from many people who will say, oh you can add whatever you want. But if the standards aren't there in Common Core, where do you get the standards from for those missing standards and missing course work. Within a couple of years the pipeline for STEM will shrink in the public schools. There's an equity issue here I want to bring up because public schools will not be preparing kids for STEM; private schools may be or parents who can afford tutors. But not public schools unless they have pressure from well to do parents or mathematically sophisticated parents who can say we need pre-calculus standards to get our kids to calculus.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you for that clarification. And let me just mention to you in terms of Connecticut's process. So we do have testimony that's come in from people involved with higher ed, from math teachers and so forth. You haven't heard from them yet because we're only at number 15 on a list that's 120 something long.

SANDRA STOTSKY: I agree I haven't heard that so far.

REP. FLEISHMANN: The list is determined by lottery. Are there questions from members of the committee? Representative Giuliano.

REP. GIULIANO: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Dr. Stotski, thank you very much for -- I'm over here. Thank you very much for your testimony today. I was reviewing your written testimony to the committee and it perhaps is my omission but I cannot find your comments about the Common Core standards not being internationally benchmarked. And if you could just briefly reiterate those because it's important as we move forward, and in terms of the pivotal focuses of Common Core, to create students who are college ready and we talk about the international community.

It has always seemed to me that in Connecticut in particular, we test all students and it takes quite a lot to be exempted from testing. And when you test most students, the result that you get is an averaging of all of those schools. Whereas in other countries, not all students receive similar percentages of testing. You may have kids who are already tracked for other divergent careers and paths in life. So what I'm trying to understand in your commentary is, are we really comparing apples to apples internationally and what would be your comments on how the Common Core standards are not, as they exist, internationally benchmarked?

SANDRA STOTSKY: The international benchmarking process would take a look at the high school level in particular, another index would be the introduction of standard algorithms in the elementary grades and I can come back to that later. But it would look at how many students for prepared for calculus and that information is available from other countries in terms of the coursework that is offered that is part of their high school syllabi.

Most countries don't actually have standards, they offer high school syllabi and they would show you that in, for example, Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, other east Asian countries, and in Flemish, Belgium, and I can go into that peculiarity at a different time, there are students who graduate from their high schools, many of them far more than we produce as a percentage, who are capable of going into STEM careers and they do.

So it's not a question of how many students you test, it's a question of what kind of coursework is available in your public high schools for students to achieve at a certain level in mathematics and science because the two piggyback -- I mean science piggybacks on math. So that is what is looked at for benchmarking. Do we have percentage wise, the kind of coursework that would enable students, are the standards there? We have Zimba who wrote the standards saying they don't prepare for STEM.

There isn't one other advanced country that would ever, ever do anything like that. Of course they prepare some students for some. They produce their own engineers, their own mathematicians and scientists. I mean every other country that we know of, wants that kind of progression available. It's not for high school graduation; we're not talking about diploma requirements for high school. Some people get confused about that. We're talking about college readiness for that four year major, which typically has been engineering and other four year majors, in STEM that should be available to all students in our public high schools.

Remember that public and private schools have always been able to do different things in this country and the public schools should offer for all students, those possibilities and if the standards are missing in Common Core; that is an equity issue. They should be in Common Core. That is why I am saying a revision should be undertaken to start with probably in grade five, but I'm not the most qualified person to talk about an accelerated math sequence, that would enable students to complete algebra one in grade eight, a traditional algebra one course; complete a traditional algebra two course so that they can get to calculus by grade 12.

I surveyed when I was in the Mass Department of Education, all of the engineering colleges in Massachusetts. There are about 12 of them. I asked what their math requirements were for admission -- now I'm not just talking about MIT, I'm talking about others, public engineering colleges. Four out of the 12 or so, said that calculus one was required for admission. You had to have taken it in high school. All the others, almost all of them said a solid course in trigonometry, which is not available through Common Core, was the necessary pre-requisite for admission to an engineering college in Massachusetts according to the information their deans gave us and that's all I can go on.

So that is the serious gap that Professor Milgram and other mathematicians have pointed out. They see a shrinking pipeline when what President Obama and many others, U.S. Chamber of Commerce and others have been saying is that we need an increasing pipeline, not a shrinking pipeline. So the question that has to be asked and Professor Milgram has been asking it and we don't get an answer, is why did they leave out those standards? We don't know why. None of them have answered that question. Why were those standards that lead to calculus one, never mind include calculus one, why were they left out of what was supposed to be the goal, one of the major goals of these standards?

REP. GIULIANO: Thank you very much. I do appreciate the comprehensiveness of your response. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you. Comprehensiveness is appreciated but brevity among all is also appreciated. Senator Boucher.

SENATOR BOUCHER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman and thank you so much for being here. Many of us were waiting anxiously to hear from you that you actually were a part of that process, that you have first-hand experience with David Coleman and Jason Zimba and the fact that you bring such a vast information from Massachusetts which supposedly and correct me if I'm wrong, did not adopt the Common Core but have their own standards and some have said are superior or am I misinformed?

SANDRA STOTSKY: No, they adopted Common Core in July, 2010, as I indicated because there was a promise of $250 million in race to the top money. We all knew that and there were -- this was common knowledge, let me put it that way. So our standards -- and I've been trying to find out in Massachusetts what is happening. It's hard to know because different high schools are doing different things.

Over 50 percent of the kids in Massachusetts, I don't know the percentage in Connecticut, were taking algebra one by grade eight. It was an increasing percentage in inner-cities an increasing percentage as well as in suburban areas. But what is happening now, we don't know because Common Core has deferred completion of algebra one to grade nine. It's a work in progress.

The tests haven't been given yet, that's another issue, Smarter Balance, there are serious issues with that test in particular that we're hearing from teachers who've taken the test in Nashua, New Hampshire and they've reported this information is available on line about the deficiencies in Smarter Balance's own tests given last December and the principal of the Fairgrounds Middle School in Nashua, New Hampshire, has placed that information available on the website as public information for those other states that are also enrolled into participate in Smarter Balance. They're all linked together.

SENATOR BOUCHER: So in the very brief time that was I able to be in the room with you, you seem to be moving towards the ability to revise and improve the tests rather than completely eliminating it, am I correct in that?

SANDRA STOTSKY: That is a decision to be made by whatever groups look into the standards. I know that Professor Milgram has testified because often we go together to 20, 25 different states testifying. He will say revise everything at the high school level. Maybe leave K through 5 in place, but revise everything from 6th grade on.

For English language arts, my recommendation is revise everything because the people who developed these standards, David Coleman and Susan Pimantel, we know their names, were unqualified to do what they did. I have all the details in my testimony, so I won't go over that here, but I was in charge of all the standards K-12 in Massachusetts inviting teachers from around the state to participate, higher ed experts including a mathematician at Harvard to advise us on the math standards I made sure that we had first-rate standards. I'm not against state standards, or even good national standards, but they have to be first rate, otherwise there's no point in having them at all. That's my basic view.

If we have national standards in mathematic science, in particular because they are international in their vocabulary, basically, they should be first rate. They should be comparable. There is no reason why we would not want the same high level of standards that other developed countries also make available through course work for all their children.

SENATOR BOUCHER: That's a good answer to a question that was posed in a recent informational meeting where we had a smaller group for our state officials when the very important question was asked, these are touted as to be higher standards than we've had, and the question was, are they really higher standards, and it doesn't sound like you believe they are.

And number one, and I'm distressed, because even in the district where I was a board of education member and chair, where we actually brought our eighth graders from 20 percent taking algebra in eighth grade to 80 percent taking algebra in the eighth grade.

We've very proud of that so that they could segue into algebra two when they got to high school and it sounds to me like this would take us backwards rather than forwards.

SANDRA STOTSKY: It is backwards, yes.

SENATOR BOUCHER: And it's very concerning. Very concerning. Thank you for your testimony. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

REP. FLEISCHMANN: Thank you. Any other questions for the witness? Representative Lavielle to be followed by Representative Ackert.

REP. LAVIELLE: Thank you very much, Mr. Chair. Thank you for coming and for spending so much time with us.

My question to you is really very basic, again, counting completely on your expertise in this. I have had quite a number of people write to me, even while we're sitting here, to ask what it is about the standards that we have had up until this point that has made them inferior? What is it that we needed to, in global terms, because I know you can't, we'd need days to go into all the details, but what exactly was it about them that needed so much improvement and how does this set of standards supposedly, at least, what was the basis for believing that this set of standards addressed a deficiency?

SANDRA STOTSKY: Good salesmanship is the answer to the last question.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Excuse me. This is not vaudeville theater. This is a public hearing. There is not applause or catcalls or anything of the sort and we will ask Capitol Police to escort from the room people who interrupt testimony. Please continue.

SANDRA STOTSKY: We have been told by the project developers from Washington, D. C. and by cooperative organizations like the Fordham Institute and ACHIEVE and others, that these new standards would answer all the issues that there's been a 50-year decline in public education for.

That we know. It's not something that Common Core caused. There's been a decline for about 50 years in public education leading to the need to raise standards. We all agree on that.

The question was, was this what these standards were intended to accomplish. Most reporters, in fact I haven't met one yet, who has answered my question about whether they could even read a set of high school math standards, can understand what the math standards are all about.

You have to hear from people who know mathematics at the high school. That's why high school math teachers need to be testifying about the quality as well as people who teach math at the college level who are in math departments, typically.

Those are the people who could have passed for judgment, who would have passed good judgment on it, but I looked at who was on the Standards Development Committee, all test developers. This was the original Committee in 2009, all connected to the testing industry. That was where the money is going to be made, technology, and then who were the standards writers and who chose them, why, how much were they paid, what was their charge.

We cannot get that information because private organizations developed these standards, which is anathema to me and I would like to explain why I feel so strongly about process.

I have been a town meeting member in Brookline. I was for ten years. I was a library board trustee for 14 years. I was President of the League of Women Voters. I have a background of active involvement in my own home community and I expected a far more open and inclusive process and it wasn't there.

In fact, I had to sign a confidentiality agreement as did others on the Validation Committee, because we were told we could never speak about what happened on the Validation Committee forever. That's why I cannot tell you what this Committee actually did. I can only tell you what I did, because I can talk about what I did, but not what this Committee did.

But that is part of the background to understanding the wave of parent and teacher protest that has started across this country in the past year and even if this Committee kills this bill, which is by the way been happening in several other states where I've been testifying because apparently that's the strategy du jour.

Don't let it get out of committee. Don't let there be discussion of Common Core. The discussion is going to continue because parents are fighting for, they're tiger moms. You know what those are. They are fighting for their children's education years, which cannot be made up.

So even though some of you may not think that's important, mothers will not give up. They're going to be accelerating in their protests, no matter how much money the Gates Foundation puts into the various pieces of this that we all know the Gates Foundation has supported because it's all available on the web. I'm not making any of this up. We know that.

REP. LAVIELLE: Thank you very much for the elucidation. I just, a very quick follow up. You had said in some of your remarks that you would like to see, if this were to proceed, that the assessment and the reflection and revision be done by an objective body outside of the State Department of Education.

SANDRA STOTSKY: Of experts, not by the Department of Ed. I was in one. I know where the experts are. That was why I got them from Harvard, Tufts, MIT to look at the quality of the high-school standards in math and science. I got literary scholars to look at the high-school English literature standards, because I'm not going to expect kindergarten teachers to evaluate calculus standards or pre-calculus standards.

I know where they have to come from. I want those people who are experts. I would do it in medicine, in law, or any other area, and I frankly do not understand how college readiness standards can be approved by a K-12 board without inviting the collective opinion of those people who teach those subjects at the college level.

REP. LAVIELLE: Thank you. I appreciate your answers and your time. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you, Representative Lavielle. Representative Srinivasan. And I would just ask members and witnesses to try to cover new ground not re-kill ground that we've just covered. Thank you.

REP. SRINIVASAN: Thank you very much, Chairman. Thank you very much for your testimony and all the eloquence that has followed after that.

My question to you is, knowing your voting record on Common Core, and knowing how you feel about it, is there, and I'm hoping I'm covering new ground, is there any part of the Common Core that you're comfortable with, acceptable to you at all?

SANDRA STOTSKY: There is a good reading strand for fundamentals in the K through 5. Yes. There is a good reading strand, and it's very possible that you heard to that effect from it sounded like Margie Gillis might have been an earlier testifier. I wasn't sure. I have not followed it, but there is a solid reading strand. I know the people who have done it and I know the research. That's my area of graduate training, so I can say that.

But all the rest, it has no content. There are no literary historical markers except a few at the high-school level that I put in. That's why they're there.

REP. SRINIVASAN: Thank you very much. That is very disturbing to hear, but I do appreciate your comment, and thank you, Mr. Chairman.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you. Other questions for the witness? Oh, Representative Molgano.

REP. MOLGANO: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Welcome, Dr. Stotsky, and thank you for your testimony. You spoke much about the limitations or concerns of mathematics going into, as prerequisites --


REP. MOLGANO: -- into college. In your written testimony you have several concerns about English language arts, and you enumerate six of them in there, and I won't read them all.

I'm very interesting in hearing your concerns about those concerns as they affect prerequisites going into college.

SANDRA STOTSKY: Oh yes, they definitely will. They're harder to pin down. Pre-calculus standards are easier to mention as a course, but the English language arts as a K-12 document need to be re-conceptualized and that's hard to explain in a few minutes.

You've got this 50/50 balance between so-called informational text and literary text, which means you reduce literature, you increase information, and this is the wrong direction for high school English teachers to be going.

Because if we know anything about where critical places are analytical thinking, reading comes from, it comes from reading complex literary text where English teachers teach students how to read between the lines.

This does not happen with informational text. So that basic division that David Coleman made, and has no research support, I couldn't even get him to speak to me about it, is what needs to be redone. But that is why, in good part, why I say those standards need to be totally revised, because the organization of the standards is the problem.

It's not good to go standard by standard or to be crosswalks because those are very poor methodologies for comparing the academic rigor of two different sets of standards, and I say this because I've done them and I understand them from a research perspective.

What you want is a look at the larger picture. What are the major organizing strands and where is there an indication of the quality in the standards themselves of the level of reading and the kind of reading that you want students to be able to do if they are to develop large vocabularies, learn to deal with difficult syntax and that's what we expect by the time they go along to college.

You can't get that by reading textbooks or op eds or editorials. That's not the quality of the reading you want students to learn how to be analytical or critical thinkers with.

REP. MOLGANO: Thank you. You also make a very interesting statement in your list of recommendations saying that accountability must also be placed on the education schools in Connecticut that train our educators and administrators and on the students themselves.

We do not hear much on student accountability as we do teacher effectiveness.


REP. MOLGANO: Would you please share with us your views regarding balancing the burden of accountability.

SANDRA STOTSKY: That's a good part of what a task force that the Governor could ask for, a Legislature could ask for, should address.

I do not think it is fair to make teachers the sole burden of accountability in any sense. I've been a teacher at the elementary, at the high-school level, as well as at the college level.

Yes, they need to be held accountable, but there are methodologies for doing that, that could be better than tying their evaluations to a specific percentage of a kid's score on a one-shot test. I don't think that those are ways to evaluate teachers.

But we also have to think about the other influences on a child's performance in school. Parents are there. Children themselves have to be accountable for their own performance, and so some way has, and education schools train our teachers. So where are they in this larger picture? I don't know where they are. We haven't made education schools in any way, accountable for the teachers they produce, and yet we know that over 50 years, that has been the growing source of our problems in this country.

Our education schools have not raised the bar for admission, which is part of the solution, not the whole solution, but we have been making access to a teacher training program virtually open to anybody. We backload with professional development, which we know from research doesn't work and I've looked at all the research. I know that.

Other countries would never allow into a teacher training program, the bottom third of a college cohort, which is what we do, and there are independent sources that attest to that.

The bottom third of a college cohort goes into our teacher training institutions for becoming elementary teachers. Those particular prospective teachers need to have their academic backgrounds strengthened considerably so they're capable of teaching math, science, history and good reading.

And until we can do that, most standards are just going to be statements on a piece of paper and won't amount to much.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you. Any other questions for the witness? So we haven't done this today and this will be an exception.

Briefly, for the second time, Senator Boucher, and I would ask the witness to please be brief in response.

SENATOR BOUCHER: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

REP. FLEISHMANN: And just to be clear. This will be the last exception going forward in this hearing. Every Legislator is going to get their chance to ask questions and then they will let their colleagues ask questions, but that will be one bite at the apple from now on. Go ahead, Senator Boucher.

SENATOR BOUCHER: Mr. Chair, I appreciate that exception very much and I could not let this pass because you said something. I'm also on the Higher Education Committee as Ranking Member there as well and what you just said about teacher preparation programs has been something for the last year and a half I have so focused on.

We have one wonderful program, the Neag School at UConn that produces graduates that everyone wants and has a waiting list, and you said it, and you said something politically incorrect, but true, is they have very high standards to get in. You have to have an over 1200 SAT. You have to have a very high GPA and our other graduates from others are not sought after and I've had complaints by superintendents as to the quality of those teachers.

You've hit on something that's such a nerve. I hope you continue to bring that up instead of reacting to a question from others, but I hope you continue to make those statements loud and clear.

Thank you, Mr. Chair, I really appreciate it.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you, and I'd like to, except there was no question mark at the end, so that's again, an exception that we want question marks at the end.

If we could go now to, thank you very much for your time, your patience, your testimony.

SENATOR MARKLEY: And Mr. Chair, and I want to thank Representative Wood who switched spots with me so I could get Dr. Stotsky in here. Thank you very much.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you. Marianne Kirner, to be followed by the gracious Terrie Wood.

MARIANNE KIRNER: Good afternoon. Senator Stillman, Representative Fleischmann, and members of the Education Committee, my name is Marianne Kirner, and I'm the Executive Director of the State Education Resource Center, known throughout Connecticut as SERC.

I'm here today to express my support and the support of my SERC colleagues for Raised Bill Number 425 AN ACT CONCERNING THE STATE EDUCATION RESOURCE CENTER.

SERC welcomes the changes that would result from this bill, which includes clarity about SERC's legal status and the establishment of a governance board.

Both of these actions will enable us to carry out SERC's mission, a mission supported by the General Assembly and the Connecticut State Department of Education for decades.

Should this bill pass, we look forward to working with you, the State Department of Education and the SERC board in a partnership to ensure SERC's continued viability.

We believe the bill you have outlined will enhance SERC's service to educators, students, state agencies, service providers and perhaps most importantly, families and community members, particular service on behalf of students with disabilities, students of color, English language learners and others represented by Connecticut's achievement gaps.

Thank you for your opportunity to speak about the bill. I know you have a full agenda today and there's certainly a lot of other voices you need to get here in the room. You have my written testimony, so at this point I'd be happy to answer any questions that you have.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you for your testimony and your service. A very brief question based on previous testimony. Someone pointed out that SERC is 94 percent funded by public dollars from various streams and that based on that it seemed like nonprofit status might be most appropriate. I'd be happy to hear your response.

MARIANNE KIRNER: It is true that as we stand this year, 90 percent of our funding is federal funding that flows through the State Department of Education.

And so I think the concerns about nonprofit, they go back a number of years and they actually surfaced here in this Committee, who was concerned about if SERC was moved to nonprofit, that that board could choose to take SERC in a direction that may not be in keeping with where the General Assembly or the State Department would like it to go.

So I believe that's why we're supportive of not moving in that direction at this point in time.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you for that concise, clear and helpful answer. Other questions from members of the Committee? Representative Ackert.

REP. ACKERT: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I believe that, probably a follow up. So the way the language is put in this legislation for the quasi-public, without changes you believe that this will fit the needs of SERC going forward?

MARIANNE KIRNER: Yes. Thank you for that question. We believe so. We would welcome the clarity that the quasi-public provides us. We have. that lack of a very clear legal status has been something that has interfered with our ability to move forward and secure funding in other ways for quite a while now.

So having that clear, legal status, having a board to be involved in that, fund raising might not be the right word, but that you know, procurement of resources beyond the federal dollars would be welcome.

The voices that a board would bring to the table, we think we would find supportive.

We, the one question that I have, you implemented Public Act, excuse me, the number is slipping my, Public Act 13-286 last year, which clearly stated that SERC was a state contracting agency. That was also very helpful. We had always operated, for the most part, under those guidelines and then the one incident that we did have, where we were asked to go with a no-bid contract, the confusion around the legal status and the fact that there wasn't the clarity that you've now put into place, that became, that will help us moving forward, that we clearly are.

So my question is just, does what was in Public Act 13-286, does that still stand and will that still be a part of the new quasi-public?

REP. ACKERT: Thank you. And then you mentioned dollars, additional dollars. Would they be philanthropy dollars, you go, other grants, or besides the federal dollars?

MARIANNE KIRNER: Yes, sir. I can give you two examples where we had an opportunity. We applied for philanthropic dollars and the funder was very excited about the work that SERC has done, was very excited to partner with SERC.

When they recognized that the actual 501c-3 status belonged to our fiscal agent and not actually SERC, they became concerned and they had to back away and told us to come back when that was clarified.

The most recent example is, we actually applied for an I-3 grant, which is a part of the Race to the Top and it was put out for universities and nonprofits to apply, not the typical state agency money. We wrote a grant and it was rated very high. The feedback we got back from the readers in Washington was, we were almost led to believe that we were the number one ranked grant.

When they again realized that they would be awarding that grant to our fiscal agent, because that's where the federal identification number is, they again became concerned and actually disqualified us from the competition.

So I think we're hoping, with the guidance of the board and this Committee, that we can help keep SERC robust and moving forward through both philanthropic dollars as well as other federal and other types of grants that we might be able to apply for that we can't right now.

REP. ACKERT: Thank you so much for your testimony, and thank you, Mr. Chairman.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you. Senator Stillman.

SENATOR STILLMAN: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you for being here. I know you've been here as has anyone else for quite some time. We appreciate it.

And as you know, this is an important issue that was raised by the Committee last year --


SENATOR STILLMAN: -- and auditors report, et cetera.

Can you, the bill calls for and you just mentioned it in your testimony, the Connecticut School Reform Resource Center.


SENATOR STILLMAN: Could you help us understand what that's going to do that SERC, is this something that SERC does not do now, and what is the school, what is meant by school reform?

MARIANNE KIRNER: I appreciate that question. A great question. We currently do try to have a School Reform Resource Center at SERC. We have the Special Education Resource Center, we have the Connecticut Parent Information Resource Center and we do have a School Reform Resource Center.

Right now, the School Reform Resource Center at SERC has basically a federal grant that's working on multi-tiered systems of support, PBIS, and we also have placed under that center our direct work with school districts regarding PBIS and excuse me, that's Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports, but that's fee for service.

So I think one of the things we're excited about with the School Reform Resource Center as it's listed in the current legislation, it's the kind of thing that we could begin to collaborate with others on and the kinds of either technical reports, research or programming that perhaps we can collaborate on funding to then have, be a part of the School Reform Resource Center.

SENATOR STILLMAN: By school reform, it covers topics other than the ones you've mentioned such as special ed. Is this in relationship to some new kind of curriculum or teaching? I want to make sure we're not talking about reform school.

MARIANNE KIRNER: Yeah. No. I think it's just the continued, it's more the word reform I think is to help school districts actually examine their practices and move to better practices, and so it would include, certainly a lot of data examination and when a school district or a school is struggling with perhaps a certain population of the students, that we could provide technical assistance to help reform their practices in order to meet the needs of more students to help close achievement gaps.

So I don't think it's, you know, it's not a curriculum or something special that they're going to be asked to reform. The word is used broadly.

SENATOR STILLMAN: Thank you. The other, I'll give you a two-part question here. Number one, and I apologize if this was asked about Rensselaer.


SENATOR STILLMAN: How are you going to transition from them being the fiduciary to, you know, obviously you're going to have to transfer that authority to SERC.


SENATOR STILLMAN: And also, in that as you look at moving SERC forward as a quasi in another area, do you anticipate increasing your personnel?

MARIANNE KIRNER: Again, a great question. Thank you very much. In terms of the transition from Rensselaer, we've already begun the conversations with both them and the State Department of Education that obviously we can't transition overnight, and so the conversations, and it was actually as a matter of fact included in the Commissioner's report that he submitted in January, that talked about that, based on the timing of the transition what's the actual effect date?

We would have to have some period of time that we would work with Rensselaer in order to make sure that payroll was protected and that bill still got paid.

I have a question in terms of, you know, once the bill is passed and there's an official start date, does that position us to go and get the federal ID number, or do we have to wait until the board is seated and then the board, you know, authorizes the Executive Director to go get the federal ID number.

So, we're trying to work through some of those things in conversation with both Rensselaer and the State Department of Education.

But I think the plan at this point is to see about definitely something along the lines of six months but wording it in such a way that if we needed a little longer, that that could occur as well.

In terms of quasi-public, and starting to get a handle on what that means, we've begun doing our research hitting the books and hitting the libraries in terms of reading what other quasi-publics are, how they're structured, how they work. We've also approached a couple and asked them if we could actually just come talk to them about how they handle things like their finances, their fiscal, their HR department and that kind of thing.

Those meetings are scheduled for later in the month. We are making the legislation the priority at this point in time.

In terms of increasing the staff, I think we will definitely need to consider increasing fiscal, because right now we pay Rensselaer and with the State Department's contract with Rensselaer, they handle everything from having the bank account to the checking account to hiring the auditors, to preparing the monthly reports, and so all of that would have to slowly move internally.

They do hire ADP to do the payroll, so we have been having conversations about just transitioning that from being paid for by Rensselaer to being paid for by SERC. But just the everyday basics of cutting the check and entering the accounts payable, the accounts receivable, we are going to have to have additional staff to do that to replace the people that currently reside at Rensselaer.

SENATOR STILLMAN: And I would assume it's unclear as to how many people we're talking about.

MARIANNE KIRNER: I think that's one of the reasons we'd like to approach some of the other quasi-publics. We've tried to judge those that are about the same size we are, have about the same amount of personnel as we do, have a somewhat similar amount of budget as we do, to get a sense. How big are your HR departments? How big are your finances, you know, your finance office and use that to prepare recommendations.

We're also hoping that the board will bring us expertise in that area that perhaps some members of the board will have a financial background or expertise in that area that could certainly help guide us to doing this correctly.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you. Are there any other questions for Miss Kirner? If not, thank you very much for your testimony, and your time.

MARIANNE KIRNER: Thank you for your time.

REP. FLEISHMANN: So it's been brought to my attention that we have students who are waiting to give testimony, and it is the tradition of the Committee to try and bring students forward at the outset as we had done for Christopher.

A VOICE: (Inaudible).

REP. FLEISHMANN: Excuse me, it is the policy of this Committee and has been for the last decade that students get precedence. It has always worked that way at this Committee, so I would ask anyone who is a student who is here to please raise their hands. If you would, are you siblings? If you'd like to come forward together. Is it Erin and Mark? Do I have the right? Please come on forward and identify yourselves fully and we'll take your testimony and then we'll go on with the list.

Please press the button so the red light comes on and then we'll hear you.

MARK IFILL HANEY: Can you hear me?


MARK IFILL HANEY: My name is Mark Ifill Haney and I'm a junior at New Haven Academy.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Please allow your sister to also introduce herself and then you can each say your piece.

ERYN IFILL: Hello. My name is Eryn Ifill. I'm in ninth grade. I go to school in Hamden (inaudible) but I am a New Haven public school student.

MARK IFILL HANEY: I would like to open my testimony with a quote from the Declaration of Independence. I assure you it is very brief.

That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among people deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, and these rights are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and what better way for a government to ensure these rights by getting the people's personal testimony.

So what better way to make a decision for the students without you know, getting input from the students themselves.

So I am in support of the Common Core. I believe that this will, I'm sorry, I believe that this is a good opportunity for students to adjust to a new kind of testing.

I'm, this test is (inaudible) my test, and so a lot of kids do not have the opportunity to use a computer or a technology such as this. Going through middle school I was one of these students, so bringing those students, I was once at that point, bringing those students into an introduction like this would be good for them.

ERYN IFILL: Hi. I will support Common Core. I don't want to postpone these kids' future. Technically, I am part of this (inaudible) future. So I believe you really want to postpone the Common Core just because some other towns have some great grading?

What about the students who don't have that great grading? What happens if I'm not prepared for college? Right now, apparently I have As. I'm not sure if I'll be ready for college. I may be excited, but that does not mean I am ready.

And some people, no way. Hey, anyway, so, anyway. We need to support Common Core for the kids who don't have A average, who don't have B average. Come kids may have Cs or Ds, but that makes sure, that means that those kids aren't ready for college.

Soon, maybe 11th grade they may be ready, but we want to start them early, good and ready. Thank you.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you. And let me just say, the Education Committee recognizes giving public testimony is not easy, so please don't feel bad about the fact that maybe it took you a second to find your footing. You did an excellent job. Are there questions? And we appreciate your taking time after school to join us. Are there questions from members of the Committee? If not, we thank you for your impassioned advocacy and your time.

ERYN IFILL: Okay. Thank you. Have a nice day.

MARK IFILL HANEY: Thank you for having us.

REP. FLEISHMANN: So let me just do one other double check. Do we have any other students in the room who have been waiting? Seeing none, I welcome Representative Terrie Wood who has, you've now been doubly gracious. Thank you for your patience.

REP. WOOD: Good afternoon, Senator Stillman, Representative Fleischmann, Senator Boucher and Representative Ackert. I am State Representative Terrie Wood representing the 141st District.

Thank you for hearing my testimony in support of Committee Bill 5078 AN ACT CONCERNING A MORATORIUM ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS.

I stand in very strong support of this bill as written. Very simply, the Common Core State Standards does not represent a process of democracy that citizens of our state and country should be able to count on.

Little input from the public was considered in developing these standards. Little input from public school educators and administrators and parents or students were included in writing these standards.

The cornerstone of our democracy is valuing the public process and public debate. When we ignore the public, we violate a basic tenet of our democracy and in turn public trust.

I have heard from an enormous, an enormous would be understated, number of educators in the two districts that I represent and they strongly oppose the implementation of these standards without proper due diligence.

They're all for standards, trust me, and they're all for assessment, but they just want to see more of a process followed with this and more input from them.

Having had three children attend and graduate from public school in Connecticut, I have firsthand experience with our education system. In my experience, the teachers and administrators that dedicate themselves to the teaching profession, are deeply experienced, knowledgeable and are a genuine credit to their profession.

They have a passion for teaching and nurturing the minds and hearts of their students. They need to be a voice in this crucial debate. Turning a deaf ear to our public school educators makes no sense and it's wrong in so many ways.

Let's use common sense on our Common Core. Thank you for hearing my testimony and I will hope that you will vote to support this bill. I will be happy to answer any questions. Thank you.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you. And please rest assured there are no deaf ears on this Committee. Just tired ears, maybe, but not deaf ears.

Are there questions or comments from members of the Committee? Representative Kokoruda.

REP. KOKORUDA: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Good afternoon, Terrie. Let me ask you, one of your towns I know, or maybe both your towns, how far along are they in the implementation of this, and are they all doing, both doing the SBAC test this spring?

REP. WOOD: Yes. Well, the high school is doing the SBAC. I'm actually sitting down in ten days with a group of educators from our middle school to go over the forms and what they're learning and how they've been brought up to speed, but they are, they are very disturbed about it.

REP. KOKORUDA: You know, one of the things we've heard today is the concern and I'm sure we're going to hear it again, that a lot of school systems have instituted this and they're, you know, they're pretty far along and what do they do now?

Is that something that's come up in your district at all?

REP. WOOD: Not so much.

REP. KOKORUDA: Not so much.

REP. WOOD: Maybe it has, but I haven't heard that.

REP. KOKORUDA: That might be a conversation for you at this meeting you're having.

REP. WOOD: Right. Right.

REP. KOKORUDA: All right. Thank you very much for your testimony.

REP. WOOD: You're welcome. Thank you.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Are there questions? Representative Srinivasan.

REP. SRINIVASAN: Thank you, Chairman. Good afternoon, Representative. Thank you for your testimony. I appreciate your being here this afternoon. My question is that if some of the districts are comfortable with the Common Core, obviously they have some level of discomfort about Part A or Part B.

When you began your testimony, you talked about the process, which obviously was not adhered to and it was just, you know, it was a decision made and people were told this is what you need to do.

Is it more the process that you're concerned with or the content?

REP. WOOD: Both.


REP. WOOD: I mean, they're not having a voice in it I think is very upsetting to them and I think that was to the heart of what my point was. They are, I mean, I don't know too many educators who are not seasoned and have wonderful voices and bring such experience to the table and they bring a value that we should be hearing.

REP. SRINIVASAN: Thank you for saying that, and that's what I've heard, too. The fact that they were not at the table, these stakeholders were kind of quote, unquote, not included at all is what has been the most upsetting factor in the entire process.

REP. WOOD: Right. And they are in the trenches. They know how to educate students. They know how best to assess students, and I guess the form has some very complicated questions or again, that's what I'll learn more in ten days, but they don't feel the assessment is going to accurately reflect what their students have learned.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you. Any other questions? If not, thank you very much for your time, patience and testimony.

REP. WOOD: Thank you all very much and good luck tonight, and hopeful it won't be this morning.

REP. FLEISHMANN: It will be what it will be. The public has a right to be heard. Shellie Davis, to be followed by Senator Looney, if he's still in the building.

Would you press the red button so that the red light comes on the microphone, and identify yourself. I assume we've got Shellie Davis and someone in addition.

JACQUELINE SAMUELS: Shellie Davis had to step out for a moment. My name is Jacqueline Samuels, and this is my colleague Wanda Adgers. We are paraprofessionals also in the Hartford School District and she just switched places with us so that we could have a chance to speak.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Please go ahead.

JACQUELINE SAMUELS: In regard to the bill that was mentioned earlier, first I'd like to greet you, Senator Stillman and Representative Fleischmann, the members of the Education Committee.

I have been a para educator since 2007 in the Hartford School District. I have served in three different schools at this point. I've served as a kindergarten classroom para and for the last three years as a support para to two different students with special needs.

During this period of time I have noticed that while para educators are told we are a valuable part of this team or that team, we are often used to fill gaps, especially where compliance with the individual education plans of students are an issue.

There are children whose parents and interested parties are told that they will be given a para educator to help them meet specified goals when in fact these children often go without such assistance on a daily, and from time to time, even a yearly basis.

Some of this I'm told from people who have become frustrated in the lack of concern for these children's needs.

I know para educators who have had the experience of being pulled away from their assigned students anywhere from a few hours to a few months to give the appearance that another child in need is covered, while his or her assigned student is given to another para who must now do double duty, assisting the student that is now being given to them sort of like to babysit, and also to assist their own student that they have been assigned.

We work hard to establish relationships and bonds of trust with our students and oftentimes, these relationships that we've built with our students are unparalleled due to our roles in their lives on a day-to-day basis.

The inconsideration of even this, with regard to the para educators and the students is actually disgusting. The fact that we are often not invited to attend or have input in the PPTs, although we work closest with the students throughout each day and that many of us have not seen our student's IEPs, even after working with the students sometimes for several months at a time is also concerning.

With regard to the bill, 5523 --

REP. FLEISHMANN: If you could summarize, please.

JACQUELINE SAMUELS: Yes. With regard to the bill, 5523, we are hoping that a closer look will indeed be taken at what is actually happening when it comes to the staffing levels of para educators in our school systems and that there will be accountability that is established within each district. Thank you.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you. And I note you're accompanied at the microphone. Were there any additional comments that your colleague wished to make or is she there in moral support of your position?

WANDA ADGERS: Moral support, right. (Inaudible).

REP. FLEISHMANN: Fair enough. We appreciate your support and lack of repetition. Are there questions from members of the Committee? Representative Ackert.

REP. ACKERT: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you for your testimony. Now this bill that you're referencing is just to create a task force --


REP. ACKERT: -- to study. Most of it deals with staffing levels, but a lot of your conversation wasn't primarily about staffing levels, so is there something that we might want more of the actually the parameters or something that a paraprofessional should fall under or training that we might, if we're going to incorporate it into the study of the task force that we might want to think about?

JACQUELINE SAMUELS: One of the things that I would recommend, because we were sharing more from experiences that we've had where we are impacted by the inadequate staffing levels in many of the schools where we serve, but Shellie Davis has submitted her own testimony and there are certain specific questions along those lines that she would probably, I believe would be best able to address.

REP. ACKERT: Thank you and thank you for the good work you do.


REP. FLEISHMANN: Senator Bartolomeo.

SENATOR BARTOLOMEO: Thank you. I ask a question based on a different district, not Hartford, that has a bit different practice than policy, and so I'm asking, in your experience, if the teacher is absent are you asked to be the substitute to run the class or is there a teaching substitute given in your experience?

JACQUELINE SAMUELS: In past experience as a classroom para educator, I was asked from time to time to cover the class in the absence of the teacher, especially if there was a last-minute, you know, situation that occurred where the teacher had to leave or something came up that morning and they didn't have enough time to bring in a sub. That's happened in the past.

When assigned as a support to a specific student, they tried to avoid doing that.

SENATOR BARTOLOMEO: So I guess I would also ask your colleague as well and my question would, more specifically, because you did a nice job differentiating. In your time as a classroom para, would you say it's the rare exception, he emergency case where you've had to or seen others had to serve as the teacher, or has it been more of a problem than that?

JACQUELINE SAMUELS: I'd say probably that for the most part, it's probably been rare as far as emergencies. Sometimes there's other things going on in the building. The school that I'm thinking of right now, I remember being pulled from the kindergarten area to, I believe that was the second grade classroom and there was a time it was a fourth grade classroom, and never quite understanding or being told exactly why.

Sometimes we were kind of, it's almost like moved at will to fill gaps and things.

SENATOR BARTOLOMEO: I thank you for being willing to answer that question honestly. Thank you.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Other questions? If not, thank you for your testimony and your service.


REP. FLEISHMANN: We now go to Henry Talmage, to be followed by Nick Fisher.

TERRY JONES: Mr. Chairman, actually Henry Talmage had to leave and he asked me to deliver his testimony, so --

REP. FLEISHMANN: I think we'll be hearing that story quite a bit tonight. Go ahead.

TERRY JONES: I'm going to give you, I love your agrarian reference to telling, not re-telling. I'm going to give you an opportunity for some hybrid vigor because I will present his, Farm Bureau's testimony and a very brief summary of mine.

My name is Terry Jones. I'm a fifth generation farmer, and I've been in Farm Bureau for 60 years and I also serve on the State Board of Education.

So on Farm Bureau in support of Bill 5519 AN ACT CONCERNING STUDENT INTERNS, it's about the agri-science program, which is a shining example of how our education system works at its very best, combining balance of classroom and applied learning experiences to prepare students for success, regardless of their ultimate career choices.

Now here's, and we have this on our own farm. We take interns from the program, and this bill addresses the challenge of providing students with that opportunity but it provides limited liability protection for the employers of the student interns and that will encourage increased opportunities for my colleagues to have these kids.

So the Connecticut Farm Bureau supports this bill and encourages its adoption.

In regard to Bill 5078, I'll give you just a couple new perspectives. Common Core is like a building code, and these codes, these building codes are common. Every town in Connecticut has one and they enable our citizens to live and work in safe structures. But we can build them to suit our needs, our local needs, and not sacrifice our vision of beauty or function.

In my lifetime we have built many structures on our 400-acre farm and indeed, each is an individual and attractive creation built to standards established by the building code.

Likewise, we can build creative and challenging curriculums under the building code of Common Core.

A math teacher recently said to me, the Common Core is the sanest change to math standards in 15 years. Kids were being taught math in shallow, three-week segments so that at year's end they would know a little bit about everything.

By trying to teach kids everything every year, we see them move up the grade ladder without a real sense of how to use numbers.

As an employer, I have been dismayed at the growing number of youngsters in recent years that come to work for us in the summer and they do not know their number skills by the time they join our teenage workforce.

Common Core helps our students --

REP. FLEISHMANN: I'm sorry, but the bill did go off, and though your non-farm metaphor regarding construction is well taken. We would appreciate if you could summarize.

TERRY JONES: Okay. Actually, I was in a moment, allows a student to dive deep into the waters of understanding rather than slip sliding around in studies that are mile wide and an inch deep.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you very much for that testimony. Are there questions for, yes, Senator Boucher?

SENATOR BOUCHER: Thank you, Mr. Chair and thank you so much for appearing here and also for your service and on the State Board of Education it's a very important role indeed.

Were you here for the testimony previously from Dr. Stotsky?

TERRY JONES: I was here for part of it. I'm not sure. I came in near the end, so I'm not sure how long she spoke, but she did say one thing that I did hear resonated was our concern with the teaching, the programs to teach teachers.

SENATOR BOUCHER: Right. The teaching program. Prior to that her concern was that it may very well be that from kindergarten to fifth grade that the curriculum or the standards that were written seem to be sound but from that point on there was some concern about them particularly in our math programs, that it actually was a lower standard than a higher standard, and that the proper educational expertise was not brought to bear on this.

I just wanted your reaction to that, and hopefully you'll take a look at her testimony and have her maybe even come before your committee. I would imagine that coming before the State Board of Education to have some experts that actually sat on the Validation Committee to come and discuss this with you might be of great value.

TERRY JONES: Yes. I'm not an expert, but we have heard a number of people and I try to visit schools and I have not heard that criticism.

Frankly, most of the teachers and principals that I've spoken to have been quite excited about it. But granted, it's really hard. I mean, I feel for the teachers. It's a lot of work to make the transition, but there has to be an urgency here. We are not giving the kids all that they could be.

SENATOR BOUCHER: We share your sense of urgency. No question. Our just concern is when there's been comments about making the higher standard more rigorous and in fact there's some experts that they in fact in many cases give actual reductions of standards. We want to hear from those experts that talk about that.

TERRY JONES: That's right. You should.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you. Senator Bartolomeo.

SENATOR BARTOLOMEO: Thank you, Mr. Chair. As a member of the State Board of Education, I'm really curious if you could react or respond to what's my largest concern about the Common Core is, and that's the early grades, the lack of standards related to social, emotional development of our children and things like conflict resolution and even play based learning that used to help to develop fine motor skills and all of that.

We had someone here earlier who commented and said, I don't think that's even being taught pretty much now any more, anyway. I find it extremely important for so many ways and I just wonder if you could speak to, whether it's you personally or maybe it's the State Board of Ed, what's the thought about that area that's missing from maybe now, but even going forward with the Common Core standards?

TERRY JONES: I will definitely bring that up with my colleagues. On a personal note, I cannot tell you how concerned I am about the same subject that you expressed and in fact, I have, our family has started a program and we have seven disadvantaged, children from disadvantaged families and we're sponsoring them in a pre-K four-year-old program and we've sort of adopted them and we're trying to expand that for other business to do it.

But anyway, my great joy is to watch, to go visit them in class and they're mixed with more privileged suburban kids, so it's, and half the time they're playing and learning the social skills of how to negotiate and get along together and I think we have only to, I'm sure that we never have these problems in our General Assembly, but certainly we look at the U.S. Congress and I can't tell you how much I support what you're saying.

This is so valuable. They need that time. They definitely do. I'm with you.

SENATOR BARTOLOMEO: Thank you, and I just want to give you an opportunity to maybe even clarify a little bit. I'm assuming you would think that it was valuable regardless of the socio-economic that setting, whatever school district it is, it's a universal need.

I think that we see a negative impact in our later grades right now when we speak to the fact that there are so many more distractible or troubled children that our teachers have to deal with. Do you feel that that's a universal thing, number one, and number two, do you think it's resulting from this lack of play based learning and modeling and role playing?

TERRY JONES: I think it probably is. I think, and I think actually in a way Common Core, although it may not formally address it at the pre-K level, I'm sure this is something that will be done and I know another program I'm very, I believe strongly and my colleagues on the State Board do also, the experiential learning and in fact we work a lot with school gardens and getting the kids in the garden and then, you know, they learn how to get along together and how to count. There's a lot of integrated curriculum. It's not just going out to play, which wouldn't be a bad thing, but it's playing and learning at the same time, and those social skills are just invaluable.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you. Mr. Jones, in your role as a member of the State Board of Ed, I just want to point out that Dr. Stotsky was a member of the Common Core group who voted nay. If you're going to listen to her perspective, I would encourage the State Board to also invite Mr. Jason Zimba, who was part of the super majority that voted on these standards, and his stance is that they worked hard with experts, including state math directors, mathematicians, education researchers and teachers at developing initial standards.

They were presented to the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and then there was feedback from math teachers across the country. He was involved with math standards. I can get you a similar name for someone involved with English standards. I think it's important that the State Board, if it's to invite experts as people from the super majority who voted in favor of the Common Core, as well as those who voted against it.

TERRY JONES: I will do that. I've written his name and I promise I will do that.

I also think it is of note that Massachusetts whom we often look at a little bit with envy as far as their standings and national education, did adopt a Common Core in actually the same month we did, July of 2010. You could debate until the cows come home whether the money from the federal Race to the Top was the prime incentive for that, but as best I know they're doing fairly well with it now.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you. Yes, Massachusetts actually leads the nation on the national assessments currently, but they led before they adopted Common Core as well, so hard to disentangle that.

TERRY JONES: Well, at least they haven't gone backwards.

REP. FLEISHMANN: That's right. They haven't gone backwards. Any other questions or comments from Mr. Wood? Representative Walko.

REP. WALKO: Good afternoon.

TERRY JONES: Good afternoon.

REP. WALKO: Thank you for your testimony. So I've been sitting here today listening to the testimony and being respectful of time because I'm not asking many questions, but one of the things that I haven't heard today from anybody is, how do we judge a Common Core, let's assume it gets implemented and it moves forward?

What's the metrics by which we judge whether or not it's been successful or not? Is the goal to reduce achievement gap? Is the goal to increase all academic achievement? Is the goal that Connecticut students get accepted to schools and are more prepared than they otherwise would be?

And how does the Board of Ed intend to track that to be able to come back and say to us that this is a success or it isn't a success and we need to fix it?

TERRY JONES: The primary goal that my colleagues, we all share, is to reduce the achievement gap in Connecticut. That's a notoriety that we're not happy having the largest gap in the state.

I personally will measure in my business in a few years if I start seeing the kids understand numbers better than they do.

I think another metric's going to be, which the Commissioner I believe alluded to that, measuring the amount, the diminution in the students that need help when they first get to college, remedial, which in some cases is as high as 70 percent now.

And then lastly, and I do think hearing from the science and technology industries is how they will be evaluating the ability of students that you know, have gone all the way through the Common Core. It's a long, you know, part of my business is I grow trees, not radishes.

So it takes a long time and I'm patient. I mean, the smarter balance testing, I think will also give some intermediate measures.

REP. WALKO: I appreciate those comments, but as I sit here and still being fairly new to the process, I don't, I'm not sure we should be using our children as sort of the test cases to see whether or not this is ultimately going to blossom into a tree.

As a parent of two children who are just entering the middle school years, I worry as a parent that we're entering into a situation where at least from some other states, I mean, I think it's fairly well documented that New York had some problems in implementing Common Core, that we're going into an arena too quickly with the sense that we're going to work on it as it goes along, and I don't hear how even in year one, two, three or four, and I understand that it does take a little bit of time, but that how I as a Legislator should then go to the State Board of Education to say, well, are you successful? Do you think that you are succeeding?

So for instance, if the achievement gap doesn't decrease, should I be able to then sit here and say, what are you doing to address it if Common Core was supposed to address achievement gap and it's not, what are we doing to change it and almost as important, what's the mechanism by which we go ahead and change it?

So those are my concerns, not just based on what you said today, and I very much appreciate your comments, but in the totality of the comments so far, and that's probably what concerns me the most about this.

TERRY JONES: I think they're fair concerns and I'll speak because I have four grandchildren who are heading into those schools, that level, and what I, I'm speaking personally here.

I think that first of all, I think several interventions are happening. I would urge you to look at the Department of Education's website that we just rolled out two or three weeks ago on the Common Core. It's, I think we're unique in the nation having done that and it's really good and helpful.

The fact that there's 1,500 teachers, coaching teachers fanning out to work on this. The fact that the Governor yesterday issued his executive order to have 25 professionals help.

I think we really need to come together and make this work. We've invested a lot, and I mean, I've been in business all my life and you know, I have made some mistakes on our farm and you know, we've lost a crop.

I think if we work together. I have a farm saying, with fierce cooperation, you know. That's another mantra that the State, my colleagues at the State Board have. They say when we come in the room to meet, we leave our politics and our egos at the door, and we focus on what's, what we feel with passion is best for the children.

And I really think that if we, the citizens of Connecticut, whether it's the General Assembly or educated professionals and that, have the highest regards for teachers, and we really work on this, I mean, 24/7, we really work on it and we don't approach and if there are failures or setbacks with a got ya thing, you know, we're more trying to just keep moving forward, no u-turns, I think we'll succeed.

And those concerns that you have, I share them as a grandparent and you know, we'll work together to figure it out.

REP. WALKO: Thank you for your comments.

SENATOR STILLMAN: Thank you, Representative. Anyone else? Thank you very much. We appreciate your participation and your opinions and enjoy the evening.

TERRY JONES: Thank you.

SENATOR STILLMAN: Thank you, sir. Next is Nick Fisher, to be followed by Dr. Miguel Cardona, to be followed by Brooke Cheney. Welcome, Dr. Fisher. Always a pleasure to see someone from my wonderful City of New London.

NICK FISHER: Thank you very much, and I appreciate the opportunity to speak to the Joint Committee. I hope that copies of my statement have been distributed to you. I tried to give them out earlier.

There are a number of perspectives to which I could speak to this issue and I want to share some of them and then I'll be glad to try to answer any specific questions you may have.

Many citizens and educators are frightened by the pace of putting into place the Common Core curriculum and the Smarter Balance tests. I speak to their reaction from the perspective of having lived through the implementation of high stake state standards in four different states starting with Florida in the late nineteen seventies and early eighties.

Most recently, I was in charge of creating the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System in 1993, now regarded as one of the best statewide standards in existence in the United States.

Also, I need to insert a statement that in fact, Massachusetts developed its initial Common Core about 1997, 98, so that was their first run at this idea.

People's fears in Connecticut are based on several concerns. They are afraid that students will not be adequately prepared for the Smarter Balance test. They are afraid that teachers will not have adequate training to know how to teach the Common Core skills and knowledge effectively. They are afraid that if students do not score well on the Smarter Balance tests and get good grades, their children will not be able to attend the college of their choice, including the University of Connecticut and other tier one colleges like Yale, Harvard and Columbia.

Educators are very concerned that we are moving too quickly to establish a high stakes teacher and administrative evaluation system. They know that if their students perform poorly over several years, their jobs could be in jeopardy.

They are concerned that their performance will be measured against a series of tests that have not been used over a long enough period of time to be seen as both reliable and valid as measures of student achievement.

They know very well that it is proposed that at least half of the testing measure of a teacher's performance would be gauged against the standardized test. How do we proceed given these fears?

First, we need a much better way of explaining what the Common Core of learning is. It's nothing new. In the late nineteen seventies, higher level thinking and problem solving skills were built into the Common Core were integrated an integral part of what was called Bloom's Taxonomy of Educational Objectives.

Bloom's Taxonomy is a way of classifying the levels of difficulty in the knowledge and skills taught in classrooms from simply identifying to much more difficult, such as applying and evaluating.

Second, and in my view, yeah, second and in my view, the State Legislature, state and Legislature would be well served to take a couple of steps.

Set up a three-year implementation timeline for both the Common Core of learning and the Smarter Balance tests to allow sufficient training of teachers and teaching of students.

Do the same thing for making teacher and administrative evaluation systems high stakes. These steps would allow the Smarter Balance tests to be piloted and modified and made more reliable and valid. They would also give sufficient time to build familiarity and student achievement.

They would give sufficient time for teacher and administrative evaluation systems to be fine tuned. In the end, all involved would become more comfortable with the important tools being built to prepare students for life in the 21st century and vitally important educator and student accountability.

SENATOR STILLMAN: Thank you, Dr. Fisher. It was a pleasure. Can you give us an idea of how things are going in New London and maybe some of the surrounding towns in terms of Common Core?

NICK FISHER: I wouldn't, I can't really speak to surrounding towns. I can speak to New London. We have been implementing the Common Core for more than a year and a half and I want to say that I think the most important ingredient in implement Common Core is the same as it is in implementing a teacher evaluation system.

Teachers need to know what it looks like in the classroom so nobody is frightened by what they're supposed to do, and the ongoing challenge of any of these systems having implemented them over about a 30-year period is, you have to try them out. You have to work with them. You have to get lots of feedback from teachers about clarity, and something that I say frequently is, don't say you know what I mean. Ask a teacher. Ask a teacher to tell you in their own words what they think you mean by that standard, by that expectation.

And I think then you begin to find out whether the standards are clear and whether they're meaningful.

Speaking to, I think it was Representative Walko's question. Did I correctly pronounce your name? I would suggest that the Legislature consider what I call a five years out standard. Go five years out from when a student graduates and ask people in a cross section of the economy, are students prepared to do what you want them to do, whether they're in the military, they're at work, they're at home, they just graduated from a four-year college, they've been to a vo-tech school.

The real measure of success is not just the test score. The real measure of success is, do you have skills to have a range of choices to lead the life you want to as an adult, and I think the Common Core is a great step toward doing that.

SENATOR STILLMAN: Thank you very much. Thank you. I'm assuming then after a year and a half there's continued input --

NICK FISHER: Absolutely.

SENATOR STILLMAN: -- from teachers and maybe students as well and the Board.

NICK FISHER: Yes. We have constant conversations. I would be at fault to say that everybody is satisfied. There is always disagreement, and frankly, the disagreement is very healthy because it tells us when people are not really clear about what we're saying, and I think the worst thing we can do is assume clarity.

The most important thing we need to do is to check clarity and to see if people find if they're useful. The standards we used 30 years ago are not necessarily what students need now, and I think this is an evolving process.

As in Massachusetts, there was one set of Common Core standards involved in the late nineteen nineties. That was updated in 2010 as it should be. This is not some set of tablets that you leave in stone forever. You have to evaluate them. You have to build on them to help students become successful once they leave school.

SENATOR STILLMAN: Thank you very much for that clarify. Appreciate it. Representative Fleischmann.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you, Madam Chair. Dr. Fisher, I'd like to give you a chance to respond to what I think is one of the most significant concerns that I've heard raised today, which is, teachers who feel that while the Common Core standards may be broad when handed down from the consortium of states that developed them or the State of Connecticut State Department of Education as it promulgates them for the districts, that some districts in communicating to teachers how to reach the goals of the Common Core may have been over-prescriptive and maybe telling teachers too much about how they need to draw up their lesson plans and run their classrooms.

I'd just like to get your reaction to that concern that we've heard from some teachers here today.

NICK FISHER: If what you're asking me is, are some districts being more prescriptive than others in this? The answer is probably yes. We don't do that. We clearly recommend ways of getting there.

But I think the great thing about the Common Core is inherently suggested if you will in the test. The tests really say, show me different ways of solving this problem, if you look at the actual examples from the test in math or in any other areas. I think that's the method we ought to use.

There's no one way to teach every skill. In fact, in any classroom you're going to have a pretty wide range of students who have a pretty wide range of how they think about problem solving, reading, how they look at things, et cetera. One method is not going to work.

And I'd like to suggest that, I don't know how familiar this Committee is with the (inaudible). There's an approach to reading whole balance literacy and in that approach you may start off trying to teach one set of skills but during the week you broaden out and gear what you teach different groups of students based on their learning needs and you're constantly re-evaluating that. It's a real charge to do that well. It takes a ton of preparation and a lot of work and I know there are thousands of dedicated teachers who do that extremely well.

This is different. I think the real challenge of the Common Core is that it's going to take variety. There will not be one method that works. In fact, as unfortunately we all do, sometimes we learn more through failure than we do through success, and I think we're going to find out a great deal by what works for which students.

Being very prescriptive may be administratively comfortable. It's not necessarily the best way to teach kids.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you. That's helpful. And then just one other question, because you talked about what children read and what works.

In some earlier testimony today there was this distinction made between fiction and non-fiction --


REP. FLEISHMANN: -- both of which I happen to love and I think both have value. But there was essentially an implication that because there is a lot of non-fiction in the English language arts, that there's a lack of complex literary text.

And I was thinking back to my education in middle school reading Silent Spring by Rachel Carson.


REP. FLEISHMANN: In high school reading Guns of August by Barbara Tuckman. One is a work of eco-history, the other a work of sort of diplomatic history.

And so it sort of offends my sensibilities to be told non-fiction is non-literary, but you're an educator. I guess I wanted to hear your opinion on that.

NICK FISHER: Totally disagree with the notion that only fiction has literary, is only literarily rigorous, so to speak. There's lots of fiction out there that's very demanding. Plays are very demanding in understanding the human condition.

There is great stuff out there that asks kids to really think, and I think what we've really got to come back to is if you will, what we talked about in Bloom's Taxonomy 30 years ago.

Are we asking kids to apply what they know? Are we asking kids to evaluate what we know? Are we asking kids to interpret what they know? Are we asking kids to be able to synthesize what they know? And I think we often underestimate children by age.

Children in grade, in kindergarten do algebra. We don't think about it as such, but two plus two equals four is an algebraic equation and we teach kids that in kindergarten.

So I think we need to overcome some of our stereotypes and I totally agree with you that there are some wonderful works of fiction that really ask kids to think, to really understand how people think about the world. Works by Toni Morrison, for example are very much in depth and really get at the human condition.

In the same way, there are works of nonfiction. I was just reading a very interesting one about Sissy Spacek. She talked about growing up in Texas and what that meant to her and how she evolved as a person.

I think kids need to read a huge range of materials to get a sense of who's out there, whose experiences are the same, whose experiences are different because too often we lead pretty limited lives, and I think the function of going to school is in part to be better prepared to face a very diverse world and workplace.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you for that answer. Are there other questions from members of the Committee? Representative Ackert.

REP. ACKERT: Thank you, Mr. Chairman and Dr. Fisher, thank you for your testimony. Greatly appreciate it. My concern, your testimony is what brings out my frustration in how we've rolled this out ==


REP. ACKERT: -- and you seem to have, you know, done a noble job in your district to do that. We had a great testimony from a Wallingford superintendent that last, that did the same thing and I thought he should be out working with the other superintendents and helping them.

I serve four towns and I've heard this from other Legislators, so we really want to get everybody on the same page and we want to get everybody up to speed and we probably have years, and a couple of years difference in some of our communities with this roll out.


REP. ACKERT: I know one of my schools is teaching CMTs this year.


REP. ACKERT: So they're arguably two years behind if not more. Another town, another district is well into it, ready to do the Smarter Balance Assessment Consortium testing. You know, they don't have their IT department ready to go, but they've got a week, so we'll see how they do it in a week or two, they get their computer.

How do we know, and you mentioned something about a three-year implementation.


REP. ACKERT: For a town that's teaching CMT's we're talking 2017 now, in terms of, I mean, I think this is where my struggles have been with this issue, not the standards issue.

It's how we as a state implemented it and how are we going to get everybody on board, and if you have any insight onto that I'd be very interested.

NICK FISHER: I just want to check to see if I'm hearing you correctly.


NICK FISHER: One is, you're asking what's a reasonable timeframe for implementation and the second is, how do you know that students and teachers will be up to speed enough or at a place where we can know that students are being taught what they need to be taught and are ready to take this kind of test?

REP. ACKERT: Exactly. You essentially did a better job of asking my question to yourself.

NICK FISHER: Okay. If I may, I'd like to offer two frames of reference on this. Florida was one of the first states in the United States to do high stakes testing, and out of it came a case called Debra P. v. Turlington where the real issue that came up was, when do you have the right to deny somebody a property right, which is their diploma. And out of the Debra P. case came a very important set of standards, which may have value for this Committee.

One of them is that you have to make sure that teachers are trained to teach the content. Okay?

The second is, you have to make sure that that content's been taught, meaning you have to monitor it.

The third is, you have to give students a reasonable amount of time to demonstrate that they have the skills.

The framework that I'm suggesting or proposing to this Committee is based on those notions, because I've been through this in several states.

There is a tendency to go out and blame teachers, or blame kids or blame parents for what they haven't been taught, and I think that's a total mistake.

I think what you do is, you say we want to make this test count at the end of a certain period of time. We want to establish a base line.

The other reality is, if you will, that the first time people take the test you're going to be looking at several different things. One, how much do people understand the knowledge and skills involved?

The second is, how much do they understand the way the test is being delivered, the format of the test? If I may give you one example. In Florida when we first did this, kids have been taught subtraction up and down. On the test it was horizontal and kids blew it. Then they finally stepped back and figured, what's the problem? The kids understood subtraction. They have just never seen it horizontally, which said to us, you've got to look at not just the knowledgeable skills you're testing, but how you're testing it.

To me, any state test should be a confirmation of what you're teaching all the way through the year. Kids should not be having heart attacks and nervous breakdowns, nor should teachers.

So I think one index for a school district is how comfortable are the adults and the kids with the contents that we're teaching and testing. Based on my experience three years is a fairly reasonable amount of time.

Is everybody going to be comfortable? No.
But if you will, coming back to another question I heard here about how do you close the achievement gap? You look at both what you're teaching and how you're teaching it, and having been in three districts where we did close the achievement gap, when we stopped blaming people and started working people with, we want you to make a commitment to learning a different way of teaching all the kids and holding all the kids to high standards, we really started to see an acceleration of change, and by that, I mean, kids started doing better.

So the three-year notion is based on my experience. When we did MCAS in Massachusetts we took three years to roll it out and I'll tell you right now, we ran around to 350 school districts and different meetings and not everybody was happy with us.

But I think one of the reasons that Massachusetts is the way it is, is we spent a whole lot of time listening to people, not just about the roll out, but what they felt about the clarity of what they were expected to do.

I think people really get nervous when they're always asking us, what do you really want me to do? How am I supposed to do this? How do I know that what I'm doing is effective? You don't have to be very fancy to me, in how you ask those questions, but those are critical.

I hope that was responsive to what you're asking.

REP. ACKERT: That's just perfect, actually. You know, my, the issues that I've had and I think others, just not me, is that we're all over the place, you know, of all of our, you know, towns. Each one has to create their own curricula to meet the Common Core of State Standards. A lot of them haven't completed their curriculum, never mind have teacher special development on their new curricula, and having taught to students in this short period of time, this, you know, this half year that they're at, they now ask them to take a test on that curriculum.

So those are the frustrations that I have and --

NICK FISHER: I can understand.

REP. ACKERT: -- I hope as we move forward we help the Department of Education and our school districts to implement this, so thank you, sir.


REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you. Any other questions? Dr. Srinivasan.

REP. SRINIVASAN: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Thank you for your testimony. I know some time back when you began your testimony you talked about fear.


REP. SRINIVASAN: You talked about fear to a whole range of people, the parents, the students, the teachers, and so on and so forth ==


REP. SRINIVASAN: --and as you analyze that fear, my comment is, and then I'll ask you the question. My comment is that if we are doing what we are doing today, have we done that way ahead of time, you know, the public participation, the involvement of all the stakeholders at the table, which unfortunately we did not do, and rolled out.

And now of course going backwards, probably that fear that you just talked about across a wide range of people, and I felt that in my community as well, would have not been there because they would have been able to be informed, they would have participated and you would have heard their opinion before we rolled out this particular program.

NICK FISHER: If I may, I understand the fear and to some degree I totally agree with you, meaning that any time you roll out something new, people are going to be upset because it's different and it's asking people to change the way they're doing things. To change their lesson plans, to change their expectations.

We did something in New London that some people weren't pleased with, which is, I asked every teacher to define what they expected kids to know and be able to do at the end of each course. To some people that was new.

I have an issue with standards in our state and Senator Stillman has heard me say this frequently, probably ad nauseam, which is, I think we should demand that before a youngster gets a high school diploma that they can read and write at the tenth grade level.

I think we should demand that before a student gets a high school diploma, they should demonstrate math skills at the same level, because my question is, if we simply give students a diploma based on the amount of time they've spent in a course and whether they pass, how do we know what skills they have?

And I'm suggesting that the Common Core can be a vehicle for looking at that. But I agree, rolling out any new process is a challenge because it can be frightening. It can be upsetting. People are saying, are you accusing me of doing things in the wrong way? Are you saying that I'm not a professional? Are you saying that I'm not a good teacher? People feel attacked.

I think the important thing is not to stop rolling it out. I think the Common Core has great value to the state. I think higher standards has great value for the state. I think the important thing is to keep expanding the dialogue.

Just to give an example that's slightly off what you're talking about, we did get a waiver on our teacher evaluation system. We rolled it out three years ago, and what we do is meet once a month with the teachers' organization and talk constantly about what's working and what's not. I think the same thing has to happen with the Common Core.

There needs to be an ongoing dialogue with teachers, and frankly with students, to say, what is clearest, what's not clear, what's helpful to you, what's not helpful to you et cetera.

Because ultimately the people who have to deal with this are the kids. They're the ones who are going to have to come out of school and either be able to demonstrate skills or not be able to demonstrate skills.

And I think we need to talk, if you will, in very plain language, very straightforward, clear language about this is what we expect you to do, and if you will, maybe not the best metaphor but, this is the high jump we expect you to go over. Here's how high the bar is, and you may get there an approximation, but that's where you need to be, to be successful once you leave school.

I think we need to work on that clarity, but I don't think we need to lower the bar.

REP. SRINIVASAN: Thank you. Thank you for those comments and my question to you is, as a follow up of the comment that we just talked about is, I just want to be clear that this three-year period that we've been talking about, is that three years in terms of a roll out from now after all of these meetings are done and everything else, or are you talking about three years in terms of seeing how effective this particular program has been in terms of achieving our goals, let's say you're reducing the achievement gap as an example?

NICK FISHER: Well, I think we should be clear about what our goals are now. I don't think we need to wait, and I think goals can change and build over time. You don't need to throw out the baby with the bath water. I don't agree with the idea of stopping this.

I think what we need to do is be clear about what we're trying to accomplish right now with this, what we think is a reasonable measure and then when we get three years down the road, say, what have we accomplished, what have we learned. Right? Step back and say what have we learned and then how do we want to build the goals.

You know, we often talk about strategic plans. Strategic plans are not things that you do once. They're things that you update annually. You say, how does this work? What's happened? How do you do it and is it working?

We set three goals in New London. People told me I was nuts. Maybe I am. The three goals are, 80 percent of our students should be at goal in math. Eighty percent of our kids should be at goal in English and language arts and less than five percent of our kids should drop out of school.

People said, but you'll never get there. I said, how do we know that? How do we know that unless we try? How do we know that unless we believe that in a standards-based system, if you really believe in a standards-based system, that 95 percent of the children can't get there?

Then it becomes our jobs as educators to make sure that they are afforded the skills and knowledge and taught in a way that they can demonstrate that skills and knowledge.

What we said in New London, we've established a literacy standard for graduation. I have taken what's called the IDEA standard, the Individual Disabilities Act standard and said, we will guarantee that students will be offered free educational services up to age 21 to reach that reading standard, whether it's through adult education, through our high school, through a current, you know, a credit recovery program or whatever, because it's my belief that we are doing students harm if we don't do that.

I think we need to expand our window of the amount of time it may take some students to achieve that standard, but no way should we back away from it.

REP. SRINIVASAN: Thank you very much for the clarification. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you. Are there any other questions? Representative Davis.

REP. DAVIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Dr. Fisher, thank you very much for your presentation. One of the issues that has arisen is, where science and technology stand as far as the Common Core goes --


REP. DAVIS: -- particularly in grades six through twelve there are literacy standards in science and technology but not content standards.


REP. DAVIS: How does your district handle this issue and should we have state standards in science and technology, or should we leave it up to the districts?

NICK FISHER: I think we should do both. I remember very clearly the process we had to go through in Massachusetts to get there. You're never going to achieve total consensus. I just want to be very clear about that. Any time you get more than two people in the room at the same time, your likelihood of getting total consensus becomes more limited, so what you've essentially got to do at one point or another is say, what's our index?

I'm suggesting to this group that the index needs to be, talk to a broad group of stakeholders, not just university people, but as a distinguished member of the State Board said, ask people who are in agriculture. Ask people who are in industry. Ask people who are in services. Ask people who work for Electric Boat. Ask people who work for Pratt & Whitney. Ask people who work for the casino industry what skills do you need somebody to have in order to be successful once they get out into the workplace.

In the area of science and technology, and I'm speaking this from the perspective of having two kids, I'm a recovering parent, which means that both of my kids are out of the house and they're working, all right? Neither of them have been home since they got out of college, which is nice. They do come home and visit, which is great.

One of them is an electrical engineer and graduated from Purdue and the other is a biochemist and she's working on cancer biology down at (inaudible) Cornell University.

They were not exactly encouraged in school to go into science and math. We encouraged them, and I said to them what I think we should say to every young person. I don't care whether you want to be a mathematician. I don't care whether you want to be a scientist. I care that you have the skills to have choices. That's what I care about.

Now my kids made the choices they did, and when my daughter was going through her six semesters of calculus to get out of Purdue, she would call up almost every night and say, dad, what am I doing? And then finally in her final year she said, dad, I know what I'm doing and I said why? She said because when I get out I'm going to be earning $45,000 a year and everybody else is going to be earning 20. All right?

I think part of what we need to do is look at what literacy and science and technology means, not just from a university perspective, which is one and very valuable, but also, from an applied perspective. What is it that the people in the workplace really need in order for a student to be successful?

I'll give you one skill and Senator, I'm sorry if I'm not catching your name correctly, but you raised early childhood skills. We don't teach people to work together very well. We depend on athletic teams to do that for about 20 percent of our youngsters, and yet when people get out into the workplace and you ask CEOs, what skills do you really think a youngster needs and they'll say they need to have verbal and written literacy. They need to be able to compute mathematically and use a computer. They should be able to communicate and they need to be able to work together and problem solve. How often do we do that?

If you will, that's a kind of literacy that's absolutely critical and if you will, socialization and play are very important. But also, if you will, they're very controversial because what starts to happen is, you get into the whole area of what's the right way of child rearing, and I'm just saying that not that we shouldn't address those early childhood skills, but it can be controversial and challenging, and there are states parenthetically that have addressed that.

There are states that have done an outstanding job and we plagiarize playfully, right, from other states like Georgia and New York that have done amazing development of Common Core curriculum. Do we use it all? No.

Do we, because what I say to teachers is, I hired you not to just use one approach. I hired you to make professional judgments about what works with which kids and I want to see what the results are. Show me what works with which kids and what's going to help kids be successful.

So I totally agree that we need to address literacy issues. I think we do need to address it from multiple perspectives.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Any other questions for the witness? If not, thank you very much for your time and your testimony.

NICK FISHER: Thank you.

REP. FLEISHMANN: It's been brought to my attention that there may be a couple more students here who were a bit shy when I asked if there were students present, so I'll ask again, are there some students who might like to testify? Please come forward.

And we've got two seats for what looks like two young men and perhaps their mom. If you can state your names and hometowns for the record, that would helpful. Thanks.

CHARLES DICKINSON: Charles Dickinson, East Haddam.

BEN: Ben. East Haddam.

SHERRY DICKINSON: Sherry Dickinson, East Haddam. I'm going to just do a --

A VOICE: Can you talk into the microphone, please.

SHERRY DICKINSON: I'm just going to tell you a little bit about the background and the boys are going to tell you about the true life experience they had with Common Core.

I'm the parent of two children. My daughter Sara graduated before Common Core was implemented in our district. She's very successful at Quinnipiac in a pre-law program. She did not require any remedial process and she was sort of the No Child Left Behind mastery testing.

When I first heard about Common Core, we thought as parents it was great. Who doesn't want higher standards? We're still waiting to see them.

We started noticing changes. This year is Charles is a sophomore and Ben is a freshman. When we asked about the curriculum, we were told repeatedly by our district that they don't have a curriculum. We don't have textbooks. When we asked why we don't have textbooks and why we don't have curriculum we were told it's because of Common Core. We're waiting to see what the state is going to have us align to Common Core.

So our kids have been learning for the last year and half, with no books, no curriculum. We've seen the anxiety that they're going through as high school students. Charles came home in December and asked to be moved to a private school because of the anxiety.

Eleven o'clock Sunday night I had a student show up at my door in tears over the anxiety and the boys are going to speak to that.

CHARLES DICKINSON: About the anxiety part of it. I know friends that have that, way before Common Core came in when it was implemented last year who were happy, smiling every day, and this year I've learned that they've been cutting themselves, which is awful to hear as a friend.

It was that as well, but also, it's also not preparing us (inaudible). I did change schools to a school that did not use Common Core and when I did, there were significant gaps from where they were and where I was to the point where I had to get tutors now for math because I didn't know some basic algebra that I should have known to progress into geometry, which made it hard for me to get into geometry.

As well as my writing is not up to par with their standards than it was with Common Core standards, so everybody's talking about have to look at college, but what about (inaudible) the kids for high school and things like that.

BEN: Since I was in fourth grade I have been on the accelerated route and I was in Algebra 1 last year and now I'm in Algebra 1 again and my teacher did not teach at all what I should have been teached. This year I am learning complete different things than what she taught last year.

And my brother who's in sixth grade right now, he came home crying a couple of weeks ago because he failed, he was failing courses and pretty much what the teacher wrote on them is he did the, he got the right answers. He just didn't show his work so all they wanted him to do was to have his work shown, if the answer was wrong or right.

So that's like saying that if someone's making a bridge and they do, they make the bridge right, but just measure everything wrong and the bridge falls apart, that's responsibility of death or injury, and lately, I have been noticing that the problem is becoming and I am thinking of joining another school because of this.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you. First, I'd just like to start by correcting what may be a misimpression. So, in every district that I'm aware of, there may be requirements to show your work in addition to giving the right answer, but if you show your work and get the wrong answer, you don't get 100 percent correct. That's just not how it's done. You have to go show your work and arrive at the correct conclusion.

But Charles, I want to understand your statement because it was counter to much of what has been discussed here today. The Common Core standards are essentially higher than the standards that precede them in the State of Connecticut.

There was an analysis done and essentially the prior standards met 80, 90 percent of the goals of Common Core, but that Common Core had some additional goals that went beyond and so, in the state in rolling out had to basically show districts here the places where the standards go past where they went previously and the additional things that must be added to reach the standards.

So I'm just trying to understand your comments. Are you saying that you were in a school that said it was adhering to Common Core standards and left for a school that was not, and you found that the school that claimed to be adhering to Common Core standards was giving you a weaker education than the school that was not?


REP. FLEISHMANN: And well, maybe we'll have a discussion off microphone after the hearing just about what schools and school systems were involved, because that certainly runs counter to any notions of what Common Core standards are supposed to do for students.

CHARLES DICKINSON: May I say one thing? What everyone's saying here today is what they've heard from the state and what people are saying. What I'm saying is experience, how it's being submitted and actually happening. It's experience, it's not, well it should be this. This is what's happening. This is what is going on.

REP. FLEISHMANN: That's why I said I'd be interested to find out the schools and the districts involved. Thank you. Are there other comments or questions? Senator Bartolomeo.

SENATOR BARTOLOMEO: Thank you, Mr. Chair. And thank you guys for being here. I'm sure it's not at all comfortable to sit around and have this conversation and we thank you.

I, you know, all kids are different. I have one child in public school, one child in private school. What I'm wondering is, we're hearing you and we want to make sense of what you're telling us. Can you give us any examples about why all of a sudden children are so much more anxious? We're hearing that you're saying they are but what I haven't heard is what changed in the school? What changed in the environment for you to link that to their anxiety?

BEN: Well, last year we came into the high school as freshmen and I was excited. (Inaudible) Common Core and people were disgruntled about it but they weren't really enjoying it and then this year it kind of morphed into a strong, the Common Core kind of morphed into a stronger, much more present and more kids were trying to get like, kids who were straight A students are now getting Ds in classes.

And they're getting frustrated and stressed out about it because they want to get good grades. They had been and now it's just unreachable for them, so they're getting frustrated and angry because they're putting in as much effort as they can and they're not getting anything out of it. They're not learning. They're just getting, you know, a D in things, you fail.

CHARLES DICKINSON: Also, since our teachers weren't properly teaching us last year, it led to failing test grades or quiz grades, which as me, if I do poorly on a test or a quiz, that I get frustrated with that. So just imagine what somebody failing it and not even knowing what the thing was even about, what the test was even about.

SHERRY DICKINSON: The other problem with our district is, Common Core was rolled out extremely quick. We're dealing with implementation, like I said we have no curriculum, no books. Teachers are learning Common Core. They tried to implement a new policy with standard based grading. The kids were supposed to take, at the high school they were supposed to take the academic behaviors out of the letter grades and give the kids a number grade for academic behavior, including homework. That still hasn't happened.

So the kids have figured out, they spend all this time on homework but they don't get credit for it. So there's a lot of frustration.

And the fact that the teachers are so frustrated because they're not even sure what their standards are. And the kids would come home at night and like they change it every day.

So it's not so much that we don't want higher standards. I would love to not be paying the Williams School in New London $27,000 a year for my son to go to school and the Town of East Haddam my taxes.

However, when you're a parent and your child comes into you at night and for a 15-year-old boy to say, I'm drowning, I can't do this and to see a whole attitude change, a whole desperation to have kids calling you at night saying, Mrs. D., come help me. What's the matter? I can't do this. I can't go to school tomorrow because I'm not doing this. I've just thrown my whole college career away.

This should have been implemented elementary school and worked its way up. You can't change the rules on these kids as sophomores, juniors and seniors. It's putting way too much stress and anxiety on them, especially when the districts weren't ready for it.

SENATOR BARTOLOMEO: I thank you for answering that question. I think that helps paint a picture a little bit better, and I appreciate that and I think that you know, Chairman Fleischmann did say that he wanted to get more information from you afterwards because there's a wide variety of how districts are implementing and some better than others, certainly, and I think we hear what you're saying and unfortunately, it sounds like it wasn't the best of implementation.

I think that we have to realize, too, there are some kids who are now in those lower grades who will have the opportunity to see this progress and I think that one message, I guess, is that parents are going to need to understand, the students are going to need to understand, there's going to be a process by which everyone coming, you know, coming up to par with this, in a sense.

So there will be a difference in the testing relating to the Common Core and it won't, it's not apples to apples. It's going to be apples to oranges for a little bit and it doesn't mean that the students are not doing a great job, that the teacher's not. It's just measuring of different things and I think that that's a very hard adjustment.

So I appreciate you humanizing that for us and telling us, you know, on a student's level. I very much appreciate that. Thank you.

SHERRY DICKINSON: Well, I don't think it's fair to change the rules on these kids three years, you know, college is going to get their transcripts. And you're not comparing apples to apples like you said. They're not taking the adjusted SAT scores, but in the colleges, their standards are going to be, after these graduate, but they're being held to that standard and it's raising so much anxiety on these kids.

You really need to look in to see the drop out rate, the suicide rate and the attempted suicide rate and the discipline rate at the high schools to see the stress that these kids are under because of this implementation. It should have been, I have no problem with it being rolled out or held to higher standard. No parent does.

But it needed to start at the lower level. Start it in the elementary schools and work the way up. Don't do it to the kids when they're already on college (inaudible). That's not fair.

SENATOR BARTOLOMEO: Thank you very much and as the mother of a senior who's applying to colleges, I empathize with you and I appreciate your being here today. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you. Representative Lavielle.

REP. LAVIELLE: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Thank you for coming. I particularly appreciate hearing the experience as you live it and I think that's why we're here, so if there's anything that you want to say publicly, please say it. Please continue to say it.

I'm not going to tell you how I think you ought to be living the experience because you're the ones in it and I think it's particularly important for us today. This is why we're here, to understand exactly how it's affecting you.

You may be out of the school system before things turn around. I don't know. But I wanted to ask you, if I'm understanding you correctly, just corroborate this to correct me, whatever you want to do.

I think you said that you were getting right answers before and now you're getting the same answers, which are right, but you're being told that you're all wrong because of the way you're getting to those answers. Is that what I heard you say?

CHARLES DICKINSON: Yeah, it is. If we do the work, but if we don't show the work how it's supposed to be, they'll take points off of it, even if we get the right answer.

REP. LAVIELLE: How does it make you feel? I mean, what's your experience day to day going to school?

CHARLES DICKINSON: Well, even if I get the right, like I will go over my tests probably a couple times to make sure that it says do all of the work and I pay attention in class so that when it comes test or quiz time that that won't come up and I know how to, I listen to everyone and I hear how the proper way to do it.

REP. LAVIELLE: Well, I guess it's the proper way to do it according to what now is, I guess proper is a relative term.

Is there an example of something, like a math problem or a thought process you could give, and I don't mean to put you on the spot, but has something happened recently that you could describe to us?

CHARLES DICKINSON: Well, I heard lately before today two plus two equals four and it's an algebraic equation. But it's actually a numeric equation. So if I wrote that on a test or a quiz, I would have gotten that wrong and I would have had to (inaudible) my answers and if I didn't show the work and since there's not an X or a variable in there, then it wouldn't be an algebraic equation.

REP. LAVIELLE: I think, thank you. I think it's important just to, that we all remember that today we heard, we have, I don't want to use the past tense because there's a lot of people left here to speak, but we have heard several perspectives on whether these standards are higher or whether they aren't, and I think there's room for all views on that.

And one of the things that we're seeking to find out is, by requesting sort of delay, is that the standards be examined to see whether we really can consider them higher or not and I suspect we'll find that in certain cases they are and in others they are not.

How, I meant to ask you when I started asking the question and I forgot to. What district do you live in? What town are you from?



REP. LAVIELLE: Okay, thank you. Because that's always useful for us to know. Are your friends going through the same type of experience, do you find?

CHARLES DICKINSON: Yeah, and last year I had, we had 110 students in our grade and now this year we only have 70 students, that have all gone to different schools because of this.

REP. LAVIELLE: Is there anything else you'd like to tell us about the experience and how it makes you feel or what your fears are related to it?

BEN: I would say that our peers are just worried because now, I don't know how to describe it, everything's in (inaudible) and no one, because they've all been taught the same way. They're doing well, or they were, you know, working on doing well. Not every student was getting As. There are some students who are still struggling with that, who were still struggling before Common Core and then now they're adding those different things, entirely different process. It's an entirely different thing because they have to start now and it's becoming almost impossible to (inaudible) history class and my teacher, her lesson plans were impossible to follow because one day we were talking about the Renaissance and the next would be something about what's happening in Iraq, and there would be no correlation (inaudible).

So especially with me when I was at the school with my peers, it was frustrating and worrisome that you know, now that colleges are starting to look at us, everything's being changed and we're trying to acclimate to it and we're not able to. We're still trying to find out feet (inaudible).

REP. LAVIELLE: And forgive me for repeating this question, but what grade are you all in? When did this hit you in your school career?

BEN: I'm a sophomore now but it was (inaudible).

CHARLES DICKINSON: I'm a ninth grader and it was starting when I was in eighth grade.

REP. LAVIELLE: Okay. That is very useful. I think hearing from you and how you're living it is one of the most things that we've heard so far all day. Thank you for waiting and for taking the time.

SHERRY DICKINSON: May I just have an example --


SHERRY DICKINSON: My daughter was in the accelerated history class two years ago that he was in and she had to do papers every week like current events. His class this year under Common Core they did posters every week. He didn't write a single paper. So I don't understand how that's more rigorous.

SENATOR BYE: Okay. We're going to have to, just because of timing. Thank you for coming for your testimony. We really appreciate it, but we have about, we really want to get to as many people as we can.

Just so members know, and we have 100 people who have been waiting patiently for their turn, so thank you so much for coming.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you, and that's Senator Bye, Vice-Chairman of the Committee who's acting as Chairman this evening. Dr. Miguel Cardona is next, followed by Brooke Cheney.

MIGUEL CARDONA: Good afternoon and thank you for having me here, dear members of the General Assembly. Thank you for the opportunity to speak on Bill 5331 and Bill 5078.

Allowing for public participation and input in matters as important as these, are symbolic of the foundation upon which this country was built. By looking at the number in attendance, it's clear that many want to share their thoughts. I want to thank you again for the opportunity.

When I got here at 8:35 this morning and I picked out Ticket Number 18, I felt like the kid in Willy Wonka's Factory. Little did I know that Ticket Number 18, and I know that there are many, many that got higher numbers, so I'll be happy to answer as many questions, but I also respectfully defer the time on questions that I have, so that others could speak. I'd be happy to comment and continue away.

I come to you today as an educator in my 16th year in Meriden public schools, an advocate for schools. I serve as the Co-Chair of the Legislative Achievement Gap Task Force and a school leader. After having served as a school principal for ten years, I currently have the pleasure of supporting Meriden teachers as we move forward with a new evaluation and development plan.

Most importantly, however, I sit here today speaking to you as a father of two elementary aged children, Miguel and Celine, and I know I speak for Meriden Superintendent Dr. Benigni and his wife, Amy, who also have two children in the same school as my children.

I went into education because I wanted to make a difference in the lives of children. I'm here today because that passion has only gotten stronger over the years. For me, today there's more at stake, my own children.

Yet, in Connecticut, your zip code and color skin still factor as better determinants of your success than many other factors.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress Data, commonly referred to as the nation's report card shows that as far back as 25 years there have been gaps in achievement between black, Latino and poor children and their majority counterparts that have gone relatively unchanged.

As Co-Chair of the Achievement Gap Task Force, with your support, we will submit a master plan that will aim to address this. These data should create urgency in all of us. For me, I don't want my own children, who live in Meriden, and attend Meriden public schools to have any less opportunity to achieve than their peers in neighboring communities.

They should be able to attend Meriden public schools and succeed and thanks to their wonderful mother, teachers and school, they will.

Over the last ten years under No Child Left Behind era in education, we saw a tremendous narrowing curriculum to those things that were assessed. Worse, we saw too many teaching and classroom activities that mirror the format of the test.

Unfortunately, teachers in (inaudible) districts had to prepare the students for the test in ways that limited their ability to shape instruction based on student needs.

This shift to the Common Core gives us the opportunity to hit the reset button on ten years of practices that were partly ineffective. It allows us to rethink the skill and drill practice and over-emphasis on test prep that have stunted the growth of our students and narrowed the creativity and autonomy that our teachers need to meet the needs of their learners.

Adopting a curriculum that is based on thinking and problem solving, one that prepares my children for a world that looks different than the one we live in today and one that helps reverse the achievement disparities in the state is what we need.

It makes sense for our kids. It makes sense for our economy. Given the NAPE data, what we're doing is clearly not working. Doing the same of something that's not working makes no sense.

I'm not talking about educational reform here. We need to constantly evolve in education and we need to keep evolving faster and with the continued input of various stakeholders.

Teachers and leaders need more support. Research shows that in a schoolhouse, no other factors matter more relative to school achievement, student achievement than teacher, than the teacher and the leader.

SENATOR BYE: If you could just wrap up.


SENATOR BYE: I didn't hear the bell but --

A VOICE: (Inaudible).

MIGUEL CARDONA: Did it? Okay. There's only one thing I can guarantee. It's not going to work out perfectly the first year, so I strongly suggest that we do not put a hold on things. Move forward. Listen to our teachers. Listen to our leaders and listen to our parents and to our students and do the best for our kids in the State of Connecticut. Thank you for your time.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you, Dr. Cardona. Are there questions for the superintendent? Senator Bartolomeo.

SENATOR BARTOLOMEO: Thank you. And for full disclosure, I've known Dr. Cardona for many, many years and I think the world of your work and I'm proud to have you in Meriden.

I just wonder if, in your statewide advocacy and the work that you've done statewide, do you see much of a disparity between how districts are implementing Common Core because I've heard things today that I am surprised by because in Meriden it has not been, you know, I've talked to you. I've talked to Dr. Benigni. I haven't heard the problems in Meriden that I've heard here today.


SENATOR BARTOLOMEO: Do you have any opinion or comment as to why that's so?

MIGUEL CARDONA: Yes. I'm the Performance Evaluation Specialist. I'm not the Superintendent of Schools. Implementation is really important and focus on implementation.

We in Meriden have taken an approach to involve our stakeholders in the teacher evaluation process and Common Core roll out. Teachers have a significant part of the development of the Common Core.

At the state level, as we've heard today, there are different ways that districts have implemented but that's why the Governor's Task Force is really important so that now we could have a state level of advocacy and input from different stakeholders to make sure that we learn from those districts that have had a difficult time implementing it.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you. Other questions? Hearing none, thank you very much.


REP. FLEISHMANN: Brooke Cheney to be followed by Charlotte Giannotti.

BROOKE CHENEY: All right, I'm a professional now. My name is Brooke Cheney. I'm from Harwinton, Connecticut. I've come before some of you on a variety of issues, and I hate to sound like a broken record, but I think I'm going to.

My belief is one size does not fit all. I am here in support of H.B. 5078 and I hope that we can stop this, if not just delay it a little bit longer until you have further information.

All of us today have gotten to hear the kind of information both pro and con. The idea of going forward to try it out and work the kinks out sounds good, but at the same time we're investing money that at some point someone will say, well, we've put so much time and effort into this and money, we can't turn back now.

I don't know if you have my testimony in front of you or not, but I believe that if one has a problem that we need to require the solution.

There are many successful programs out there. Below are just a few ideas for what to do to raise the education and employability for our next generation.

Some people have brought this up. I have a pile of reports here that talk about academic success among poor and minority students, successful schools from research to action plans, academic success among poor and minority students, a climate for academic success. Every single one of these reports essentially says, you need to start in the community. Not at the top, not at the state level, but in the community, whether it's a town or a city or a small hamlet, each town needs to be heard and they need to have what works for them.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. One size does not fit all, and I do not envy you your late evening tonight. Thank you for your time.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you for your testimony. Any questions? If not --

SENATOR BYE: Thank you, Brooke for coming up again and we're lucky because we get to hear from the community, so we're happy to be here. Thank you for waiting and thanks to everyone (inaudible).


REP. FLEISHMANN: So speaking of waiting, it's been brought to my attention that we have another student who wasn't here when I made the last call for students, so I'd like to ask her to come forward. I believe her name is Sabrina Garcia. Sabrina, it looks like you have some good bodyguards.

A VOICE: (Inaudible).

REP. FLEISHMANN: So, just to be clear, this is for Sabrina and it's three minutes. If all of you can just please state your names for the record, that would be helpful.

JENNIFER STRAUB: Good evening. I'm Jennifer Straub, principal of Maloney High School in Meriden, Connecticut and I'm here this evening with my colleague, Susan Moore from the Career and Technical Education Department of Maloney and we are joined this evening by our student, Sabrina Garcia, who is a senior at Maloney High School and we're here this evening to speak on House Bill 5519, a bill concerning student internship.

SABRINA GARCIA: As Mrs. Straub said, my name is Sabrina Garcia, and I am planning on attending college and majoring in accounting when I graduate. So I first became interested in accounting when someone suggested the career to me. I really didn't know what it was. I wanted to give it a shot so I took Accounting 1 my junior year, and it seemed to me like it was something I really understood and wanted to, you know, learn more about.

So this year I took Accounting II. So my accounting teacher, Mrs. Moore, offered an opportunity to me to intern at a local nonprofit organization, so I was interested in it because I wanted to get a better understanding for the field and to see how it was in the real world.

So in order to be considered for the internship I had to fill out an application and I had to go to an interview with the director of the organization, and I wanted my teacher to involve learning objectives and outcomes for the internship.

The experience itself was educational. It was almost like applying for a job, so I got to see what it was like. While it would be nice to get paid, you know, for the internship, I know that it's a learning opportunity for me and it would be voluntarily be done.

So I have been waiting for the internship since December but I can't start it until my teacher receives a waiver from the State Department of Education to allow me to participate in an unpaid internship.

So I'm looking forward to working there and gaining this experience and I hope that it will begin soon, so I encourage the Committee to consider it in the legislation that allows the student to participate in internship whether or not they are paid.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you for that well written, well presented and well timed testimony. It ended right on the bell. And really, you hit on the whole reason this bill is important to us. We want to make it easier for students like yourself to get the internships and not have unnecessary obstacles. To thank you.

Are there questions or comments from members of the Committee? Senator Bartolomeo.

SENATOR BARTOLOMEO: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I just want to say thank you very much for coming up from Meriden and representing us well. Sabrina, thank you. You did a fabulous job and go back to Maloney and tell my son, Riley, he could apply for an internship.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Are there questions? If not, thank you very much.



REP. FLEISHMANN: We now are at Charlotte Giannotti to be followed by Merrill Gay. Welcome.

CHARLOTTE GIANNOTTI: Good evening. My name is Charlotte Giannotti. I'm a mom from East Haddam, Connecticut. I have two boys. My oldest son is going to be 21. He, in 2011 graduated from a technical high school in Connecticut. My youngest son is now a tenth grader in technical high school in Connecticut and what a difference five years makes. They're five years apart.

Due to Common Core State Standards there have been dramatic changes, and I have seen the difference it has made in my younger son. Fortunately, my older son was spared the full wrath of the implementation of Common Core.

In school, he was encouraged to think creatively and do simple math problems in his head. He learned cursive as well as computer skills. In high school he read full novels and not just short stories and excerpts. English language art included classic American literature, book reports, oral presentations were assigned regularly, textbooks were brought home and I was able to reference them to help my son with his homework. Math was all about numbers five years ago.

I'm ashamed to say, that like most parents, I recently learned everything I never hoped to know about the Common Core State Standards. The more I learned, the less I liked this federal education reform disguised as state standards.

It is said that hindsight is 20/20. I realize now that I neglected to see red flags. My younger son is now in the tenth grade. In second grade he had a brief introduction to cursive. It was just letter formation. This lesson plan was aborted when his school was granted money to purchase computers through No Child Left Behind. Keyboarding replaced cursive and penmanship. When I expressed this concern to my son's teacher, she told me that my fears were unwarranted. She said, don't worry, mom, soon all the writing will be done on computers. It won't hurt his future. Some of the people with the best careers have the worst handwriting. Take doctors, for instance.

I wasn't even thinking that he'd never be able to sign his name or read a historical document like the Constitution.

During middle school years I began to notice an emphasis on morally charged issues being addressed in schools, one world government, pro choice, same sex marriage, Darwinism and climate change. English language arts was a whole different animal. Reading became less about literature and more about social issues. Dinner conversation at my house had changed from sharing stories about daily activities to contentious debates about politics, society, and sometimes even age inappropriate subject matter that had been covered in school.

Some of it is inconsistent with our beliefs. Math used to be sensible and logical and came to my son very naturally and now it's complicated, tedious and confusing. Simple problems now require several methods for students to arrive at the same solution, even when there is one best approach.

My son is in --

SENATOR BYE: If you could just wrap up.


SENATOR BYE: You're doing a great job. If you could just wrap up.

CHARLOTTE GIANNOTTE: My son is in tenth grade now and my concern is that in ninth grade he took Algebra II advanced. In tenth grade he's taking geometry. Common Core tops out at Algebra II. What will my son do junior and senior year, for two more years, and it's a great concern of mine.

And the emotional stress on our family has been unbelievable because of the Common Core standards and I just, you know, I just urge you guys to do something to stop the standards the way they are and start fresh somehow so that these kids don't fall through the holes.

SENATOR BYE: Thank you. Thank you for your testimony. Are there any questions? We really appreciate your patience and your input, so that's why we're doing this. So thank you very much.


SENATOR BYE: Next up is Merrill Gay to be followed by Deborah Stevenson.

MERRILL GAY: Good evening, Chairman Fleischmann, Chairman Bye, members of the Committee. My name is Merrill Gay. I'm the Executive Director of the Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance. I'm here to speak on two bills that I've submitted testimony on, Senate Bill 424, which is about requiring DCF to enroll three and four-year-olds in their custody in preschool.

I have realized that there was a mistake in that testimony. I said that 56 percent of kids were, of that group were in preschool. It's actually the inverse. It's 44, meaning the problem is even worse, and that makes the argument of why this ought to be required that much more compelling.

What I really want to focus my remarks on today is House Bill 5522, which would change the school readiness reimbursement rate for the full day, full year slots.

If you have my testimony in front of you there are two tables in there that may provide a different way of looking at the school readiness reimbursement rate. There are four different types of school readiness slot. There is the full day, full year, the part day, the school day, school year and an extended day.

If I focus just on the three that have 98 percent of the money that's the full day, full year program, the school day and the part day.

Currently we reimburse the full day, full year program at $8,346, which comes to an hourly rate of $3.47. You compare that to the part day, the two and a half hour a day program during the school year, which is 450 hours out of the year and that's $10 an hour.

So we are really giving, if a program is thinking about what kind of preschool should I provide, there's a real financial incentive to doing the half day program, even though we know many families really need full day care so that they could work.

If you look at the second table, what I've done is compare the difference in the hourly rate. In the first column is the current rates. The second column is under the Governor's proposal of a three percent increase across the board and then the final column is under H.B. 5522.

What you'll see is the Governor's proposal of three percent across the board increase, well that sounds great for providers who haven't gotten an increase since 2006. What it does is, it exacerbates the difference, the hourly rate difference between the full day and the part day, so I'd really encourage you to support 5522. I'd be happy to answer any questions.

SENATOR BYE: Thank you very much, Merrill for your testimony on both bills. Just to take it a step further for Committee members if they have the chart in front of them. Do you know what the state is reimbursing per hour for a magnet school preschool?

MERRILL GAY: I haven't figured that on an hourly level. I know that they're doing $10,000, which is more than, they're comparing to the school day, school year rate of $6,000 for school readiness. For the magnet schools it's $10,000.

SENATOR BYE: Right. I know it's over $9 an hour if you look at what the state is paying for without requiring accreditation so that our state funded charters and state funded magnets when you only look at state-funded programs --


SENATOR BYE: -- it's over $9 an hour. So your testimony is very well done and very well received here because it seems like we should take all that money and give it all to the full day --

MERRILL GAY: Full year programs.

SENATOR BYE: -- full year programs.


SENATOR BYE: Which are getting you, significantly less and being asked to be open 50 weeks a year, 10 hours a day with no exceptions. So either we look at reducing that, or we look at, you know, increasing it so we have that full day year care available for families, because these programs just aren't going to make it.

MERRILL GAY: Yeah, and with these programs all facing higher degree requirements for their teachers, not having had an increase since 2006, we've already seen 16 percent of that value eaten up by inflation and now they're being asked to do more.

SENATOR BYE: Yeah. Thank you so much. Are there other questions? Representative Fleischmann.

REP. FLEISHMANN: I just wanted to briefly thank you. You know when you and others in the Early Childhood Alliance met with me and the Co-Chair and others to sketch out that there was a problem it was kind of in broad terms and you hadn't had a chance to do these charts.

But I think for anyone who's trying to develop rational policy, these charts are invaluable because they show that we have a completely unfair policy that advantages these part-time, part-year programs over the full day, full-year programs that are most needed by the families on the downside of the achievement gap.

So I really appreciate the service you've done by sketching it out so clearly and obviously there will be discussions between the Education and Appropriations Committees about how best to use the additional dollars fairly.

MERRILL GAY: And I, just before I leave I want to remind you that we worked really hard to establish parity between the school readiness programs and the state-funded childcare centers that also provide preschool and it's really important when you're doing the math to figure out how much money you need to include those state-funded centers as well because the Governor didn't quite (inaudible) calculate that three percent interest.

SENATOR BYE: Yeah, I think that was an oversight and we definitely have taken note. And I would just ask if you prepare this table for the Appropriations Committee that you add in state funded charters and magnet schools per pupil per hour and also what the accreditation requirements are or standard requirements are to get those dollars because we're asking these people on $3.47 an hour to meet a higher standard than we're asking the charters and magnets so I think it's really important that we see that as well, and degree requirements, okay?

MERRILL GAY: Great. Thank you.

SENATOR BYE: Thank you, Merrill. Deborah Stevenson, to be followed. Oh, I'm sorry. Yes, Representative Ackert.

REP. ACKERT: Thank you for your testimony. Thank you, Madam Chair. The, thank you for the charts. It is obviously, you know, seeing is believing, so. But what are the numbers, do we know the numbers between those in full day and those that are part day?

MERRILL GAY: The number for full day is $7,620, I think. They are the majority of the school readiness slots.


MERRILL GAY: The, I don't remember the number of part day slots, but I know that there's a total of $11,310, so it's the difference.

REP. ACKERT: Yeah, I just, $4,000 plus or something along that line. Okay. That's what I was curious to see how many people are in the full day, because if, you know, $11,000 were in the full day then we're talking about a small, miniscule, but if it's, you know, a third, which it seems to be a little bit more than that, then we have a situation we can work on.

MERRILL GAY: I know that from my experience as a, on the School Readiness Council in New Britain that we had program providers hesitant to take new slots because they were not making, they were not breaking even on the full day, full year slots.

REP. ACKERT: Thank you, and it's a problem we can fix, I think with this. Thank you. Thank you, Madam Chair.

SENATOR BYE: Thank you, Representative Ackert and I apologize for my oversight. Deb Stevenson to be followed by William Battle.

DEBORAH STEVENSON: Thank you. I am Attorney Deborah Stevenson. I'm from Southbury and I practice in the area of education law, appellate law and constitutional law and have been since 1999.

I'm here today to ask you actually, to vote no on H.B. 5078, but not for the reasons you might think. I absolutely do think that Common Core should not be implemented as it is, but I have serious problems with the language in this bill and the language that does not appear in the bill, and I do want to thank you for allowing this hearing to be held so that the parents can voice their opinion.

But there has been a lot of confusion about Common Core and about how it came to be, and I think that is really a big issue. There is no direct authority of the federal government over education. It is simply not an enumerated power under the Constitution, but we do have federal laws having to deal with education.

How does that come to be? Well, because they hand out the money and say, if you do this, then we'll give you the money and that's how it comes to be.

But that's an agreement between the federal government and the state, and so the state could have said no to the No Child Left Behind or any of the federal money. It did not. So now we have this problem.

Going down the line, then, legally, the statutes are next in line. What authority does the State Board of Education have to adopt Common Core? What authority does the State Board have to compel anyone to have Common Core in their district?

I mean, if you look at the State Statutes as applicable, and by the way, this is in my testimony, in my written testimony and the fact sheet that I have included with that, but the applicable statute is 10-4 and 10-4 is the duties of the State Board of Education, and under that, right now, existing, the State Board of Education has the authority to quote prepare such courses of study and publish such curriculum guides as it determines necessary to assist school districts to carry out the duties prescribed by law.

In other words, the State Board of Education has absolutely no authority, generally speaking now, there is one exception, but generally speaking the State Board of Education has no statutory authority to compel local school districts to adopt Common Core and I don't think that most people understand that distinction in terms of administrators of the local district board of ed, members of the local district, and even perhaps sometimes when the language that is coming out in memos to the local district, that distinction is not always made.

And I think that's what has added to the confusion with this, because some districts or local boards may think they have to adopt the standards that were developed by the State Board of Education when in reality they don't.

I will sum up. A couple of other things. What is missing from the language in the bill, reference to the special ed people and how you accomplish that. We saw that earlier.

The other thing that is missing, any reference to studying the data collection that's involved in Common Core.

Any reference to discussing, having parents as an equal component in any consultant procedure or task force that you do study it. Those things need to be added in if you are going to have any bill like this adopted.

It's the language that is in there. One particular word, implement. You are giving --

REP. FLEISHMANN: If you could please summarize.

DEBORAH STEVENSON: I am. This last point. The reason I brought up the State Board of Education duties is because the first sentence in your bill says the State Board of Education may implement that curriculum that was in effect before. They didn't have that authority to implement that authority before and they would now under this bill.

So what I ask you to consider the language in the bill that is there, the language that isn't there and to actually take a halt on Common Core until all these issues are decided.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you. Are there comments or questions from members of the Committee? Representative Lavielle.

REP. LAVIELLE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I could ask a whole slew of questions. I won't. I want to address something that I don't believe, unless it was when I was voting in Appropriations, got brought up yet.

You mentioned data collection and a number of people have contacted me with concerns about that, I think because they don't know and are concerned about exactly what type of data is being collected, what is being done with it when it is collected in connection with this, who it's been collected by, what it concerns and what is done with it, under what authority?

So could you speak to that a bit, because I don't think we've addressed the subject?

DEBORAH STEVENSON: From the information that I see by some research done by some terrific families, my understanding is that the data collection portion of this whole procedure started, I believe, back in 2005 in Connecticut, where that portion was being implemented.

In addition, after that time, the federal Education Rights and Privacy Act FRAP laws, which did protect some of that data collection from going elsewhere was changed, and again, not by Congress, I don't believe. I think that was also by the Executive Branch and that is a real problem, the Executive Branch making policy decisions where they shouldn't.

The Legislative Branch should make those policy decisions about whether the data should be collected in the first place and how far it gets distributed. But that's now how it's been implemented, so that's a two-fold problem.

One, the Legislature should decide that rather than the Executive Branch and now we have this already existing and from my understanding it is allowed to be distributed to third parties that are not necessarily named specifically, but nonprofit groups or nonprofit agencies, for example, is one of the things I believe I've seen in that regulation or provision, allowing data collected, personal information, families and student data now can go to third party nonprofit organizations.

For what purpose? You know, where, how is it going to be, all these are questions that need to be studied or asked and the parents are equal partners in that discussion and that needs to be something that's agreed upon as a policy decision by the appropriate people.

REP. LAVIELLE: At the moment is it, is what is done with this data or what is allowed to be done with this data? Is it governed by regulation? Is it in statute? Is it on authority of the Board of Education? Who oversees that?

DEBORAH STEVENSON: I think there are other people here that have that data at their fingertips. That is not, the specifics of that I have not got before me at this moment, but I do not believe it was adopted by either Congress and again, federal law has no direct authority on the states.

So if there is anything that the state needs to deal with data collection, that should come through the Legislature and I don't believe that is the case.

I believe what happened is, we received a federal grant to put in a data collection procedure to begin the process to go through the pre-20 data collection procedure. That was grant money that was received by the State Board of Education, as I recall, and then it was being implemented by the State Board of Education or State Department of Education through that grant.

And again, that was not something that was discussed as a policy matter by the Legislature in being implemented by statute after a full discussion in public hearing.

REP. LAVIELLE: Just a final precision. Could you give us a couple of examples of the type of data that we're talking about?

DEBORAH STEVENSON: What political affiliation you are, what religion you are, runs the gamut.

REP. LAVIELLE: Thank you. I appreciate the clarification.


REP. LAVIELLE: Thank you very much. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you for those questions. And just to be clear. So there is a federal statute called FRAP, which I believe stands for something like federal --

DEBORAH STEVENSON: Education Right to Privacy Act.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Family education, there you go. So FRAP was enacted by Congress --


REP. FLEISHMANN: -- and ensures the privacy of student data, and that is the law of the United States of America and we abide by that law. Every superintendent here as well as the State Board of Education must abide by that law, so I just wanted to make sure that that was clear for the record.

Thank you very much for your time.

DEBORAH STEVENSON: Thank you, again. I would like to clarify that that is a constitutional issue. No direct involvement by Congress --

REP. FLEISHMANN: I'm sorry. It was not a question posed to you. Thank you for your time.

DEBORAH STEVENSON: Thank you. William Battle, to be followed by Rachel Murray.

WILLIAM BATTLE: Good evening. My name is William Battle. I'm from Torrington. Michelle Cook is my Representative. She's not here now. The Mayor of the City of Torrington knows I'm here as does the Chairman of the Board of Ed.

I would like just for a moment, I'm going to read you something from the newspaper since we talked about the achievement gap. This is in the Torrington Register Citizen.

Darnell Battle, son of (inaudible) Darlene Battle and William Battle, received the highest average in mathematics award in Torrington Middle School completing an honor geometry course at the high school. He also received the President's outstanding academic excellence award signed by President Obama and a certificate of application, appreciation in Italian for his Italian (inaudible) for two straight years of high honors. Darnell was the only middle school student to take courses at the high school where he will begin his full studies in August.

That's what my son did this year coming out of middle school.

Now, this was one of the first things he got in high school and it's listed at the bottom, social studies, and what it says, we have a time schedule for Christopher Columbus.

Ironically enough, it came up during Italian-American month in Connecticut and it came out at the same time that UNICO was having a conference at the Historical Society in Torrington.

And one of the things it says that Columbus was born in Genoa in 1451 and then it says Columbus traveled the seas as a pirate in 1470, which would have made him 19 years old. This is what the Common Core says in their social studies.

And many of the things that people have been talking about today and Mrs. Stotsky has said several of them, about possibly the Common Core's becoming politically correct in terms of how they're teaching our kids.

So my thing as the parent of an honor student, a high honor student who once got a perfect score in math on his CMTs also, when they're talking about the achievement gap, I do know one thing about it.

He's from Torrington and he can do it in Torrington. He would not be able to do it in Hartford, New Haven, or Bridgeport for different (inaudible).

Common Core will not fix all of our various and sundry municipalities. I do believe that one of the things that's happened is the Departments of Education no longer trust the municipality to do their business. They no longer trust the teachers. They no longer trust parents.

The irony of all of this is, I've said this for one reason. Darnell comes to me in my senior year. My first kids all graduated 30 years ago from high school and college. My grandson just graduated this year. So I have my children, my grandson and now my son, so I can make a differential evaluation of what kind of educational system we have.

I think for the good of us all, that we must take some time and investigate where the Common Core has taken us. I think it's time for us to say, stop it for a while. Let's take a look at it and see what it's really done.

The other thing if I might be, really grateful about it (inaudible).

REP. FLEISHMANN: We need, at this point we will need a summary as we had the bell go off.

WILLIAM BATTLE: I will, indeed. One of the things that you're going to find from parents that I know, is what Dr. Stotsky said about the relationship between the Common Core and Bill Gates Foundation and the fact that the Pearson conglomerate is doing all the textbooks and the assessments on line. That's a conflict of interest (inaudible) and I think we need to talk about it. That's where the push back to the parents I know is going to come from. Thank you.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you. Are there questions or comments? Representative Cook.

REP. COOK: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Good evening, Mr. Battle, how are you?

WILLIAM BATTLE: Good, Representative.

REP. COOK: Bill, I know you and I have discussed the conversation on several days with the college thing. You know we got problems.

When you talked to the superintendent in the local board of education, what is your sense that they feel about the Common Core?

WILLIAM BATTLE: I think their sense is that it is a top down situation coming from the feds and from the states and they have no choice. I think the members of the Board of Ed, and here's the thing about it, because you know that what I did is, I made sure that all the members of our board had all the information on the Common Core that was coming through our newspapers and letters to the editor and everything else.

So they do now know, but the bottom line is that I don't think anybody feels that they have any, there's no choice. It's being mandated. It's like of the rest of the mandates that come from Hartford that have nothing to do with Torrington.

But this one is a centralized educational mandate that cannot possibly, can you imagine, if this fails and it's very, very interesting to hear people talk about, oh it may take seven or eight years before we know, and as they said at a meeting.

Well, we'll know three years from now if it works in Torrington. My son is a freshman in high school. He doesn't have that three years for them to fail.

REP. COOK: With all of that and I understand that --


REP. COOK: -- because you know I have a tenth grader and an eighth grader and two that have graduated through the public schools.

The disconnect that I think that I have with this is, we talked to our superintendents and they have no issues with where we are, you know.


REP. COOK: And so, we're hearing two sides, and I think this is where the struggle is for us. We did not implement this. This has been going on now since 2010. It wasn't upon this Legislative body. We don't even get to vote on it, so I think there's an understanding disconnect.

But at the same time when we hear from superintendents and they're in support, and we hear from certain educators, not all educators, we hear from certain educators that there is no support --


REP. COOK: -- then you find us in a position of --

WILLIAM BATTLE: Well, I think, I understand what you're saying. I think that's unfortunate. That was like the thing that happened with Paul when Paul said that there were some teachers that had to be protected by a Freedom of Information clause and we said we already had it.

Now, it's very easy for us to be very cavalier and say that no teacher would be afraid of the administration if they ask her what do you think about it?

I do know that a couple of teachers did not retire, but resigned from the middle school based on it, and I do know that several teachers had a problem with one of the Common Core statutes, whether a teacher is not going to be a teacher but a facilitator and they had to tell their student, hey, I've never been a facilitator before.

I also know that in most of the professional training that they do, it's all done through now the Common Core, so the teacher cannot say no to it. And what happens if a teacher does not agree with the principles of the Common Core? Does he quit? What does he do? He has no choice.

This is the situation, and for the first time, and let me tell you something about the whole thing that I say about the Gates. Henry Ford, Rockefeller, all of the great industrialists, Carnegie Mellon, they have all taken part in educating the populous with their money, but not one of them has ever had the audacity to say, I will fund the entire United States if you do what I say. I think that is the most arrogant thing that I've ever heard in my life and I think it's one of the things that has to be addressed.

Now you may not want to address it. You may say, okay, but if you're looking at the mail that's coming into the papers in Litchfield County over the last couple of months from teachers and parents in Litchfield and Warren. They're all saying the same thing.

Where did this come from? Why wasn't it opened up to a dialogue with parents and teachers before it was implemented?

REP. COOK: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you. Any further questions? If not, thank you very much for your testimony.

WILLIAM BATTLE: You're quite welcome.

REP. FLEISHMANN: I just realized that next on the list was a Mr. Watson who is not here, but passed the time to Dr. Matt Conway, his colleague, so it's Dr. Matt Conway to be followed by Richard Murray. Welcome. I should say, welcome back.

MATT CONWAY: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Good evening, Chairman Fleischmann, Vice-Chairman Bye, members of the Education Committee. Today's conversation is about a set of common standards, and they are just that, standards, not curriculum.

They are standards that inform us when to introduce, teach and provide opportunity for our children to learn practice and master specific skills.

The curriculum and method by which we do this is largely up to the local, state and districts to determine. A misunderstanding that somehow the content that teachers used is written into the standards needs to be clarified so everyone can form an opinion having all the correct information and an understanding of what we are really talking about.

In everything we do we set standards, in sports, in work, in our daily lives. We live by sets of standards, things to aspire to, things to achieve, things to inform us what we should be working toward.

How we go about learning working toward and practicing skills that will help us meet those standards is up to a coach, a parent, a boss, ourselves, or a teacher.

In my testimony I've also included several images to illustrate both real misconceptions and the standards and communications, the standards and the commonalities between the new and the old standards.

Too many of our students in many districts experience high, transient populations. Research tells us transition is difficult enough and is the reason many students fall behind. Without national standards, these students will have an even more difficult time adjusting and transitioning to a new school.

The conversation we should really be having today is how we can best support teachers to help them align their curriculum to the standards so they are teaching skills in the same sequence and to the same level of understanding as the new standards suggest.

This would be a much better conversation for our teachers and students. Invite them to the table to have a discussion about support and professional development that makes sense. Think of an athlete or a musician. They may be great at their sport or playing an instrument, but if you change the play book or ask them to play a different piece of music they may need time to learn the new play book or musical piece before they can excel in a field or perform before an audience.

We have to have the capacity and human capital to provide the professional development in the same way we expect our teachers to teach our children.

If those providing the professional development are just figuring it out and practicing it for the first time themselves, how can we expect them to teach or coach others with confidence and success?

Implementation will take time, but abandoning the standards or placing a moratorium on implementation is the wrong decision. The only way we can get better every day is to practice every day.

When we first write legislation, we rarely get it right the first time. But we continue to listen to a growing group of stakeholders who are practicing in the field to get it right. Sometimes it could take years before we get perfect legislation, but if we just abandon it in the beginning, we would never affect change.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Dr. Conway, if you could please wrap up.

MATT CONWAY: You can't get better every day if you stop practicing and the standards today represent good, effective teaching strategies we have been using for years. Some of my illustrations will demonstrate that for you. If you have any questions for me at all, I'd be happy to answer.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you. Just a quick question because your testimony with its illustrations is helpful in addressing some issues that have been brought forward by students and others during the day.

So there was a young man who raised the concern that for his younger brother he had some homework that he had done where there were answers and he hadn't shown and he didn't get credit, and he posited that if his brother had shown his work and even gotten the answers wrong he would have gotten credit.

Just wondering, since you've given us a diagram that shows how multiplication could be done on a piece of good paper, if you could talk about what's required in regard to showing your work versus coming out with the right answer.

MATT CONWAY: The idea of showing your work, and this is somewhat of a misconception, so thank you for the question, is not about Common Core. Just as the image that you have in front of you in one of the images, it shows a traditional method of doing, of multiplying decimals, 1.5 times .5 and the parent who sent this to me in an e-mail, you know, drew this, took a picture of the image from his child's homework but then wrote on it, traditional, meaning the method by which I, myself and most people in this room may have learned, and then wrote the word Common Core next to the image in which the child has to now color in blocks on a grid that the child has drawn to show what does it represent if you have, in a graph, how to represent that.

And the misconception is, and I responded back to him, and he's a very involved parent, by the way, love his questions that I get and love responding to questions like this to any parents.

But the response back was, you know, while he may have a difficult time, with his child having to use visual representation so that we definitely know they understand the reasoning behind one and a half times .5, that this has been going on for decades, that this is not Common Core, as he referred to it in his e-mail, and I'll read, I'm not sure how shading in blocks and counting and teaching the basics of multiplication.

In my mind, this moves away from the basics, does not teach or reinforce multiplication process, nor does it explain decimal point placement. But this is the same way we've been teaching this exact method of multiplying decimals for decades.

So the actual textbook that this was taken out of for the child to do the homework is pre-Common Core, and it's a misconception.

The next images illustrate that as well, Chairman in figure 2.3 and 2.4. It lists both the units and concepts within a fifth grade math class, which is what this e-mail was about and the units of today for the new Common Core standards.

And you'll see, and I've highlighted just one to show you the commonalities, but there's many common units that are taught within the new state standards that were taught within the old. What we have done is removed nine units from the fifth grade math and just placed them into other grade levels so that we can get deeper, a deeper understanding of eight units that we want to do this to master, or would like them to demonstrate mastery at the fifth grade level to best prepare them for the next grade level.

So something like computation of whole numbers and decimals has always existed. The visual representation that students have to show in showing your work, how you got the answer, has always existed pre-Common Core, and this is just an illustration of that.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you. That was a powerful illustration of illustrations. Are there other questions? Senator Bye to be followed by Representative Ackert, to be followed by (inaudible).

SENATOR BYE: Thank you so much, Matt, if I may call you Matt for coming before us.


SENATOR BYE: And I hope you don't mind because, and I know you to be a very thoughtful educator and I have some concerns and I'd like to run them by you.


SENATOR BYE: I've seen some real positive things with the Common Core, the critical thinking, the collaboration, the open-ended questions, you know, kids getting out of their seats and I've seen some of the shifts in our district that have been positive.

So I want to start by appreciating the positive part. You talked a lot about standards and how Common Core is a set of standards and then districts are working on instructional practices that go into reach those standards, and I think you said and others keep saying, you know, we all have the standards everywhere in our lives, and there are.

My question to you is the stakes, people I think the challenge with the environment we've created doing all these things at the same time, the Smarter Balance assessment, the future eval, trying them all in the process years, has built up this tension in our state and I think for good reason.

Because I find there are groups out there what's in their self interest to say our schools are failing. They want to say our public schools are failing, so you need us to come to the rescue, and so when we talk about a new set of standards and testing students on the new set of standards, I think it makes a lot of people very nervous, that when we take this test if we don't do well, are we handing these folks this whole tool to say, like in New York, only 30 percent of our kids are ready, our schools are failing, you know.

My kids, I've got three kids in college. Got the most incredible education in the public schools and I see some of their teachers who were the best teachers scared to death. Teachers of the Year saying, this is too much.


SENATOR BYE: So how do we, how do we balance that fear about how these standards might be used against our current education system, with all the good that you talked about that I think they can bring. You know, I do think there's some reason for the fear that's justified, but I just want to get your response to that.

MATT CONWAY: Sure, Senator. One, I agree with everything you actually just said. There is a great amount of fear and for good reason, and again, district to district is where you can have an opportunity to create that balance.

If you, and I know this Committee has spent a great deal of time on it over the past months, but from its initiation, the state has provided districts with flexibility, and I've tried, I've tried to separate Common Core, SBAC and the SEED, and it's very difficult.

But I have tried to reassure, at least in my small district, the separation between the three and the enormous work to try and do all three at once and the anxiety it will create.

And let's not forget about all those other things in a district that you want to roll out for children and families that you have to then say can we do that along with everything else that we have on our plate this year, next year, the year after and try and do it in a very careful way that doesn't cause even greater anxiety.

So I think a lot of it is about communication, is looking at how the original plan was originally put together. So when you look back in 11-12 and how standards were to begin to be rolled out and 10-11, it wasn't a one-year process. It was a three to four-year process introducing additional standards each year.

So you start off with five, you add a couple the next year, a couple the year after that. It's not the way it happened in Connecticut. I think it, really, everybody seemed to, it was like everybody woke up this year and faced having to roll out standards.

But if you look at the documents that are available on the site and I did include one in 2.4, it will illustrate that four-year roll out that didn't start when it should have started, so that you weren't, we weren't in a perfect storm of trying to roll out all three in the same year. But we're here now.

So the correction, I think would be to reduce the anxiety on teachers in that the expectation that you're going to be able to adjust curriculum to teach to the standards, to be measured on an SBAC test that for this year is not measuring student performance. It's simply measuring our ability as districts with technology and giving students an opportunity to practice that technology. We will not get individual student results on this test this year.

So that anxiety hopefully you can eliminate because it can't be tied to a SEED or to an evaluation. So it's a lower stakes. The teachers have to understand that.

SENATOR BYE: So are you saying the results this year can't be used to say only 40 percent of Connecticut public school students passed this test? Things are terrible.

MATT CONWAY: It could be used on a state level. We're waiting for information on a district level, but it will not provide us information on a student level.

So we won't be measuring students or teachers teaching to their students based upon the Common Core standards with the SBAC this year. We will be measuring the technology and we may get an overall district to district or statewide result in terms of how we perform against other states that rolled it out as well.

SENATOR BYE: All right. I took way too much time, Mr. Chair.

MATT CONWAY: I'm sorry.

SENATOR BYE: But I appreciate your answers. It really helped me.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you. Representative Davis.

REP. DAVIS: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Dr. Conway, pleasure to see you this evening.

MATT CONWAY: Good evening, Representative, good to see you as well.

REP. DAVIS: Just, we've heard some horror stories this evening, or this afternoon, as we've had some testimony. The thing that has concerned me is the implementation across the board with, particularly at the high school level where we have students that are being asked to learn new material without the background that they should have had, had they had this right along as they were coming up through the grades.

We've heard about districts that have no curriculum, that are teaching without textbooks and they're teaching Common Core, which I don't understand how they're doing, but we've heard that from some people.

What can we do to work particularly with our high school students to assist them in adjusting to the Common Core standards without the background that they should have had, had they gone through the system up to the high school level?

MATT CONWAY: Sure. I think the first step that would have to take place and is in some districts, is helping the teachers practice what you want them working with the students in the classroom.

Once the teachers have an understanding or, for example, what student-to-student discourse looks like, and an understanding of how do I get students to start practicing that in my classroom, then we can begin rolling that out to actual students practicing student-to-student discourse and observing it as administrators in classrooms.

There's no question there's a gap there, and that, but we have to continue moving forward with professional development, with coaching, and the opportunity to practice, not be evaluated on, but practice the skills that we're asking people to do.

REP. DAVIS: And just as a follow up. We've heard an awful lot of people indicate that the Common Core doesn't go far enough. As far as you understand it and what you're doing in your school district, is it not the task of the local school district to develop curricula to address areas of science content and math areas that are not part of the Common Core?

MATT CONWAY: Yeah, Common Core is again, a minimum set of standards, so any district can go beyond that minimum set of standards, though they are a rigorous set of standards.

But you can certainly, as a local district, you do develop that curriculum, but you can certainly go beyond the minimum standards that are set.

REP. DAVIS: Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Representative Ackert.

REP. ACKERT: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you, Dr. Conway for your testimony. You mentioned a couple of things and I think for some districts, it sounds like your district that they've done a very good job of taking hold and taking ownership of it.

You also mentioned that you know, for those that are just jumping on board now, that they're behind the eight ball, you know. They're trying to get their anxiety, I can go on for a number of things and separating, but the curriculum development component in some districts aren't ready. Some aren't teaching to Smarter Balance assessment consortium.

We have a hundred and some odd different school districts creating their own curriculum, some shared in collaboration, so I think we're still going to have that town-to-town disparity, unfortunately. Granted we're going to meet to our standards, but some may go beyond those standards and push the limit a little bit.

So I think we've still got a, you know, a situation where we haven't changed that much. (Inaudible) we're going to go to the Common Core standards.

A quick question for you in terms of, you said here and many places, we don't get it right the first time, and maybe that's what this piece of legislation is. Maybe it is a draft at this point that we can tweak, that we can take out some of the things that have bothered people about moratorium maybe, and say maybe it's a three-year implementation.

May we say let's not, for those that are already invested, that we make sure that they get their dollars, things like that.

So your comments on that would be interesting to myself.

MATT CONWAY: Sure, and when I referred to, we don't get it perfect the first time, we don't stop working on that legislation. We bring it back up year after year, whether even if we pass the bill in one year, we currently, you know, are looking at bills this year that passed previous years to amend them to get it right, to listen to stakeholders, all stakeholders, parents, teachers, children until we get it right, and it's an evolving text.

So even with our curriculum it evolves. With our standards, as you've just seen, they evolve, but it's not, the point was that we shouldn't stop practicing. We shouldn't stop working with it. We shouldn't stop asking questions about it until we get it perfect, and if we get it perfect you keep asking questions.

You don't get better to stop getting better. You try to get better every single day.

REP. DAVIS: Thank you, and a closing comment. I just, when I hear our students are practicing something in terms of the standardized testing, I have concerns with that, but thank you for your testimony and thank you, Mr. Chairman.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you. Any other questions? If not, thank you, Dr. Conway for your time and your testimony.

MATT CONWAY: Thank you very much.

REP. FLEISHMANN: We go to Richard Murray to be followed by Judith Degraffenried. Welcome.

ROBERT MITCHELL: Representative Fleischmann, Senator Bye and members of the Education Committee. I'm not Richard Murray. I'm pinch-hitting for him. He had to go to a school board meeting.

REP. FLEISHMANN: For the record, if you could give your name and your title.

ROBERT MITCHELL: I'm Robert Mitchell. I'm on the Montville Board of Education. I'm also the CABE Vice-President for Government Relations, so that's why I'm pinch-hitting today.

You have Richard's and CABE's testimony. I'm just going to be supplying a little bit of a face, a Montville face in this case, to it.

In Montville, we are fully implemented with Common Core. We've been teaching it for two years. We are engaged with it. We did all the work. I brought, our school board brought teachers in over the last three summers to write curriculum in line with the standards.

We've done the professional development. We've bought the books. We're there. We're done. So a moratorium, really, I'm not sure how that's going to affect us because we're already there. We're doing it.

What I'm worried about is backing off of it, and I've already invested three years of hard work in our district in coming up with something else, and I have to start all over again. That is my fear.

So you've got the testimony. Any questions that I can answer I'd be pleased to, keeping n mind I am pinch-hitting.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you. Well, you're a good pinch-hitter. You did a nice, concise job of making a point and I appreciate not only your testimony, but CABE taking a clear position on this major issue today.

Are there questions or comments from members of the Committee? Representative Ackert.

REP. ACKERT: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you for your testimony. I truly appreciate it and, so you've been doing the Common Core.

Did you do the, have you implemented any of the Smarter Balance Assessment Consortium testing prior to this year?


REP. ACKERT: Okay, so you don't have the results of the testing consortium, okay. And also, great job, you know, for jumping on board and kept rolling right away. Some of them are catching up to you about three years behind. So thank you for your testimony. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Other questions from members of the Committee? Representative Kokoruda.

REP. KOKORUDA: Thank you, Mr. Chairman and I know you're pinch-hitting so you might not have this answer, but with your CABE hat.

Many of us were invited to our area CABE meetings with all our superintendents and all, and to tell you the truth, the one I attended, I believe in Deep River, there was a lot of concern. There was a lot of angst about how this is rolling out and everything.

With your CABE hat on, what are the conversations?

ROBERT MITCHELL: I actually hosted at Montville the Area 9 CABE legislative breakfast. The big items that came out of that where the superintendents were in attendance was, they were really worried about the assessment, okay, how, one superintendent actually made the statement that his principals are becoming stenographers.

Again, it moves from district to district on that, but that was the, we had everybody's, in Area 9 basically has bought in. We're doing the Common Core work. The biggest thing was the assessment of the teachers, and that's where the teachers are having, you know, their heartache, and I can understand that.

Tying a score on an unproven test, yes. The Common Core is a separate thing and that was the issue was brought. We separated it in the breakfast saying, the Common Core is one thing. Smarter Balance testing is another thing and the SEED or however you're doing your evaluation is another thing.

Montville actually got a waiver. We did our own SEED. We did not adopt the state SEED model. We did our own, and it's been approved by the department and we have implemented that this year, but we brought our teachers union and our teachers into the process of creating that teacher evaluation.

Lead teachers were trained to actually help do the evaluation, so we moved along in that area. We didn't have as much push back as some of the other districts in our area.

REP. KOKORUDA: Yes, and I understand what you did in Montville and that's great. But with the CABE, when you hear that your superintendents in these legislative breakfasts are concerned about the assessment, whatever, CABE has been a real leader with pushing for these reforms, all of them.

So what is CABE doing to really take care of that whole concern with, that are hearing from their board, because I talked to my board of ed members in my town and there are all those concerns.

So what is CABE as an organization doing to address that?

ROBERT MITCHELL: I will have to get back to you with the exact answer on that, because I don't have, Richard's testimony wasn't in front of me.

What I personally look at is that there's nothing wrong with evaluations. It's how you use it. In Montville we adopted the Moran Rozzano model and we went ahead and bought the system. Part of that is not only as an evaluation but is also a support, so there is online support for, if a teacher is having a weak area.

Identifying and improving good teaching is never wrong. I am really, don't want to use those evaluations as a punitive hammer over the teachers. That's not the way we should do it in the family area that a school district should be feeling like. So using it as a hammer is not good.

Using it to improve instruction is good.

REP. KOKORUDA: And just finally, I just wanted to tell you, my board members in one of my district, several of my board of education members took the test, and I have to report they both, the two that I heard about both failed it, and one is a young, retired, very successful businessman, very bright. He failed a fifth grade test, math test, and the reason he did was not that he didn't know the answers. He just didn't know how to take the test. He didn't know how to maneuver. This is a 40 something year old man.

And then the other one, I believe is an engineer, works with algebra with his children and he said to me on Monday night, he goes, I worked with my kids math forever. He said, I'm doing it all the time. He goes, I flunked the twelfth grade math test.

So you know, obviously, there is, that just adds to the angst, but even our board members, members of CABE are having even issues with SBAC to say the least.

ROBERT MITCHELL: Yes. I won't tell you what I did when I took the sixth grade test, but yes, it is a difficult test and I tell anybody that is asking about it and why we are doing a lot of this professional development work that we're doing, you just go up to the Smarter Balance site and take one of the tests. They are eye-opening. That's the standards we're teaching to in the Common Core.

REP. KOKORUDA: Thank you for pinch-hitting. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you. Any other questions? If not, thank you very much for your testimony. You seem to have filled the Committee back up.

Judith Degraffenried, I'm sorry if I'm getting the last name --

A VOICE: (Inaudible).

REP. FLEISHMANN: Okay. So then we go to Jonathan Hardy, to be followed by Paul Diego-Holzer.

JONATHAN HARDY: Good after, evening. Good evening. It's been a long day. Believe it or not it's my birthday and I still stayed here all day.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Happy birthday.

JONATHAN HARDY: But some issues are really worth, you know, foregoing a birthday party. I've had 42, this is my 43rd. I think some things are a little bit more important.

I'm opposed to these Common Core standards. Therefore, I support H.B. 5078. I apologize for not having a written testimony because I didn't anticipate that I was going to be here.

But today, all day I started hearing people's testimony and I started thinking about my education in this city because I grew up ten blocks away. And then I started thinking about my son's education and at the time I was also, for one year I taught in Hartford.

And looking at the difference, I keep seeing us jumping from standard designed out of state, to another standard designed out of state to another standard. Why are we going to keep repeating the same thing that doesn't work?

I mean, maybe it's time to start looking at the talent that we have locally. My kid's in Glastonbury, and I know it would still affect Hartford, it's a difference in the way they do things, and he's succeeding very well. He was at risk in Hartford. Now he's a B student, an athlete and he's really doing very well.

I've been hearing a lot especially recently about standards, you know, and it kind of reminded me of a funny comedy sketch I just saw recently on TV.

A guy goes to a dating website and it's called Great Expectations and his date didn't think he was too hot. Next date didn't think he was too hot, so it shows him at another dating website and it's called Lowered Expectations.

Why are we going to do the same thing to our children? You know, if these standards are not working, why do we want to give them lowered expectations?

You've heard a lot of testimony today about the beauty of Common Core. That's only because you've heard a lot of the top heavy people that are pushing it that aren't the boots on the ground.

My friends that I worked with when I taught in Hartford are afraid to talk about this because they fear retaliation from various organizations that they have to belong to.

You know, the other one, I wasn't going to bring this up, someone else said earlier about the standards about not teaching cursive handwriting and doing typing and everything like that.

I have two six-year-old twin nephews I take care of quite a bit. My sister's a single mother. I wanted to take them and my son to Washington, D. C. because I truly love what makes this country great. Not teaching them cursive? Do we want kids looking at the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, the Constitution, written in English, but because it's in cursive have them thinking it's hieroglyphics in a foreign language? This is absolutely crazy.

I'll wrap it up. With the track record we have of implementing so many failed standards, I would just really like to think that in the example of my son and the issues that he had in Hartford, instead of reaching to so many standards outside of the state, why not go ten miles to the southwest and see what's doing so good in Glastonbury, which by the way spends a lot less per child on average for their education than we did here in Hartford, you know.

And it reminds me of the parable of the patient that told his doc, it hurts when I do this. Doctor says, well don't do this.

We've heard some kids that corrected superintendents of schools today about algebraic equations and numeric equations. It hurts when you do that. Don't do it.

Take a look and maybe think of some better, tighter standards instead of so many loose standards we're hearing about the Common Core and keep it at the local level.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you for that eloquent testimony on your birthday.


REP. FLEISHMANN: No greater gift hath the man given than his whole day to wait to give testimony on something on his birthday. Are there questions from members of the Committee? If not, I say thank you and go enjoy your birthday. You could still have a party. Paul Diego-Holzer, to be followed by Wanda Oprica.

PAUL DIEGO-HOLZER: Good evening. Very happy to be here. Just tell you who I am first, because I think that's probably why you're wondering. When everyone comes up to give testimony, you know, what's the agenda?

I'm a teacher by trade. I have the good fortune of running a small, nonprofit education advocacy group called Achieve Hartford, make up of a teacher, two parents, a former journalist, a former entrepreneur so we like to think that, you know, as an education advocacy group we're actually going after things that impact teaching and learning and not one ideology or another. We kind of pride ourselves in that.

But I'm here today to support, unequivocally the continued implementation of Common Core and to oppose the bill, but I want to start my testimony by saying that so much of what I've heard tonight and what I hear playing out regionally is really, I think, less of a reflection of how people feel about the standards and more of a reflection of how people feel about how things get implemented in the state.

I think the average teacher in a strong school in a strong district is excited about the standards. It's probably two years deep and already implementing them. It has an incredible voice in how they get rolled out, has already seen the impact of teaching toward higher standards and having a little bit more flexibility, a little bit more creativity in a curriculum.

You know, is not really worried about the high stakes tests coming down the pike and how that's going to impact their evaluation.

And so what I really urge folks around the table tonight and listening, is to think about you know, what are the ways in which you as Legislators and other in the room in their own districts, teachers, parents, everyone really, what levers can we pull collectively to make this work when we know that fundamentally it's a good idea.

If folks have a real issue, and I know many do with how things are getting rolled out, I mean, and anyone who wants just to come up here and support that you should roll out a new teacher evaluation system based upon high stakes test being factored into performance and then also change the standards and curriculum that teachers are working with at the same time, I think that would be a really rough debate for those people to have.

So how do we address those core issues without slowing down something that is already proving to be somewhat positive in those districts that do have their act together?

Why push it all, though? So, I care about Hartford, right. I do have kids. They're in West Hartford. I'd like to think that most teachers are pretty excited about Common Core in West Hartford, too, all right?

But Hartford? You know, this is the best chance that we've had in a long time to take a really honest look and even have an honest conversation about how our kids can compete.

So for me, this is a great opportunity.

And the last thing I'm going to say about that is that, you know, if we want to address the fear around high stakes testing, then let's make 2015 the second year of a pilot year, and if you want to for that assessment, let's commit to doing that in another bill or however that needs to get done and if we want to really talk about supporting teachers, which is what the State Department of Education really should be all about, making sure that on the ground the teaching and learning is at the grand year level getting better, then let's find a way to make sure that oversight over what that department is doing, right, is actually reaching the ground teachers, kids, their families, without slowing down something that I think many of us know is just a good idea.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you for that testimony, and just one point I'd like to mention. You suggest the idea of 2015 essentially being another test year and my understanding of what has been put forward by the Governor and then the Performance Evaluation Advisory Council is that that is how it's going to play out, both this year and next year the new Smarter Balance assessments, they will be used but they will not have implications for individual students or teacher evaluations, so it is essentially (inaudible).

Are there comments or questions? Representative Ackert.

REP. ACKERT: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Paul, thank you for your advocacy on you school, and you are the administrator or superintendent?

PAUL DIEGO-HOLZER: The Executive Director of the nonprofit known as Achieve Hartford.

REP. ACKERT: Okay, thank you. And you started implementing years ago the Common Core State Standards.

You made a comment, though, about the success of it and I guess since the districts I've talked to, none of them have tested the success of it, so your Achieve Hartford has probably done that testing, the Smarter Balance Assessment Consortium to meet the Common Core State Standards and have results?

PAUL DIEGO-HOLZER: So, I don't do any of the testing. We are 100 percent independent from the school district, but the Hartford public school district was one of the first districts to really move toward the Common Core standards, even before they were adopted by the State of Connecticut, so they've been using the NWAA math testing for a full two years now.

When I look at the success, it's not about, you know, they don't have more than two years to talk about, wow, you know, as a result of implementing new assessments the kids are smarter.

But what they do talk about is the successful roll out when a district is very mindful of how they do that and then how you can build support around that work.

So if the standards do what folks say they should do, right, and we kind of believe that mostly because there are some great educators involved in creating them nationwide, then it's all about making sure the implementation is good and letting new curriculum and new standards do the work.

REP. ACKERT: Great. Thank you for that clarification. I truly appreciate that, because one of the things that we've struggled with is the implementation of the process, and where some have done a very good job and many that haven't had a chance to speak here are, you know, struggling with that component of it and we look forward to getting them up and getting caught up to the others. So thank you for your testimony. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you. Senator Boucher.

SENATOR BOUCHER: Thank you, mister, thank you for testifying. I was really struck by some of the things that you said, particularly, and it is wonderful what you're doing on the part of advocating for our Hartford school system. It's really very important.

But you did say that you had implemented the Common Core in the Hartford schools much earlier than anywhere else, even before it had come to the State of Connecticut.

And one of the nagging questions that we have is, this has not been field tested. It hasn't had a control group testing to see if, in fact, we're producing a better outcome than what we currently have.


SENATOR BOUCHER: And so, if you have been doing that for quite some time, then those students were taking the Connecticut mastery I presume at the same time, because the Smarter Balance hadn't really come to fore.

PAUL DIEGO-HOLZER: That's right.

SENATOR BOUCHER: So you know, the bottom line is, all of this change should be producing a much better outcome, better learning, and that is what I'd love to hear you tell me a little bit more about what the results were for you in the Hartford area.

PAUL DIEGO-HOLZER: Yeah, and again, I just want to make sure everyone knows I'm not speaking for the Hartford public schools.

You know, so in the schools that were in certain grades, because they did a few grades at a time. In the grades that they were able to roll out NWAA math testing, right, which is just one of many batteries that were used more formatively than the CMT used more summatively, they talked about you know, not really being able to correlate, right.

These kids were, you know, being exposed to more of a Common Core curricula using this kind of SBAC proxy test and how their performance changed under CMT, so I don't know whether or not this is like having a positive impact on how they're testing on the CMT.

I tend not to, while we focus so much on the high stakes test and how we report kids doing, I don't know, to be quite honest, but I do think that it should be someone's job to figure that out, right, and that there are three districts that have been implementing this 2010 and have like a certain battery of kids in a control group. It would be wonderful to see that come to light.

SENATOR BOUCHER: Well thank you for that response. You're absolutely right. Someone should have the responsibility of figuring that out.

PAUL DIEGO-HOLZER: Especially you have certain districts.

SENATOR BOUCHER: This is so big, that's right, it's so big that such a big experiment, that this should have been at the forefront of making sure that it's measurable that we can do that, and I hope you're here to hear some of the other experts --


SENATOR BOUCHER: -- and some that were a part of the actual validation team raise some serious concerns about a big question of, is this really higher standards in fact and will we do better at the end of the day.

And what we heard was that K-5 looked pretty darned good, but once you get to the higher grades and high school level, it may not be as rigorous as maybe some of the programs we now have.

But I think you raised a very good point. I hope that that's something we'd consider, that in fact, there should absolutely be, an absolute requirement to make sure that what is implemented actually is measurable, that we actually are moving our students forward, because that's the whole intent of this exercise.

It shouldn't be about just the next new thing and someone making a lot of commercial, you know, benefit, or reaping commercial benefit from it.

PAUL DIEGO-HOLZER: I'm not sure who those people are that are going to make the benefit from that but I think in general, I agree with you.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you. And I'd just like to remind Committee members who are here to ask questions of the public. Other questions of this witness? If not, thank you very much for your testimony and your time.

Wanda Oprica. Is she still here? To be followed by Erin McGurk.

WANDA OPRICA: Good evening. My name is Wanda Oprica and I am a resident of Avon. I am a librarian at a public library, a graduate of Vassar College and have a master's degree from Southern in library science. I am also a parent of five children, four of which are currently in the public school system.

I am an informed citizen and today speak to you regarding H.B. 5078. I suggest that the implementation of the Common Core State Standards in Connecticut be permanently delayed. Connecticut should opt out of the Common Core.

Our school system is an early indicator that the Common Core is not effective for children's development. At a recent PTO meeting discussing the Common Core, many parents felt that their children were either bored, frustrated, confused, or a combination of all three.

The Common Core is not properly aligned with child development or the variations within that development. The Common Core's efficacy was never tested and was not designed by educators. Our children are being used as guinea pigs.

We were in a school system that was proven to be working through numerous distinctions, high scores, college readiness and college acceptance rates. Instead of modeling the Common Core after school districts, after, excuse me, after school systems like ours or other high performing school districts, the standards have been lowered. Now all schools have the same lower standards.

Wouldn't it be better to at the very least bring the standards up to those of high performing school districts or states, fix those schools that are broken? Do not break all the schools.

Control needs to go back to the local school system so that they can address the needs of local communities and the individual learners. The educational freedom of communities needs to be intact so that the educators, teachers and parents have a say in how their children learn allowing for the needs of the children to best be served.

It is our responsibility to teach our children to their fullest potential and achieve to their highest level. There is no incentive in the Common Core to teach beyond standards. This limits children in their learning, development, and ultimately their success.

Lowering the level of those students at the top is not an acceptable way to close the achievement gap as it doesn't truly help those in need. One approach does not fit all, thus especially children at both ends of the spectrum suffer under the Common Core standards.

There are clearly different types of learners. Learners learn at different paces in diverse ways and are able to master varying amounts of material. Standards need to accommodate every type of learner and maximize each child's potential.

In order for children to reach their success, standards need to be flexible and accommodating, not rigid as are the Common Core standards.

The Common core standards stand in opposition to the needs of our children. To quote Katharine Beals, a lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education and an adjunct professor at the Drexel University School of Education, the purported goal of the Common Core is success for all students, but success for all requires openness toward cognitive diversity and isn't so easily standardized.

Connecticut must opt out of the Common Core standards. Thank you for your time and your consideration on this extremely important matter.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you for your very well thought out, well delivered testimony and well timed as well. Are there questions from members of the Committee? If not, we thank you very much.

WANDA OPRICA: Thank you.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Erin McGurk, if Erin is still here? If not, the next name on the list is John Phillips.

JOHN PHILLIPS: Thank you, Representative Fleischmann, thank you, Senator Bye. I will say, although I was frustrated at times waiting back there for the last eight or nine hours, I will say tomorrow morning the students in which I teach will be happy that their tests will hopefully be back about a week earlier, so of course, there's nothing like five or six hours to have to correct a couple of tests out there, so they will get your thanks for that.

My name is John Phillips. I am from the City of Hartford and I teach at Cromwell High School as a sophomore and junior social studies teacher, and today what I'd like to do just in the brief time that I'm given is just look at pretty much what I see as the problems, the student problem and the teacher problem.

First, students. One of my greatest concerns that I have right now as I teach teenagers is that for whatever the case is, their culture values entertainment more than intelligence, that we as a society, and I take total blame for this, have not told them the importance of valuing education. To me, that is the root, the Common Core, some of the things that come off of that are branches, but the major root is to get these kids to understand that it's education, not entertainment that's going to put them forward.

If that foundation is built, then the other branches will start to make sense. There will be more people represented here in front of me and behind me that can come to some type of compromise, but that is the foundation that education, not entertainment must be the center of these kids' lives, and that's my job as a teacher, that's the parents' jobs, and yes, it is the political officials' job as well.

As far as teachers go, I think one thing that was a little unfortunate in my first couple of years is to understand that inside the classroom we are only given so much power.

Now, in other parts of life, coaches are able to kick kids off their team for being disrespectful. Businesses can fire employees for making derogatory comments. But when it comes down to the classroom many times, teachers, including myself, feel absolutely powerless because we want to engage students but all it takes is about one of two people in that classroom to dictate policy for everyone else.

And so I'd like to finish with that. First, the student problem, we must focus on the foundation which is education not entertainment in these kids' lives.

And the second is the power that we're able to give and trust, that teachers are able to use in the classroom.

Common Core is an idea I don't anything against, but it's the implementation that worries many teachers not only at Cromwell, but I believe around the state as well. Thank you for my time.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you for your testimony and for your service to students. Questions? Representative Ackert.

REP. ACKERT: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and John, thanks for your patience today and your support of your students.

You can't take total blame, by the way. I think we all are kept in a group together in a little bit of that blame, so it's not all on you. Sometimes we feel that way on things.

But how has Cromwell rolled out this process and how long have your colleagues worked with the Common Core State Standards, and where is your school system at, or your school at, at this time.

JOHN PHILLIPS: Okay, a great question. Earlier this year, this fall is where we started really getting the wheels turning. One of the things that we were able to do was obviously through PLCs, for example on a Thursday afternoon. Certain departments would be able to get together and discuss, not just in the specific case for history focusing on content, but skill. So now, as the years go on, one of the emphasis is not just having to memorize certain dates, certain people, certain policies, but have the kids really start to understand you know, why it is that this person did what he did. So, not just focus our assessments on content, but specifically focus on skills.

The other thing that our superintendent, Dr. Talty has pushed forward pretty successfully so far is the Freshman Academy, and the Freshman Academy is a group which will be starting out new this fall with 2014 and I believe the Freshman Academy does tie some of its curriculum with the standards placed on Common Core, so we are quite young. We are doing the SBACs this year.

Last year was a pilot year that Cromwell tried out and so we'll just have to see where it goes from there.

REP. ACKERT: Great. Thank you for your testimony. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you, Representative Ackert. Representative Cook to be followed by Representative Lavielle.

REP. COOK: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Thank you very much for your testimony and having the patience to deal with wonderful teenagers. There's two in my house. I understand the frustration.

My question for you is this. We've heard over the last several hours that there's angst and anxiety and frustration amongst our students.

Do you see that? Do your students express their frustrations and concerns or is what you see the typical, high school frustration and concern of growth and change and they don't want to be in school anyway kind of thing. Could you explain what some of your students have expressed?

JOHN PHILLIPS: I think there's kids in my room that want to know the end means. Why are we doing this? Is it just for a job? Is it to receive an education? Is it for more knowledgeable? Is knowledge really power?

I think that they are students who want to know the end game, and I think the biggest thing as a history teacher that I can say is, how can we apply something that we learned to real life scenarios?

So for example, why should we learn about World War I? Well, we are at the 100th anniversary, you know. Imperialism, industrialization was very high. Gee, in Ukraine today, gee, imperialism, industrialization, 100 years from now, it's able to take history and apply it to current events, which is something I think that a teacher can do. Students can do a better job connecting.

So take for example in history, things that happened in the past, connect them with a future and now all of a sudden to the students it's relevant and they can see the end game and they can see maybe how they can use this.

REP. COOK; But do you find that before the standards have been put out, you know 2010 and you know where we were going for the last four years, do you find that the students have changed in any way, shape or form?

I mean, when we were in high school we had the same conversation, you know. You want to know how it connects. Why am I learning geometry and all of that?

I don't think, from what I can understand the set of standards that we are talking about have not changed that anxiety. I think that's just what you deal with in high school.

And we've heard that there's been people that have said the frustration and the anxiety of strictly the Common Core standards. That's kind of what I'm looking at.

JOHN PHILLIPS: I would say no. The quick answer to this, I am only a two-year teacher at Cromwell High School. In the two years that I've been at Cromwell High School I haven't seen a tremendous change from the fall of 2012 to now approaching the spring of 2014.

REP. COOK: Thank you. Thank you very much.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you. Representative Lavielle.

REP. LAVIELLE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Good evening. Before I say anything, I wanted to let you know that Representative Carpino, who represents Cromwell who has been sitting next to me all day --


REP. LAVIELLE: -- wanted to be sure that you knew that she had to pick up her very, very young children, but she's watching on television.

JOHN PHILLIPS: Okay, great.

REP. LAVIELLE: So, in any event, you made a couple of very interesting observations about, one about students, one about teachers. You talked about how there is an obsession with entertainment as opposed to the value of education. I'm probably not wording it quite as you did, and that students don't understand that when the foundation is lacking the entertainment will not bring them anything and also that the power of teachers in a classroom to actually get things done and get some of these values across.

In your view, I would guess that standards would be higher or lower if they helped you to do these things, and that would be one criterion. Do you, in your experience, is the introduction of the Common Core standards helping you to do either of these two things? Are they an obstacle? Are they not a factor? How would you explain that?

JOHN PHILLIPS: I would say that so far I haven't made any type of radical adjustment, nor have I swayed one way or the other. I would say one thing that they have done a good job of in history for example, is not just have a student give the answer, but an explanation.

So if they saw a sign of a specific symbol of a flag, rather than say well I know it's got to be A, B, or C, the question is it's B, the next line is explanation. Did you put B on the test because you just said hey, I've got a 33 percent chance of getting this right, or am I able to now explain why it is what I put on the paper, which I think connects with something that's very critical, and this might have been before Common Core, it's (inaudible) of critical thinking.

Not just putting an answer down there, but specifically in history why is it that you think the way that you do, so that would be the one benefit that at least that has been tied into this.

REP. LAVIELLE: And so do you feel that that actually, does that help students understand why they're learning what they're learning? Does that get them more motivation or indifferent or not, or?

JOHN PHILLIPS: I think the biggest thing I believe that it does, it encourages them to be critical thinkers, and so I mean, we do live in, like I said, an age of entertainment where Twitter, Facebook, quick flashers, quick pictures, a lot of emotions are going through kids heads.

Can they process all this information and ask the second or third question beyond that. I understand, I tell my kids all the time, there are going to be times when they're going to be like, Phillips, be quiet. Turn the lights off. I'll put my head on the desk. Let's have a little napping period, right, and I say you're just going to have to fight through this and trust me that five, six, seven years down the line, some of the things that we do are going to be beneficial.

And I think one of the things that I have to say and I mean, we do live in a fast, easy, cheap society at times, where we want the answers fast. We want to make sure the price is right, you know, and we want things to be easy, sometimes.

And kids are going to have to learn, you know what? You're going to have to be tough. You're going to have to fight through it. You're going to have to be patient, and that's not an easy thing to tell kids. I'm not going to lie. It's not easy for someone to tell me that, you know, so that's what I would have to say concerning that matter.

REP. LAVIELLE: Thank you. That's most interesting. I can identify with that experience as well. I've taught advertising at UConn for several semesters and I was advised to keep the students entertained.


REP. LAVIELLE: And that just didn't go (inaudible) Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you. Are there any further questions? If not, thank you very much for your testimony.

JOHN PHILLIPS: Thank you. Appreciate it.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Karissa Neihoff. Is she still in the room? If not, Theresa Dickinson. Is she still?

A VOICE: She left.

REP. FLEISHMANN: She left. Mark Waxenberg, CEA?

MARK WAXENBERG: Good evening, Mr. Chairperson. I'd like to bring up the President of CEA with me, not to add time, but to split time, but permissible.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Fair enough. The clock has begun.

Please --

MARK WAXENBERG: You have the testimony in front of you. I'm not going to read it. I think we've stated our positions very clearly on both bills that are before you, H.B. 5078, 5331. If you look at our initial comments you'll find that in relationship to Common Core we make an analogy for that of a traffic light and say that you know, should we use the stop signal. We're not in that position. Do we think that there's a go sign there? We're not in that position.

We're saying proceed with caution and the evidence that we've presented to you, I think the exhibit attached to our testimony is supportive of that in a variety of different instances and to corroborate some of the statements and probably some of the misstatements that were made before us relative to the issue of Common, implementation of Common Core.

Clearly as has been stated by the President and myself on numerous occasions, the teachers in the State of Connecticut have been supportive of high standards. They always will be. They always have been. I was fortunate enough to be on the Mastery Test Implementation Advisory Committee in 1985 and I think that there's no doubt that you'll find every teacher in the State of Connecticut is supportive of high standards.

The issue, though, of how we get there from here is something that needs to be dealt with in a way that we're hopeful can be dealt with by the Governor's most recent executive order to look at the charges of that committee, which we fully support, fully will participate in, and in fact are in the process of creating a needs assessment of all of our members across the State of Connecticut as to what are their needs to successfully implement the Common Core for their children, for their students and bring those needs to a recommendation level to the task force in the hopes that they can do this in a way that's most effective for the students, teachers and parents across the state.

I want to call your attention quickly within the 30 seconds that I have left, to the sixth, you mistimed it. It was only ten.

I'll just refer you to some of the exhibits that we attached and on the issue of the PEAC, just let me summarize there.

Very simply stated as far as PEAC goes, this is decision, this bill 5331. You know, that's a decision for the Legislative Body to determine, what is its role in policy in the State of Connecticut, education policy.

In 2012 you chose to defer that and hand it over to the State Department of Ed through the PEAC Committee. We are working with the PEAC road and the AFP Connecticut and the constituents groups trying to resolve issues that we believe are necessary to implement teacher evaluation appropriately and effectively through an administrative agency.

The question you have to have is, is that the appropriate way to go about doing that and you have to make that decision and we encourage you to make it in what you believe to be the best interest of the state.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you. Now what I heard you say that you were sharing your time. Does that mean that you --

SHEILA COHEN: We're a team. We get along all right. He'll pay for it.

MARK WAXENBERG: I always state (inaudible).

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you, Madam President. I'm sure he heard you. Are there questions for either Mr. Waxenberg or Miss Cohen. Mr. Ackert to be followed by Senator Boucher.

REP. ACKERT: Good to see you, sir, and thanks for your testimony. The slides were helpful. I saw them at your presentation also a few weeks ago.

I think a couple of things, and you made a good point regarding the PEAC assessment now, what they're doing with it now in terms of the PEAC and the evaluations component now.

It's changed a little bit since, you know, we first started this evaluation process in Connecticut and SEED program, for those are the ones that could use a waiver or just use a three, whatever, it was kind of a mixture. So some districts were able to create their own evaluation process that was accepted by SDE.

Some used the SEED, which was very cumbersome and you know, cost the districts a little bit of money. Teachers were, you know, being pulled out of classrooms.

The first question, do you believe that where we stand now in working with the PEAC will be a collaborative effort with your teachers and your organizations, and do the conversations, should they meet more often, and what are your thoughts on that, and maybe that there's more of a faster process in working on evaluations and getting input from your organization and from your teachers.

SHEILA COHEN: In taking a look at what's happened since PEAC was originated, there was a framework that was put into place that was agreed upon by consensus, but there was no flesh on the bones of that framework, and it wasn't until just recently that PEAC reconvened in order for that to happen.

In looking at what transpired in coming up with an evaluation tool and pretty much assuming that the entire state was going to go by the way of PEAC, it created a lot of problems. It created a lot of problems not only for the districts, it created a lot of problems for the classroom.

It is absolutely essential that if this is, that if anything is going to be a valid evaluation, a true evaluation that's not going to be harmful for children, that will not be harmful to the professionals in the classroom and that will not be harmful to the district, we have to keep looking at it. Hopefully we can do it from PEAC.

That is a venue that we have been successful so far with regards to implementing flexibility options that truly have brought some relief at this point in time. We are going to have to maintain that and make sure that the timeline does not exhaust itself before continued progress can be made this year.

REP. ACKERT: Great, thank you. I appreciate that answer and, so now it segues into my next question is that we have the other bill imposing a moratorium on the implementation of the Common Core standards.

So in 2010 we implemented this in the full, you know, this is what we're going to do. We're going to do it in, you know, and start it this year, this year being the 2013-2014 year and Smarter Balance Assessment Consortium is going to take place. We are going to use those assessments for evaluations. This is until just, you know, two months ago and so I correlate that a little bit with what's happened with the evaluations. Dump it all on you. Made a mistake, I think. I don't think that school districts were ready, and then we eased back.

And I look at this in terms of what we're doing here with now 5078 is that we dumped it. Here you go. Some districts did a great job of implementing it. Some not so. Some haven't done it, working on CMTs still, and now in a way, does this maybe go a little too far? Can we change the language to say let's ease back in this legislation?

So I look at it as a same correlation, one that works well for our school districts in terms of evaluation and now here's one with a, the Common Core, not really the standards. I'm not talking about standards. I'm just talking about the implementation component of it where we say, hey, let's ease back. Let's get everybody caught up, because a couple of superintendents said similar comments.

So your reaction to my comments or my question, I should say.

MARK WAXENBERG: I think that the, it's clear by one of our exhibits that we polled all of our districts as to where they are, or where relative to training or to Common Core. We have some as you stated, I'd like to give the analogy of, that we're a football field. We have some people that are on the five-yard line. We have some people on 50. We have some people that have yet to get out of their own end zone.

So we recognize that statewide there is an inconsistency of application as to readiness for what's going to be happening in and amongst our classrooms.

But I have to say that I'm not sure this legislation, even as amended, it's trying to hit a moving target, if you will.

And I'm going to make a suggestion. I have a lot of confidence, I have to say this, in the task force that has been created because of its constituent groups that are on it.

I really believe that they are going to come up, through a series of recommendations, of how to address what has already been cited as a problem in the roll out of how we deal with Common Core in the State of Connecticut.

I'm not sure we can legislate that preemptively as much as recognize it and have faith about this task force doing its due diligence with the composition that it has, of teachers, of parents, of superintendents, to really do the job that's been given to them by the charge of the Governor, and to get the answer back by June.

Yes, will it be outside of the guideline of this Legislative Body. Unfortunately, yes. But it's my hope that if the recommendations of that committee are such that may require legislation, that that legislation would be taken up immediately and the first of January of next year, which is of course the school year, but the word will go out if, in fact, some of the ideas are a phase in or more simplistically, summer institutes for teachers like we did during the mastery test days to establish clear curriculum aligned with the standards that have been changed in accordance with Common Core.

Those are preparatory things that need to be looked at so that the children in Bridgeport get the same opportunity to be successful as the children in Weston. That's not happening today.

We talked about the achievement gap. My fear, my fear is if we don't get this done appropriately, we will widen the achievement gap.

If you look at our chart, you look at what Weston has done. They've adopted the Singapore to Singapore, professional development curriculum because it aligns with Common Core. Did they have PD on the English part? Absolutely. Brought in a person from Columbia.

You look at Bridgeport's report. They got rid of all their department chairmen in 2010 and the teachers are swimming. Freeloading. Going on line, you know, every day.

So I guess what I'm saying is, it's a mixed bag at best. I'm not sure legislation is the appropriate vehicle, but we have a task force that I have a tremendous amount of confidence in. I have to, because for the first time there's 12 professional teachers that are going to be sitting on that task force to address the issues that hopefully, or should have been addressed in 2010 and we're a little late to the game. But we can get there.

And I don't know if I answered your question, but --

REP. ACKERT: You did and beyond, and I can't thank you enough for indulging me. But I want to thank you both for your advocacy, for your members, and for the students they teach.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you. Senator Boucher.

SENATOR BOUCHER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you both for being here. I know that you're advocates for teachers and their workplace, but you have a vast amount of experience firsthand on teaching our children and you've expressed some very good views, I believe, on your concern about what goes on in the classroom and rolling this out.

And it appears from your comments that you see this also as a cart before the horse. Have you ever found that we have come to the Legislature in this form after the fact, then coming along when we did Connecticut CMTs, the mastery tests, when I believe there was some legislative interaction during that process?

MARK WAXENBERG: It would be reform bill, the Education Enhancement Act was a very comprehensive piece of legislation that set standards and salaries and part of that was, of course, the creation of the Connecticut Mastery Test, which in comparison to the Common Core test, if you look at the documents that are associated with our testimony, it's an 80 percent match with the Common Core.

Connecticut, I think one of the previous speakers mentioned about Connecticut need to be competitive. I think that's a little bit of a mistake because on the most recent (inaudible) exam that we took internationally, if Connecticut were a country, it would be fifth out of 64 countries in our abilities in science and we would be in the top tier for math and for reading, and that's because of the standards that we dealt with, like Massachusetts did a couple of years before us in 1985.

So I don't want to leave anybody here with the misconception that we are standard-less, if there's such a word, but that we are, we've always created the standards and expectations of our students for the highest level possible.

The question now is, how do we now reformat those standards without throwing the baby out with the bath water, but --

SHEILA COHEN: If I may? Thank you. I think the difference between what we're dealing with right now as an evaluation tool and what we've dealt with as far as the CMT was concerned, was that not only was the CMT, were the CMT standards developed by the professionals in the classroom, the subsequent test was developed by the professionals as well.

All the standards were vetted for age, as well as grade level appropriateness, which I do not believe has been the case with the SBAC test. We're looking at it right now.

The test was piloted by the professionals and it wasn't just thrust upon the teachers in the classroom and having the teachers be expected to teach to the test, because that's what it was, and teach a curriculum that had not been developed and then have the children scored on it only to then turn around and find out that that score would be crucial in determining what his or her evaluation score was going to end up with.

So the angst is well founded, which was not the angst that we found when we developed the CMTs, which were appropriate then and could be perhaps, retooled.

SENATOR BOUCHER: Thank you for that response. You were here for Dr. Sandra Stotsky's testimony?

SHEILA COHEN: I heard part of it upstairs, yes.

SENATOR BOUCHER: And her concern that the Common Core standards needed to be revised and maybe improved, that part of it appeared to be high standard, on the older grades less so, and that maybe that the testing ought to be suspended until such time that that could be reviewed by the professional level, of a review by educators. What is your reaction to her point of view?

SHEILA COHEN: I listened to a great deal of what she had to say and I quite frankly, agreed with a lot of it.

I also think that when you're taking a look at a standardized test, as we have said over and over again, and underscored in press conferences, a test result is a snapshot in time. It is not, as one of our wonderful Hamden professionals said, David Abate, during the debate during our press conference, it's not a photo album. It's just a snapshot.

And to determine whether a child is a failure or a success, whether to mislead a parent by telling them what the results of that test is and how to think about his or her child and then ultimately evaluate a teacher based on one, single test score is ludicrous.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you. Senator Bartolomeo.

SENATOR BARTOLOMEO: Thank you, Mr. Chair. I'm wondering, if you could give what would be your ideal scenario for two things. One is, how many years would you ideally like to see there be an absence of a linkage between SBAC results and teacher evaluation. We've already got one year. We're waiting for two. You know, it's going to take more than that for the tests to be validated. What, in your professional opinion, what's the ideal amount of time, if you could, that's question number one.

And the second would be, how many, if you were to look at SBAC at one measure but if you had a longitudinal type thing throughout a year, how many tests would you like to look at to have the teachers' evaluation depend upon?

MARK WAXENBERG: To answer the first question, we do not believe that any single test score should be any percentage of a teacher's evaluation and sense, clearly.

I don't believe it's a good policy for any portion, or any percentage, and I would even say that well, it's up to you. I'm not going to ask you the question, but I asked people across the state the question and the majority of the public of course is clearly similar in thought.

No percentage of a teacher's evaluation should be dependent on a single, standardized test score. In a year from now, five years from now, ten years from now. So I guess that answers that question.

Secondly, the issue of testing related to a teacher's evaluation. Formative assessments, when I was in the classroom, Sheila's a classroom teacher, my students and my evaluation was predicated on results on a test, whether they were teacher developed, or somebody mentioned the NWAA, which was a, is a battery of three over the course of a year. Of course you examine that, to show growth over time.

You know --

SENATOR BARTOLOMEO: So your answer would be ideally, at least three in the course of a year.

MARK WAXENBERG: I think, we say multiple measures, at least two, hopefully three because mostly it's a battery of tests.

Let me give you a quick example. The present CMTs, I could ask a question. I'm a math teacher now. Who's better, the child that scores an 80 or a child that scores the 75? Oh, the kid that got the 80. That's a B, 75 is a C plus.

There's 25 state objectives on the math test when I was teaching it, four questions on every objective. That's 100. Three out of four is mastery of that particular standard, fractions, decimals, et cetera.

Well, if Sheila Cohen got three out of four right in 25 of those standards, she got a 75 as a raw score, but she's mastered all 25 areas.

Mark Waxenberg got an 80. On 20 he got 4 out of 4. I don't know anything about the last 5. So you're going to say that Mark Waxenberg got an 80, Sheila got a 75 without looking at where the growth of the child is, what does the child know, what does the child not know, and what is the diagnostic nature of that test relative to me as a teacher, I'm not worried about that 75. She's mastered three out of four.

I'm worried about the person that didn't get the five. I'm going to spend my time with Mark Waxenberg because he doesn't know the algebra component.

When you're looking at --

SENATOR BARTOLOMEO: Well, I appreciate your answer and I absolutely agree with the argument that you're making, and especially when we look at children with special education needs ==


SENATOR BARTOLOMEO: -- you know, it's not a measure of what they know, so thank you very much for that answer.

MARK WAXENBERG: I'm sorry I went on too long.

SENATOR BARTOLOMEO: That's okay. I'm just working with Mr. Chairman.

MARK WAXENBERG: Oh, that's interesting.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Mike Molgano, to be followed by Mike D'Agostino, to be followed by our next witness.

REP. MOLGANO: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, Mark and Sheila. Thanks for your testimony. I'm looking at your breakdown from locals and I'm going to pick on my own, Stamford.


REP. MOLGANO: And does Common Core/Professional Development and Training Response and an interesting comment there. No one could really address the issue of the mismatch. Can you elaborate on what mismatch you're referring to?

MARK WAXENBERG: That would be another exhibit. If you look at Common Core in our exhibit, the mismatch is highlighted, I think on the first, it's line 6 I want to say, where the percentages are from the State Department of Education relative to their, where the standards that were presently in the system and where they are now by grade, and that, I'm sorry I'm going through papers and quickly here, to try to find that, but there is a slide that shows for example, in the fifth grade level where 47 percent of the standards that were in the fifth grade are now in another grade.

So what you have, what we're talking about is what they call a crosswalk. You have fifth grade standards that were existing last year. You now will get a new set of fifth grade standards. You match those together and say, what's missing. What's different?

Well, 40 percent, 47 percent in the fifth grade is different. They may have been eighth grade standards. They're now fifth grade standards. That's a crosswalk.

So as teacher, have I had any professional development and/or curriculum guidance given to me how to meld those new standards? So what was done in the eighth grade is now in the fifth grade and things of that nature.

REP. MOLGANO: Thank you very much. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

EP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you. Representative D'Agostino.

REP. D'AGOSTINO: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you both for being here. I want to ask you a similar version of the question I asked AFT going back to the PEAC guidelines, and that is, I appreciate you, look, I think we all appreciate that you're threading a little bit of a political needle here with your testimony on PEAC and appreciate that CEA is willing to see that process through and work within that time limit for the next few months. I know I have some concerns about whether PEAC can actually be this sort of dynamic force for actual change and revisions that I think CEA and a lot of the teachers want to see, but I appreciate what you've said about it.

Can you just explain to us what you've done to communicate that strategy to your members and to your unit leaders, because we've all heard directly from teachers. We went to this wonderful event that you guys organized in various districts and heard directly from them and heard a lot of them clamoring for some sort of legislative statutory change and now you've come here and AFT have come here and said, no, no, we're willing to work with PEAC at least for now.

So if you could just walk us through what you've done to get the buy in from your membership?

SHEILA COHEN: Absolutely. I don't want to necessarily put a caveat on what was said before knowing that as you just said, it is threading, putting a thread through the eye hole of the needle.

I will say without a doubt, though, without a caveat whatsoever, that we have heard our members loudly and we have heard them clearly. We know what's working in districts. We know what's not working in districts. We know what's working for kids and what's fair to children, and we know what's not, and the same thing is true of our members, and we will go to the nth degree to do what is right for public education in our classrooms this year.

There can absolutely be no doubt about our intent. Having said that, even as recently as last night, we had a statewide local president's meeting. We had over 100 of our local presidents from our 155 CEA districts there, and we literally went through not only what the flexibility options avail themselves to the districts in terms of the professional development and evaluations committee and what could take place this year.

We also had a work group that took a look at the current PEAC approved and State Board of Education guidelines and asked them to take it a step further and what more would they recommend, and then we tell them as we go along with each and every meeting. We send out either an all-member email or a local president email and they are thoroughly apprised of what we are doing. We are absolutely transparent.

REP. D'AGOSTINO: Terrific. Thank you. And I hope as that process goes forward, if there was any roadblocks, you'll feel free to come to this Committee and let us know.

MARK WAXENBERG; We will definitely communicate to the Legislative branch of government.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Representative Kokoruda for a final brief question.

REP. KOKORUDA: I promise I'll be brief. Thank you so much. As you just heard from Representative D'Agostino, we heard from AFT today. Frankly, I was sort of surprised by the testimony and, because like a lot of people here, I met with my teachers through the wonderful, you know, workshops and forums you folks put on and we listened to them.

I went as far, I went several towns away and listened to teachers I had never met before but it was the same story, and I know a lot of the angst we're talking about is because of all the changes.

But it's also because of the revisions and the changes we seem to be making on somewhat of a daily basis, so I'm a little confused.

I know you oppose the moratorium we talked about, but Sheila, especially, in your testimony you talk about there is no reason to rush forward with the implementation when there are so many questions about how standards were developed, exactly by whom, and whether they are developmentally appropriate in each and every grade.


REP. KOKORUDA: So obviously, for us to be moving forward this Session, with all the concerns of the 43,000 teachers, it's a real concern of a lot of ours, too, so could you just address that?

MARK WAXENBERG: We are in a situation right now that in one month there's going to be, if it hasn't already started, the Smarter Balance assessment being given in the State of Connecticut. Some people talked about the data collection, et cetera. The reality is, as soon as you put a student number on a piece of paper, you've got data.

Now what they use it for is questionable, but getting back to your issue.

We presently are going to have a Smarter Balance test in the State of Connecticut. It's starting to be given now through the next couple of months. That's a fact in life. That's a reality.

The issues that we have is to learn from, not only learn from the experience, but to be able to look at where do we go from here?

Moratorium is a word that can be interpreted as a stop. Our concern is, we don't want to stop the discussion of high standards in the State of Connecticut in how best to service our students.

We want to, as the traffic light says, we want to be able to proceed with caution. So there's, I don't want to try to be smart and just put that piece of thread through a needle.

You won't find teachers saying stop everything and just let me walk in today with my lesson book. What you want to have is a balance saying, we listened to you, we hear what you're saying. We're going to listen to what your needs are in order to fully implement this new standard-setting tool and to do it appropriately for your children.

That's not stopping. It could be slowing down. It could be for the ones that are five yards away from the goal line, go right ahead. It could be the ones that aren't out of their goal line yet, a set of timelines for them to get to the goal lines and in the interim, use district benchmarks to hold them accountable for how their progress goes on an annual basis.

There is no, you know, this one-size=fits- all, past stale model. It's absurd. You know, it just is absurd.

And does that mean we have to do it because it came? No. Connecticut's a pretty free thinking State of Connecticut, you know. We do things right. We take our time and we have to get this right, and I'm not suggesting and we're not suggesting that we stop. But let's just pause and make sure we get it right. That's basically all I'm suggesting.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you, and thank you very much for your testimony and your patience tonight.


SHEILA COHEN: Thank you.

REP. FLEISHMANN: I want to stick with our policy of trying to make sure if there are any students in the room that we get them to the microphone and out of the room. I understand that we have a student who's joined us. If you'd like to approach the microphone, give your name and your hometown and your testimony. We welcome that.

ADELE OPRICA: My names Adele Oprica, and I'm from Avon, Connecticut.

REP. FLEISHMANN: What grade are you in, Adele?


REP. FLEISHMANN: Fourth grade. Go right ahead.

ADELE OPRICA: I don't like Common Core because in school I don't learn anything. And in math and (inaudible) same thing over and over again because some kids don't get it, and even the kids who get it can't move on.

So we learn methods in math and the teacher asks us to do a problem. Even if we get the answer right, if we haven't solved it the way we learned we got the question wrong, so we can't be creative and I don't understand why the people who think they know what kids learn made the Common Core when really if that's how they think kids learn, they are wrong, wrong, wrong. Because I'm positive that if you ask any kid that wants to learn, they will say that they don't like Common Core, and that I hate the new SBAC tests because if you make a mistake you can't fix it, and if you want to look back at a problem that you did earlier in the test, you can't.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you for that testimony, and you know, it was so perfect. The only problem is that it was so good, it undercuts your argument that you're not learning what you should in school because you seem phenomenally well educated.

But that being said, I very much appreciate your very carefully laid out argument. Are there questions from members of the Committee? Representative Ackert.

REP. ACKERT: Thank you. Thank you for coming here and I know you've got to get home and do homework, right?

ADELE OPRICA: Thank you.

REP. ACKERT: Probably that's done already, as the good Chair said, it's probably already done.

But I just want to say, you have tests, you and your class have already tested on the Smarter Balance Assessment Consortium this year or did you take it last year and you still have to do it this year?

ADELE OPRICA: We didn't do it yet this year, but we went through a practice (inaudible).

REP. ACKERT: Thank you. Thank you for your testimony and thank you for being here.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Representative Lavielle.

REP. LAVIELLE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I agree with our Chairman completely, that you obviously have, are very accomplished, but perhaps you're that way naturally.

So I just have a quick question for you. When the Common Core was introduced and you were given new things to do and so on, did they actually tell you at school, now, this is not what you did before because this is Common Core? They made that clear to you? They said, here, I present to you Common Core stuff?


REP. LAVIELLE: Then how did you know it was Common Core stuff?

ADELE OPRICA: Well, my parents told me about it and then I realized it.

REP. LAVIELLE: I was just curious, because I don't know how they do those things any more in school, so you recognize it all over the place? Okay, thank you. Thank you very much.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Senator Boucher.

SENATOR BOUCHER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and welcome, as well. I'm right over here. Hi, how are you? And guess what? I spent a day in the fourth grade this year, too, and I tried to do the word problems, your math word problems that you are trying to do and it was really, really hard.

And in this class there were students that did it in those, you know, little squares and units that you have to do it, right?


SENATOR BOUCHER: Yeah, see, we know. And others that actually used what they learned before on doing multiplication tables and they showed their work on their pieces of paper, and in this particular class, the teacher accepted both ways, I guess. But it was really confusing.

And I want to know if you had had preparation that year before, the year before that, to learn how to do those word problems using squares and units to figure it out versus the multiplication tables or the division tables?

ADELE OPRICA: Well, in third grade we learned like the tables and like the multiplication and fourth grade we learned about the unit bars.

SENATOR BOUCHER: So it was brand new to you in the fourth grade? You hadn't had it earlier.

ADELE OPRICA: Well, we had it in third grade but we (inaudible) did it.

SENATOR BOUCHER: You did. So, which way did you find it easier to do?

ADELE OPRICA: I found it easier to do the multiplication.

SENATOR BOUCHER: Thank you for your answers.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Any other questions for this articulate witness? If not, thank you very much for your time and your testimony and I hope you get enough sleep tonight to do a good job at school tomorrow. Thank you. Jessica Chiong, to be followed by Kristen Keska. Are Jessica or --

A VOICE: Jessica Chiong?

REP. FLEISHMANN: Your time has come.

JESSICA CHIONG: Finally. Thank you. Thank you for having us here today. It's been a pleasure. It's my first time at the Capitol. I understand I'm on the clock so I'll try to do this as quickly as I can, but at some point I want to talk slowly so that you understand what I'm saying.

First, I'm going to start off. My name is Jessica Chiong. I live in West Haven, Connecticut. Hi, Mr. Davis, how are you?

I'm going to ask you this question to kind of think about it as I go over my testimony, because I didn't include this in my testimony.

I was PTA president of my school last year and I knew of the Common Core being put in since 2010. I really didn't see any issues in 2010, 2011. But last year I started to question it and do a lot more research, so I went to see my children's tests, the Common Core tests that they were doing in the classrooms.

I was told that I could not take these test home because we're not allowed to see them, so I had to go see them in the school. I'm going to use my son for an example.

When he started off in first grade last year, he started off at a kindergarten phase of Common Core. In the first grade, kindergarten phase. By the end of the school year of first grade, I believe there were five or six phases. He only surpassed two or three of those phases.

So I looked at my teacher and said, oh, man --

SENATOR BYE: We'll give you a little more time.

JESSICA CHIONG: All right. I'll try to wrap it up.

REP. FLEISHMANN: You lost some with your preamble, but if you could --

JESSICA CHIONG: Yes, I know. I didn't realize it went so fast. Anyway, so by the end school year he only passed two or three of the phases, yet they still passed him on to second grade. I didn't understand that.

So that was part of the confusion of why I started looking into Common Core. So my testimony that I wrote, I'll try to read very quickly.

REP. FLEISHMANN: You know, it's really, we have the written testimony, so if you want to summarize your main point, that would be most appropriate.

JESSICA CHIONG: Okay. Other things that I wanted to testify that wasn't on my testimony is, you guys remember outcome-based education, nineteen seventies, nineteen eighties? Anybody remember that? Okay. And do you remember No Child Left Behind? Okay?

Outcome, OBE, was a great-grandfather. No Child Left Behind was the grandfather, and now Common Core is the father. They're all the same. I've been doing research from 2011 until now and if you do the research like I have for the past three years, you will see it's all the same thing. It's just been changed, name by name.

They didn't like outcome-based education. they took it out. They didn't like No Child Left Behind. They took it out. Now we have Common Core.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you for your testimony. Are there questions? Representative Lavielle.

REP. LAVIELLE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Good evening, Jessica. Thank you for your patience.


REP. LAVIELLE: I'll just ask you this very simple question. What would you like to see happen? What would you like to see this Legislature do?

JESSICA CHIONG: I want to see the State of Connecticut opt out of Common Core. If any of you are paying attention to the news at all, you will see that four states have opted out of Common Core. Michigan is on its way of opting out of Common Core, and every other single state in the United States is doing the same thing that we are trying to do here in Connecticut. It's not just a Connecticut issue, it's a national issue. National everywhere, teachers, superintendents, educators, taxpayers.

REP. LAVIELLE: Would you suggest that that be a mandatory opt out for all districts or a permissive, enabling opt out for districts that want to?

JESSICA CHIONG: I suggest that the State of Connecticut totally and completely, gets out of Common Core, and can I explain why?

REP. LAVIELLE: Of course. Please.

JESSICA CHIONG: Common Core was created by the Governor's Council paid for by the private entities of the Bill and Linda Gates Foundation. It passed the Legislature, was given the Race to the Top (inaudible) money for all the states that wanted to adopt it.

In Connecticut, we did not receive this money, but through the minutes that I have seen from the Educational Committee and when you guys sat down and discussed back in 2010, you guys seemed to need to ask for more and more time to review the Common Core standards and then all of a sudden the State of Connecticut just adopted them.

SENATOR BYE: I'm just going to ask you to be concise about why we should drop out. I think it's a very good question, so you said the whole state should drop out? If you can just tell us why you think we should drop out? Is it the (inaudible).

JESSICA CHIONG: There are so many issues to Common Core that I could be here all night, all day, I could be here for a week. The main concern is, I've done the research. From 2009 and before, we were meeting state standards, 2010 we implemented Common Core. Our test scores dropped. In 2011, they dropped more. In 2012 they dropped more and probably 2013 even more.

So in my opinion, since we've adopted Common Core, we've done nothing but fail. So why not go back to what we were doing and just improve it on our own. We had teachers who went to school to teach. We have professors who went to school to write curriculum. They have doctorate degrees. Let them do their jobs.

We do not need the federal government to tell us what we need to do. They should not be involved with our children's education by any, shape.

REP. LAVIELLE: Thank you very much, and thank you, Madam Chair.

SENATOR BYE: Thank you for your testimony.


SENATOR BYE: No, no, you know what? You waited a long time. You've been passionate. We really appreciate your coming up.

JESSICA CHIONG: I've done a lot of research, so sometimes --

SENATOR BYE: That's good and you can feel free to share more with Committee members, you know, through email if there's more, and we do have your testimony, so thank you very much for coming out tonight.


SENATOR BYE: Thanks for your patience. Oh, Representative Davis.

JESSICA CHIONG: Yes, Mr. Davis. I really hope that we're going to sit down and talk sometime soon.

REP. DAVIS: Some things never change. I hope that your experience here, coming up the first time has been informative and a good learning experience. You were always a very good student.

Knowing about your research, how do you think your school district has handled implementation of the standards? We heard from a person in your district from the teacher's point of view. I'd like to hear from a parent's point of view as to what's going on with the standards and how the district is handling the standards?

JESSICA CHIONG: With the districts handling the standards, as far as a parent is concerned, we have asked time and time again for a hearing from our own superintendent and assistant superintendent to explain the Common Core and have a hearing like we're having here today.

It has not happened. I've asked for it since probably about a year ago next month and I continue to ask for it.

As for implementing it, they've done an excellent job by getting $2.8 million for Alliance grant money to do it. They are very passionate about it. I've gone to my board of ed meetings, every other week whatever it is that they have and you know, they're implementing it and they feel very strongly about it.

They're actually, West Haven is, I believe the number one town in the State of Connecticut to fully implement it.

REP. DAVIS: Does your son go to kindergarten in the public school district?

JESSICA CHIONG: I have a first, second and third grader right now.


JESSICA CHIONG: So I have seen the difference between Common Core and non-Common Core. I actually sat on the Citizens Advisory Committee where we give money to certain organizations, including Head Start and all that stuff, and I actually talked to the person after the meeting, and I asked her, I said, you're in Head Start. You guys don't have to follow the Common Core, do you being in Head Start. She said like, oh, no, we have to.

I said, no you don't. She said like, no, the state gave us money so we told we have to.

REP. DAVIS: Uh-huh.

JESSICA CHIONG: I said no, you don't. You don't have to. And honestly, a child in Head Start, learning Common Core, what are you going to teach a child in Heart Start in Common Core?

REP. DAVIS: Okay, thank you. And we will talk.


SENATOR BYE: Thank you, Representative. It seems like you have a willing ear, so thank you for coming out today and for your patience.

JESSICA CHIONG: Thank you for having me.

SENATOR BYE: And for all your research. Kristen Keska, to be followed by Raymond Peabody. Is Raymond here? Okay. Welcome, Kristen.

KRISTEN KESKA: Hi. I have been teaching social studies at East Hampton High School for eight years and I'm a UConn Neag grad.

With the implementation of the new Common Core State Standards, CCSS, the new SBAC testing and the new Connecticut Teacher Evaluation System, I now feel like a juggling circus clown, not a professional teacher.

I struggle on a consistent basis to keep a structured and successful classroom where I know the students are growing as future leaders, learning our core history and improving their writing skills.

With or without CCSS, this has always been my professional goal. Our classrooms have been broken into and the robbers are taking everything away that we teachers value and know works. I support parts of H.B. 5078. I understand why CCSS was created. I do not oppose rigorous educational standards that are aligned across the state.

What I do oppose is the process that was used to create and implement these standards. Teachers are the ground troops of the classroom and we were not utilized as the anchors and professionals that we are, and this has been the point of contention since the creation of CCSS.

We are the professionals and we do not have a job or a career, but a passion. Yet teachers' voices and critiques have been stifled at every step of the national and state process. Our collective voices have been saying, slow down the implementation of CCSS, fix the testing and technological problems with SBAC and evaluate us, but in a way that does not take upon hours upon hours of collecting data that it does not prove our merit as professionals and our students as learners.

I should not have to spend two hours creating a universal screen that's not related to classroom content, 14 hours of reading and scoring these essays based of the CCSS rubric, three hours putting the data together, an hour with my department analyzing the data and over an hour meeting with my supervisor about said data for my mid-term evaluation, one evaluation.

With the time it takes to give the prompts and then create a lesson that helps the students understand what they were missing and why what they were missing matters. We are almost at 24 hours of time, a lot which is my own time, beyond the ringing of a bell.

Many politicians who have been quoted in the press are saying that their goal is to make the roll out of CCSS smoother for next year. But in reality, the roll out started the beginning of this year in East Hampton. This is why teachers and administrators are scrambling, without any assistance to comply with the standards overnight, versus gradually and effectively.

Professional development and the creation of a curriculum that would elevate the CCSS was not created by most schools before September and new aligned, tested, vetted, curriculum cannot be completed in one single year.

The chaos of the speedy implementation of CCSS, SBAC and the evaluation system has not only impacted teachers, but it has impacted our pride and joy, our students. My students are stressed. They may not be able to complain why, but their stress always paralleled mine.

What once used to be coherent lessons created using backwards design models are now choppy, with random data checkpoints such as universal screens and snapshots, which are often not tied to my unit or curriculum. The students know this and get visually and argumentatively upset about this.

Thirty seconds left. I do not support the portion of H.B. 5078 that takes away the Department of Education's ability to spend appropriated money to assist districts while CCSS is being investigated. Districts still need those funds to upgrade their technology for SBAC and along with many other services that support stronger student learning and outcomes.

I agree with the Superintendent Charles from Middletown. Their district, as well as many others, relies on every single penny our state and federal government can contribute to create the best learning environment for their students.

Please amend the bill to remove the appropriations half. If this bill is passed, even if it's not, please make sure teachers have the majority voice in any CCSS research and investigation panels, anything with evaluation of students.

SENATOR BYE: Please wrap up.

KRISTEN KESKA: We have spent our lives focused on the success of children and we will never jeopardize that. Trust us as passionate professionals. Thank you.

SENATOR BYE: Thank you, Kristen, and thank you for bringing your passion and your hard work and I certainly heard a lot of common themes from you that I've been hearing teachers, so I really appreciate your testimony. Are there questions? Yes, Representative Ackert.

REP. ACKERT: Thank you, Madam Chair and Kristen, thank you for your passion and I think your students miss you today, because I think you sound like you kind of invigorate them.

KRISTEN KESKA: (Inaudible) to watch. So hopefully they saw this.

REP. ACKERT: East Hampton, you said, and your district sounds like many that I've talked to and the reason why I wanted to bring this conversation to this building and started it early in the Session that we didn't have the key components speaking, you know, the people that are going to implement this. Yourself, you know, parents have to support their children, so appreciate your passion.

When did East Hampton, because you didn't say when you actually started, East Hampton did. When was your professional development for the new standards and the new curriculum? When was your curriculum given to you to teach to your students?

KRISTEN KESKA: Well, I started off, because I'm social studies, so we are tied to ELA standards for Common Core. There is no social studies specific, so it's writing and reading skills, which we have actually been working on since all the eight years I've been teaching. So that's not new. It's just more rigorous.

Last year at the end of the year we started looking at our new rubric that we are using for big research papers, focus organizations and everything and switching it over to using the Common Core argumentative rubric standard. But we just created it. We never actually tested it out before we gave an assignment using it, so what's end up happening is we're working backwards. We're giving an assignment. We have the rubric and we are meeting on our own time to say well, how do you score what the counter-claim is if they got a three or a two or a one.

In terms of the curriculum, to be honest, the social studies department just started it. We've actually now had two meetings, one in February and one this month with Mary Clark, who's amazing, actually, from I believe CREC, but it's just a start and our district is saying it's going to take over two years to build a Common Core based curriculum, and that also includes a shift because at least for the high school level it's a matter of where U.S. history is going to be taught, where civics is going to be taught, and to be honest, it ties into a lot what we're doing now, but it's still a shift.

The issue is coming a lot especially in social studies in the younger grade levels. But to answer your question, the curriculum is not built yet and we're going to have two more meetings, which takes out 18 teachers for 4 days to build the social studies curriculum just for this year. The plan is to have this for two years, and that's just for this one topic.

Now imagine math is doing the same thing. English is doing the same thing. Science is doing the same thing. But then again, we're not talking about art and Spanish and other very key classes for our kids to be taking.

REP. ACKERT: Thank you for your answer and thank you for being here today. Thank you, Madam Chair, or Mr. Chair.

SENATOR BYE: Thank you so much. Kristen thank you, we appreciated, oh, Representative Davis.

REP. DAVIS: Thank you, Madam Chair, as a social studies teacher how do you compare the impact on the content that you believe is necessary for the kids to learn now as prior to the Common Core coming into your life?

KRISTEN KESKA: So Common Core coming into my life I would say officially it started happening this year and if you saw me over there, I was actually grading assignments that I, actually myself, with no training have put into the Common Core rubric.

In terms of last year versus this year, I have lost time to be able to teach the history, because again, we're being pulled from so many different directions and I have to create these new type of assessments, that are either Common Core based and/or Common Core based tied to the future SBAC testing.

So for example, when I took the practice argumentative ELA, but argumentative is usually taken over by the social studies department in terms of writing skills, persuasive writing, this is what I'm doing right now, convincing you what you need to do.

I had to change it because the students never before had a box that said here's a claim so the claim is, we should not have dropped the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki because it was too devastating to civilians.

Now, read this source and find at least three cited pieces of evidence that support that claim. Now my students have been working with evidence and finding it and citing it. That hasn't changed. My students know how to do what we call shred before, which is now counter claim. The language has changed. But I have had to take away time from my curriculum, the history that I used to teach, and now add a whole bunch of new tasks that no one's taught me how to do. I'm doing it based off of my knowledge, my research and my time with the practice test.

REP. DAVIS: Thank you. Thank you, Madam Chair.

SENATOR BYE: Thank you, Kristen. Kristen, I hear you more than criticizing the Common Core, criticizing how everything's coming at you so fast --


SENATOR BYE: -- without enough supports, and it's taking you away from your students. Is that accurate?

KRISTEN KESKA: Yeah. I said I don't oppose rigorous standards. I see a little bit more of a problem with it at the younger levels, but the high school level right now again, history tied to ELA and I have been working on, and all my departments, it's a wonderful school and I think a lot of history teachers are doing the same thing on strong persuasive writing skills, but everything at once, and not being directed, especially on the fact that we're going to have, we have SBAC. My kids are taking it Tuesday, Thursday for the next two weeks and they've done a practice one Tuesday, Thursday a week ago. So my juniors are being pulled out --

SENATOR BYE: I bet like my wife, you're very worried about the AP exam and losing all those days before the exam.

KRISTEN KESKA: Well, side note, not related to me because actually CAPS used to be when I did a practice AP exam, they don't have CAPS any more except for the science one. We don't know when we're giving that practice. My kids are mostly juniors, so now they're missing four classes and the AP exams are coming up.

SENATOR BYE: I got that. I got that.

KRISTEN KESKA: Did I answer your first question?



SENATOR BYE: And I just want to say, UConn should be proud of you and East Hampton should be proud of you. You're clearly working really hard, so keep it up and your students, I hope they're watching. They should be really proud of you for working to improve things. You're not just sitting around complaining. You took your whole day to come here and share your knowledge. We really appreciate it.

KRISTEN KESKA: Thank you very much.

SENATOR BYE: Raymond Peabody, to be followed by Randall Collins. Is Randall Collins here? If not --

A VOICE: Randall Collins are you asking for?

SENATOR BYE: After Raymond Peabody. You didn't look like Randall, but, are you here? Okay.

RAYMOND PEABODY: Mr. Chairman, esteemed members of the board who have stick-to-it-iveness to stay and listen to us, much appreciated. And I just want to comment, I really appreciate the Chairs efforts to keep all of us anxious people in line, and very much appreciate the fact that you put students first. That's what we're here for.

Okay. I am Raymond Peabody. I'm a member of the Board of Education for the Town of Enfield and what I want to share with you is the impact to the Board of Ed and to the Town on implementing Common Core.

The budget item that we have for developing our curriculum for CCSS is costing us $980,000. That's just for 2014-2015 Budget. It doesn't include the half a million dollars we've already spent in developing the curriculum.

And we're taking a protracted approach. We're not running, but we're moving with haste.

The evaluation part of Common Core is requiring us to have a certain number of 092 certified administrators. In our town right now that causes us to increase our administrative staff, certified 092 by seven people. That's at a cost of $700,000. Now, our Board of Education has received significant push back and pressure by town residents and the town council, members of both parties by the way, to remove the seven administrators from our 2014-1015 Budget, partially caused by we have declining enrollment. That is our pattern, but our pattern for a few years.

So right now our total budget for CCSS is $1,680,000. Frankly, our town can't afford it. The $1,680,000 is on top of what we paid for CREC. We paid $1,310,000, which results in $2,999,000 for state requirements that we're not getting funding for. No permanent funding, as a matter of fact.

Overall, the town's grand list has shrunk. As I said before, our student population has decreased. This results in a decrease in funding that we can use for our education system.

Now, we don't take that lying down in the Town of Enfield. We're byproducts of the greatest generation. So we roll up our sleeves and we figure out what to do.

What we've done there is a lot of shared services. We've (inaudible) buildings and grounds, we're taking our IT, our custodial staff, all belong to the town now. We're looking into social services to be taken over by the town as well so we can focus as much of our funding as we can on our educational system.

The results of implementing CCSS could very well force our Board of Education, superintendent's office, to cut programs, teaching talent, student services, and increase class size. Those are not desirable outcomes at all. But, right now we're forced at a $1.9 million budget increase, 2.99 percent over last year. Our overall budget is around, is right now projected between, somewhere between $66 million and $65 million.

In summary, we have focused on education in our town. We are trying to adopt Common Core, but frankly, we're just running out of money. That's it. Any questions?

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you. I appreciate your testimony and your respect for the wringer. Questions from members of the Committee? Representative Ackert.

REP. ACKERT: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, Raymond for being here and giving us your numbers, because in many districts it's the same. They're hiring non-teaching staff to implement curriculum writing, to focus on evaluations, non-teachers. Let me put it to you that way, and I understand your concerns and thank you for coming.

Now, where does Enfield stand in terms of curriculum development, professional development? Where are you at right now in terms of your school district?

RAYMOND PEABODY: Right now what we're doing is, we have three curriculum coordinators that are working feverishly on developing the curriculum for Common Core.

As far as professional development, they're also working with folks to get that going and what we're going to do is, we're going to make sure we're ready before we go. Teachers are going to be trained. The curriculum, let me back up.

Curriculum will be developed. The teachers will be trained. And then we're going to introduce it to the students and we're going to try not to do the big bang theory, which is a great TV show, but it really kind of stinks when you're trying to implement a program.

REP. ACKERT: Thank you. So you will not be using the Smarter Balance Assessment Consortium for the testing model this year?

RAYMOND PEABODY: Oh, we are. I'm sorry, we are using that.

REP. ACKERT: Okay, so my point being is that the Smarter Balance Assessment Consortium, SBAC testing --


REP. ACKERT: -- goes along with the Common Core State Standards, which you're still developing the curriculum and you're still going to need to get the teachers professional development.

So you're teaching, something that you're still working on. It's a similar position to many of our districts and that's what I wanted to hear, to see where you guys were at, so I want to thank you for your testimony today.

RAYMOND PEABODY: Okay. It's a great way to spend a vacation day. I'll tell you that.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Vacation days, birthdays, people are giving it all up today. Any other questions? Representative Kokoruda.

REP. KOKORUDA: Thank you, Mr. Peabody for being here tonight and for your testimony. You know, what you state about Enfield, I think as far as the financial obligation is something that we're hearing, especially those of us who represent towns, small towns.

But we heard from CAPS today, the things that really ramped up this year. Last year towns were kind of left out there to kind of implement everything themselves, but we heard from CAPS today, you know, Superintendents Association that in the past year there's been a ramping up and a significant assistance and support from the state.

Are you feeling that in your community and how is it affecting you? In money? Is it in training? What is the assistance that you've seen this year that's somewhat significant we're hearing.

RAYMOND PEABODY: Well, to be honest with you, right now I haven't seen much. We hear anecdotal evidence, but we're sort of going through to find out exactly what we're getting and those are the directions that were given to the superintendent to get back to the board of ed just last night.

So we're evaluating that to make sure we are getting the proper, not the proper, but we're getting the appropriate resources to support curriculum coordinators and our teaching staff and our administrators, the school system as a whole.

REP. KOKORUDA: In that assistance, is any of it fiscal? I mean, are you getting any dollars to help with this ramping up to offset that $1.6 million.

RAYMOND PEABODY: I have not seen it, so the answer is no.

REP. KOKORUDA: And you have a dropping enrollment? I think a lot of towns are seeing it, for sure.


REP. KOKORUDA: And are you able to net it out a little bit with your budgets, I mean, because, you know, this time of year people are looking at their budgets and --

RAYMOND PEABODY: We took that, we took an aggressive stance a few years ago. We had a number of zero based budgets. We did a number of cuts. We really cut to the bone, almost to the bone and we instituted things like pay for play for athletics. We cut back on, we, how is it proper to say it, we reduced our teaching leaves, we reduced our department chairs, and that was a significant dollar savings.

But we're in a position now where now we've got to bring back seven more administrators to handle, to help with the evaluation process.

Now we're getting creative. We're looking to go out and get contingent workers. We're working with our unions to see there, how can we fill this need. And we have another need by the way.

Our principals are getting the tars stomped out of them with all sorts of problems, children problems, family problems as well as education problems, so we're trying to sit there and support our principals as well at the transitional grades at the elementary level.

REP. KOKORUDA: Thank you very much. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you. Other questions? If not, thank you for your testimony, your patience, oh, Representative D'Agostino.

REP. D'AGOSTINO: Just a real quick question. Are you, is Enfield a member of CABE?

RAYMOND PEABODY: Yes, we are, but we're thinking of not being a member of CABE.

REP. D'AGOSTINO: That answers my question more than --

RAYMOND PEABODY: No need for --

REP. D'AGOSTINO: The debate is going on right now.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Any other questions? Representative Davis.

REP. DAVIS: Just a brief one, Mr. Chairman. I'm noticing your curriculum, you said budget impact of $980,000. Is that the difference between what is normally appropriated for curriculum development each year, or is that total over a period of years just for Common Core.

RAYMOND PEABODY: No. That is just for Common Core right now. It's not a total. It's a not an accumulative thing. We had to expand our curriculum coordination staff by two, actually by three with a lead curriculum coordinator who's been working on Common Core for quite some time.

REP. DAVIS: So what, so the $980,000 is an increase, or the $980,000 is, what's your normally budget at?

RAYMOND PEABODY: For 2014-15, $980,000 is the amount. Prior to that it was $300,000. That goes back to 2011-2012.

REP. DAVIS: So the Common core, the increase for the Common Core is about $600,000 some odd thousand that you've had to appropriate just specifically for Common Cause.

RAYMOND PEABODY: It does come to that 900. But think of it this way. The budget impacts $980,000 next year. We spent $800,000 this year. We spent less than, we spent $100,000 on it two years ago, three years ago, before my time, by the way.

REP. DAVIS: Right. What I'm trying to understand is, the impact difference between what you would normally spend on a curriculum development each year and what's being required as a result of the Common Core and I think that $600,000, if you spent approximately $300,000 per year on curriculum development, so that's where I'm getting that number from.

RAYMOND PEABODY: Okay. I see what you're saying. The real answer to that is, it's around $800,000 more than what we spend on regular curriculum.

REP. DAVIS: Okay. All right. That's what I was looking for. Thank you.


REP. DAVIS: Thank you, Mr. Chair.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Further questions? If not, thank you very much for your time, your testimony and your public service.

RAYMOND PEABODY: Thank you. Have a great day, guys.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Our next testimony should be from CAPS. I believe there's someone who is substituting for Randy Collins. If you'd like to come forward and give your name for the record and next after this will be Jen Alexander from ConnCAN.

SUSAN AUSTIN: My name is Susan Austin and I'm the Associate Superintendent of Schools from Stamford Public Schools. Good evening, Representative Fleischmann, and this Committee who have been listening to testimony all day. I've actually made two trips to Stamford and back. I had two teachers with me, who, we will send you their testimony because it comes from their heart and listening to the teachers' heart is the most important thing and they were here to support their hard work in the Common Core and continuing to move forward. That was Sid Watson and also Jen Scanlon, so I hope I can represent them well.

I come to you as a representative of Stamford public schools and our Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Winifred Hamilton. Over the past few years, educators in the United States have been called to action with a sense of urgency to improve the educational system so all students are prepared to be successful in today's global society.

Historically, inconsistencies in academic standards throughout the United States have resulted in great variability in the academic expectations and performance of our students.

For example, a student in Stamford, Connecticut is not necessarily learning the same content as a student in Stamford, California, or in Stamford, UK. Now as a Navy junior, I certainly understand what that feels like.

Stamford public schools is one of the fastest growing city districts in our state, serving 20 schools. We employ 1,400 certified staff, 67 administrators, 325 paraprofessionals and we educate approximately 15,800 students each and every day so that they may be successful in their chosen field when they graduate from Stamford public schools.

We are proud of our rich diversity and talent. We have students from many cultural and socio-economic backgrounds and geographic locations.

Our district strongly and unequivocally supports the Common Core standards and have been aligning our curriculum instruction, and it's ours, curriculum instruction and assessments to these high standards for several years, since 2007, while providing model professional development for our faculty and staff as we go along, and I think that's essential as we've heard about the implementation and the kind of implementation (inaudible) that is so vital in this process.

We commend the exemplary work that teachers, administrators and schools have done to make this paradigm shift, in not only what we are teaching, but how we are teaching.

As a direct result, Stamford public school students have been exposed to more rigorous curriculum than ever before and are challenged to perform at much higher levels.

Can I just wrap it up? Since I've done the commute twice?

If we do not adhere to the work that has been done preparing our students for the 21st century, we will have lost precious time, dismissed the valued work of our teachers and administrators and we will miss the opportunity to compete in the global economy.

With this initiative, Connecticut should take the lead in the nation and be at the top of our national education system.

I would strongly urge you to honor, respect and recognize the work and accomplishments that have taken place in the Stamford public schools and across our state as we continue our mission, and this is our mission in Stamford, in preparing each and every student for higher education and success in the 21st century.

On a personal note, I mentioned the Navy junior. I'm here today because of the Submarine Capital in Groton, New London, and I attended nine schools in six cities in four states, kindergarten through twelfth grade.

There was no common curriculum and there was no commonality place to place. Transitions would have been really particularly tough if it hadn't been for the support of my family.

I have to say that sometimes I was sitting in a classroom where I had already learned the materials and somewhere, some places it was much more challenging. There were gaps and there were overlaps.

Many of our students today face the same thing, the transiency, and especially in our district in Stamford because of family situations and economics and employment. They move from school to school, city to city, town to town.

Unified standards and assessments enable our students to continue learning without gaps and overlaps. In all professions and trades, standards and assessments are used to make sure that, ensure proficiency. Why wouldn't we expect the same for our students? Thank you.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you. I appreciate your testimony and your long drives today. Representative Molgano (inaudible). I just have one simple question for you. So from the outset of your testimony it sounded like there were two Stamford teachers who had originally planned to join you in giving testimony.

So there are some who posited today, that administrators tend to favor these Common Core standards but teachers not so much, because administrators are sort of pushing things from the top down and teachers are having to deal with the changes.

So I'm just wondering if you could let me and the Committee know why you would have had two teachers who would have been interested to come here and join in giving testimony along the lines of yours?

SUSAN AUSTIN: These are two teachers out of the 1,400 and there's another, you know, 1,000 and more that would also say the same. They have done the work, revitalizing the curriculum. They have seen firsthand in the classroom, as have I, the differences in student engagement. Kids are thinking more critically. They're problem solving. They have multiple ways to get to an answer, not just one, not just the teacher's way. There are multiple ways, and they've seen that each and every day in English language arts, in mathematics and in all the disciplines.

We heard from the teacher here all the hard work that she's put into it and the rigor that is happening, and while it's coming to some districts, it feels like it's coming fast and furious because they haven't had as much preparation as we have had. We've had student achieve partners. We've had America's Choice. We've had colleagues from CES and colleagues right within the district. We believe in a train the trainer model, so we have teachers teaching other teachers and coaching all the time.

We have it embedded in the classroom, so you have people going in the classroom modeling lessons and having teachers model back. We send some people out to prestigious colleges, universities and then come back to teach others.

So it's really a work in progress and I've done this for 33 years trying to make this paradigm shift from the days of the TIMSS report, Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, so I know that it's work that is ongoing continuous.

But the professional development as I said, is the most essential ingredient.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you. That's very helpful. Senator Boucher.

SENATOR BOUCHER: Thank you, Madam, Mr. Chair, and thank you Superintendent for the great work that you do in the best profession that there is, the most noble profession for our society and we thank you very much for that.

I don't know in your travels back and forth a couple of times if you were here for Sandra, Dr. Stotsky's testimony.

SUSAN AUSTIN: I was not.

SENATOR BOUCHER: Oh, unfortunate.

SUSAN AUSTIN: But I'm sure I can watch it on CT-N.

SENATOR BOUCHER: You probably can. Well, she raised some concerns. She was on the validation committee and there were two, one in math and one in literature and English that were, that actually didn't sign off on it. They were, they felt that it wasn't up to the standards they felt that should move forward. They were far outnumbered. That was only two out of the entire group.

But she has been very outspoken, and traveled across the country to testify in front of many states concerning her issues.

She mentioned while she was here that the K-5 Common Core standards seemed to be very good but she has serious concerns going forward from that age group and that she felt that they weren't necessarily the high and rigorous standards that everyone is talking about, and that the test didn't align well and that there should be a pause on that until they could revise and make better and include the best educational minds and higher education to look at the math and to also look at some of the other English components to that, and really weigh in on it more deliberatively.

Those were some of the things that she talked about and I was very curious to get your expert reaction to that because I really value your experience and you've had some success.

SUSAN AUSTIN: Actually, curriculum instruction is really K through 12 is under my leadership role, and I have done a lot of work around the state with the National Council Teachers of Mathematics, published and presented. I also teach at the graduate level at Sacred Heart University, a math leadership program and a stem math course, so I am very familiar.

I'm a teacher and I offer professional development all the time myself and I feel that what I have seen happening, but it's a continuous work in progress. We're not there yet by any means, but I have seen much more student engagement.

I also get the opportunity to observe teachers, pre-K teachers and teachers at the high school level for alternative education and I talk to the kids. They say they want more than book learning. They don't want to just listen to a teacher for six hours a day talking to them. They want to be engaged. They want to be able to persuade people. They want to be able to solve the problem in their own way and have discourse with one another.

That's the premise of this good work. So it's not only the content standard, it's those mathematical practices where kids have visual modeling, they have problem solving, they're using tools of the trade, they're using technology.

This is all very important. If we want to move to the future we have got to do things differently than the factory model that we were talking.

SENATOR BOUCHER: Thank you for that response. In her view it seemed like professionals such as yourself were not engaged and involved enough on the development side of this at all and that she felt that there wasn't the flexibility to make the changes that might appear appropriate, and I think that was one of the things she expressed and I don't know if you concur with that?

SUSAN AUSTIN: My 33 years' experience with curriculum instruction is ever changing and it needs to be ever changing. It's a standard almost like a Slinky, where you have to have some ebb and flow and some flexibilities. You set the standards but then you also have to differentiate instructions for each and every child.

You want to see kids make progress, every kid from a child who might need support to a child who has high academic, you know, abilities, and you want everybody to grow.

So I don't know if that answered your question but there is a standard, but then there also has to be flexibility, where constantly, I've seen teachers working at central office in their buildings, constantly creating this curriculum, creating these assessments, trying them out, collaborating with one another and that's how it has to happen. That's the roll out.

SENATOR BOUCHER: Well, it sounds good. Some would question that these Smarter Balance tests allow for that flexibility at all and maybe that's something we should be looking at, and maybe would that be something you would support?

SUSAN AUSTIN: Well, the Smarter Balance, not this year, which is a shame. It's supposed to be an adaptive test, so it is supposed to take kids question to question as they're answering it and be able to monitor and adjust how they answer.

So if they get to a place that's too hard and like back track a little bit, so it really tries to find out where they are in their understanding. It's adaptive. It will be adaptive.

SENATOR BOUCHER: That's the confusion.


SENATOR BOUCHER: Your testimony seems to be different than some of the other statements that were made. So some say it's inflexible. You're saying it should be flexible. The question is, what is it really?

SUSAN AUSTIN: The pilot is done on technology on your computer. It is not adaptive in this first year pilot. It is supposed to be adaptive in the second year pilot.

SENATOR BOUCHER: Thank you for that clarification and thank you, Mr. Chairman.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you. Other questions for the witness? Representative Ackert followed by Representative Molgano, followed by our next witness.

REP. ACKERT: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Thank you, Dr. Austin for your testimony and your passion. I would have loved to have talked to the teachers, but I understand, everybody's, but my question goes to, you talked about you moving around and going from one district to another district, and learning, we talk about standards. We don't teach standards, though, we teach curriculum.


REP. ACKERT: We develop curriculum and we teach to the curriculum. It might be the fact that in these districts they were teaching different curriculum. The standards might have been, you know, similar, we don't know that.

But even in the state now, we have one set of standards that we're going to teach to, I shouldn't say teach to, one of the standards that we're going to be held accountable to or test to, but every one of our districts are going to be creating their own curriculum.

So do you see a problem, or do we, we always want to say, what I want my community to have flexibility with curriculum writing so it sounds like Stamford's done a wonderful job under your leadership.

It's not that same way throughout the state, though, and that's the concern and frustration that I have.

How do we overcome this difference of each of our district's curriculum writing, implementation, keep amending that, getting our teachers on board. How can we understand that we're going to be ready to teach and be very similar as we move from each town to each town?

SUSAN AUSTIN: It's called collaboration, and the fortunate thing is that we have RESCS across our state and ours happens to be CES and I know that Esther Bobowick in leading curriculum instruction at CES is able to pull together curriculum committees. As a matter of fact, we have a meeting on Friday to discuss these things so that we can then network and share and collaborate with one another so that we really are truly understanding, that we're doing things the way that we need to be doing it.

So I would say the collaboration, even across the state and through our RESCS has been a real benefit, and I think that we could do more with that, I do believe.

But these standards at least we're saying, what does a child need to know and be able to do as a kindergartener, as a first grader, and while they're all different, I have four children, they're all very different, we know that that's the set standard and how close are we getting to that standard, and what do we need to do for each and every one because they're individuals. So we have to teach in different ways to meet their needs.

REP. ACKERT: Thank you, and I wish, I have four towns that I serve and they're all different, where they stand and their lack of collaboration, so I serve one little area. They've a very, very good RESC as a matter of fact. EastConn is excellent, but each one of those school districts has the ability to do it their way, and that's where I don't see us on a level playing field when I've heard from some of the district superintendents and then others, you know, not up to the level that districts like yourself and Wallingford and some others.

So thank you for your testimony. Thank you for indulging me.

SUSAN AUSTIN: Thank you.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you, Representative and Representative Molgano.

REP. MOLGANO: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Good evening, Dr. Austin, how are you?

SUSAN AUSTIN: How are you?

REP. MOLGANO: I'm doing fine. Two things. I've heard from parents who have a lot of anxiety.


REP. MOLGANO: And I've heard from parents telling me they're going to keep their kids home on test day.


REP. MOLGANO: What is Stamford doing to engage parents and what is our policy for those parents who are going to decide to keep their children home?

SUSAN AUSTIN: We actually did have a board meeting where parents, seven parents came out from one particular school. They actually said that it wasn't the Common Core that they were against. They appreciated these high standards. They appreciated the engagement that their students were seeing in the classroom, but their concern was the test that, to have their child go through a field test, and you know, what would happen to the results. They had some concerns about that.

So there was some explanations. We've actually done several things. In our city we had something called stone soup and we do this annually and it's, if you know the parable, it's where people bring something to the pot of soup and everybody contributes, and in our city we had stone soup last spring where we had many community members, the school districts, working together on social emotional intelligence, on the academics, so parents could participate in these different workshops and learn more so that they would understand more clearly.

And the Common Core State Standards, our teachers were teaching lessons and showing them what the kids were learning.

We also had a Common Core forum in October and we plan to have another one in the spring and we have a Stemfest in the city, which is going to show you how science technology, engineering and mathematics are tied in with Common Core State Standards. We're taking over Mill River Park.

So really, the important things beside professional development is to bring our parents on board. Parents need to know. Family math nights. Literacy nights. Having them come visit the classrooms. As many ways as possible we need to have parents understand what's happening.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you. Any further questions? If not, thank you very much for your time, your testimony and your long commute, triple commute.

SUSAN AUSTIN: Thank you.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Jen Alexander from CONNCAN to be followed by Jeffrey Villar from the Connecticut Council for Education Forum.

JENNIFER ALEXANDER: Good evening, members of the Committee. Thank you for being here nine hours in and counting and listening to all the testimony before you. My name is Jen Alexander and I'm the CEO at the Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now, which is a nonprofit advocacy organization that's focused on making sure that all kids have access to a high quality school regardless of race, family income or zip code.

And I'm here tonight to speak in opposition to both House Bill 5078 and House Bill 5331. First, because I believe that this bill will undercut the great work that we just heard about that's happening in Stamford and in districts all across our state where educators are working hard to make these standards come alive in their classrooms and believe that it will have a positive impact on their profession and on outcomes for kids.

Before I get into the details, though I did want to talk about this as a mom. I believe that our kids can't wait for the changes that these reforms will introduce. I have two young children who are just starting their education journeys and I want to know that if my daughters keep up their end of the bargain, if they study hard and meet the expectations that are laid out for them each year, that they will be ready to successfully tackle the challenges ahead of them in college, career and life.

And I want objective information about their readiness each year. I don't want to wait until they take the SAT, graduate from high school or go to college to know that there is a problem.

But that's not the reality for far too many children in Connecticut, and that's why I'm testifying here today.

My written testimony highlights right now, too many Connecticut students are graduating from high school unprepared for college level work and require remediation in college. In fact, as I was sitting here getting ready to testify, I looked at my written testimony and did a grade level analysis of the reading level of my written testimony. It's written at about a twelfth grade reading level.

Far too many kids that are graduating from Connecticut high schools today, would not be able to read my written testimony. That's just unacceptable. It's demoralizing for kids and it costs our state millions of dollars. That's why we're moving toward the Common Core State Standards. It's time to raise the bar for everyone.

As we've heard, this is very hard work. Make no mistake about that, but it's time to support those who are doing that work and move forward. A moratorium would undercut all that hard work and our children cannot wait.

Efforts like the bills being considered today would be a huge step backwards for our kids and for our state. They are also unnecessary. The state has already adjusted its implementation plans to increase educator input about implementation and to allow flexibility for districts to implement these reforms carefully and deliberately while not losing sight of our long-term goals of raising standards, demanding accountability for results, and improving outcomes for kids. Thank you.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you. Are there questions from members of the Committee? Senator Boucher.

SENATOR BOUCHER: Thank you very much, Mr. Chair, and thank you also very much for your hard work in advocating for all children to get a great education. It's made a difference here in Connecticut over the years. Your predecessor as well was well known and you've continued that good work.

Were you here for most of the day?

JENNIFER ALEXANDER: I was. I was listening in one of the rooms.

SENATOR BOUCHER: And you heard Dr. Stotsky come and speak to us about the concern about whether this truly is higher standards or not and some of the testimony that produced some questions and lack of real clarity or answers about whether there is a way to judge and to measure whether this is going to actually produce a better outcome than what we're experiencing now --


SENATOR BOUCHER: -- because there was no control group. There hasn't, we're kind of experimenting as we go and we lay it out.


SENATOR BOUCHER: What would, what would your response be to both Dr. Stotsky and to those that are concerned about the fact that there's no, there's a lack of measurement, and I know you're very big on measurement.

JENNIFER ALEXANDER: So it's a few things. One is, Dr. Stotsky was a minority among the many who were involved in getting those standards. I don't agree with some of what she said about the rigor of the standards.

For example, she talked a lot about the math standards and then not preparing kids to be ready for algebra. In fact, the standards were specifically designed so that kids mastered a basic math concept so they are ready for algebra by grade eight, and I would be happy to share information on that afterwards.

I also think, though, that I deeply respect the feedback that I'm hearing and that we've seen from educators all over the state who believe that the work that they are doing on Common Core will transform their profession, that it is worth the hard work that they are going through, that these standards are more rigorous and allow them to get deeper into content, allowed our kids to master the kind of critical thinking skills that they're going to need for college and for careers of the future.

And I also know, just from the development of the Common Core that those standards were benchmarked against other countries that we respect that are outpacing us in terms of their own academic achievement.

And if you look at where we are right now, it's simply unacceptable and we have to do more.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Representative Lavielle.

REP. LAVIELLE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Good evening, Jen. Thank you for your patience.

I think we all are completely on the same page in terms of where we are, all of this need for remediation, all of this lack of a high level of literacy and so on and so forth. I don't think there's any doubt there.

Where I am, I come out of, haven't come out yet, but when I come out of this day or night, one of the things that will stick with me is, regardless of how it balances out, there's a great disparity between the views of this whole exercise within each stakeholder group, by the way.

There are those who really think this is it, this is the summum of what we can attain in terms of higher standards and eventual higher outcomes, and there are others who are deeply skeptical if not outright unconvinced and opposed.

So I just wondered, what do you think accounts for that? What do you think is really behind it?

JENNIFER ALEXANDER: So, thank you for that question. I think there's a couple of things. One, I think this is a pretty big change that we're asking our system to undertake and any kind of change of this magnitude creates anxiety for all of those involved.

And I think some of what we're seeing now is, I heard a lot of information that was, unfortunately, not accurate tonight. There's a lot of misinformation about what these standards are and are not, and that kind of misinformation is only adding fuel to the existing anxiety about this massive change.

And I think all of us who are involved in this, including my organization, bear a responsibility for getting better information out to all of us who are affected by this so that we're more clear about what these standards are and what they're not.

I also think that part of what we are experiencing now is a little bit of a hangover from the previous iteration of standards-based accountability, which was frankly based on low-level standards and low-level tests and this whole initiative was designed to be a departure from that effort.

But because of, I think the bad experiences that many had under the previous version of standards-based accountability, you're seeing some of the hangover from that in the discussion that's happening right now and we have to just sort of try our best to get through the next couple of years implementing this, what I believe to be a foundational reform and make changes as we need to, but not give up on the goal here.

REP. LAVIELLE: And from that point of view you would still be opposed to giving us the time necessary.

JENNIFER ALEXANDER: The bill that's being considered today is a moratorium that would stop all work on these standards and I think that's totally unnecessary and flies in the face of the work that we just heard about from the previous testifier and that's happening all over the state.

And you know, as part of a group that spoke this morning from folks all over the state and one woman said that educators and principals all over the state are so dedicated to this that even if there were a moratorium, they would want to continue this work because they believe so deeply in it.

REP. LAVIELLE: Thank you very much. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you. Others? Representative Kokoruda followed by the next witness. Followed by Representative Walko briefly and then the next witness.

REP. KOKORUDA: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Jen, thank you. You know when I was, just before we walked in today I ran into an associate of yours and she said, well, this time we're on different sides of the issue.

And you know, it's really unfortunate that it's framed that way because as you well remember three years ago when we were talking reform in this building, almost just about everybody around this table, everyone worked to move that reform. And several times during the process I thought it was going to die and it didn't because I think people around this table, and I'm looking at a few of them, kept it going and we supported it.

But I have to tell you, we've heard today again and again and maybe the bill as presented, maybe you know, the idea that we said a moratorium is a mistake as I listen to all this public hearing, but you said that your kids can't wait, and I agree, and all of us feel that way.

But just as importantly as them not waiting, we all want to get it right, and that's a big concern right now. And you can have, you can talk to educators that tell you it's just great and they're going to keep it going anyway, but we're hearing from a lot of educators that don't feel that way, and administrators.


REP. KOKORUDA: And so as part of a whole coalition of reform groups, and I know you've got your (inaudible) or whatever, who's done some great work, could you comment on what we and you, all of us, could have done to make this roll out better, because that's what we're really talking about. That's the problem is the roll out and how this was implemented and what, being Monday morning quarterback, what would you do differently and suggest that we do differently to turn this around?

JENNIFER ALEXANDER: So, thanks for that question. I think a couple of things. One is, I think it's really unfortunate that there's a lot of misinformation about these standards, so I wish that we had been much more clear with everybody right from the front about what these standards were and weren't.

I think that it's important to remember that the State Board of Education adopted these standards four years ago, so we're having a conversation four years after the standards were adopted.

You've heard from districts that have from the get go been working hard to get ready for this change, and I think that those districts that have more positive things to say are likely those districts that began to do this work right away.

I think what we're doing now in terms of providing essentially a two-year grace period for districts where they will be allowed to adjust to this change is smart and we need to use that two-year grace period wisely, providing loss, as you've heard over and over again today, professional development and support to those who are expected to implement it.

I was really appalled to hear well, one, encouraged to hear about the teacher who had been doing such great work at her high school level but appalled to hear that she had not received any professional development.

So we have to use this two-year period wisely and provide the kind of training and support that teachers need. I know that both teacher unions for example, have established websites where teachers can go on and share Common Core line lessons and get professional development, and need to build on that kind of support.

And look very hard at whether there are small but practical changes that could be made. And I think we've heard some of these today and I'd be happy to talk more about them off line if you really want to get into the policies.

I think we can get there by making smart adjustments, but what we're talking about today is basically halting everything, which I think would be really harmful.

I also just think, and kind of this gets back to Representative Lavielle's question, too. We need to be very careful to understand that this is part of an overall approach that the state is taking.

Common Core State Standards are not the silver bullet that is going to solve all of our problems. It is one part of an overall solution and you know, there are a lot more things that need to happen to make sure our kids are going to be ready.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Representative Walko.

REP. WALKO: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you for your testimony. So doing just a little research, going to your organization's website, it lists a couple of surveys that claim to support the notion that teachers are in favor, teachers in Connecticut are in favor of Common Core doing that.

But digging a little deeper on those surveys, one of the questions is, do you believe that states should institute some type of moratorium or grace period on accountability provisions tied to the new Common Core state assessments. Ninety-seven to three said yes, versus no.

So would you --

JENNIFER ALEXANDER: What survey was that?

REP. WALKO: This was quoting from the survey off of your website, I guess it's the Greenberg, Quinlan, Rosner one, which is the February, 2014 survey.


REP. WALKO: So my understanding it's of Connecticut teachers.

JENNIFER ALEXANDER: That's for CEA survey of about 1,500 teachers.

REP. WALKO: And so would you agree with that statement? Do you agree with the ninety-seven teachers, that at least according to this survey, believe in some type of moratorium or grace period?

JENNIFER ALEXANDER: So I am not a methodologist on surveys, but I do know that we have a lot more than 1,500 teachers in the State of Connecticut, so I don't know whether that's a representative sample.

But I also know that there are a lot of other favorable findings about the Common Core standards in that very same survey, and again, I think we have to ask ourselves, when lots of misinformation is being spread about these standards, adding to existing anxiety about this massive change, and then you're asked, would you rather make this change or would you rather go back to where you were before?

Most people are going to want to go back to where they were before. Change is not fun. Change is great until it happens to you, and so no, I don't agree with the findings of that question.

REP. WALKO: You've testified, you've said it a couple of times that there's a lot of misinformation. What would be the number one piece of misinformation that you think is out there that is clouding the conversation?

JENNIFER ALEXANDER: Well, one that we've heard a lot tonight is that there is a curriculum mandated. Common Core State Standards are simply a set of expectations for what kids need to know and be able to do at each grade level.

All curriculum and professional development decisions are made at the local level, so what is taught and how it's taught, and how teachers are trained, those are all decisions that are being made at the local level.

And frankly, if we want to have a conversation, I think we need to have a conversation about how are we preparing teachers and how are we training administrators to be able to handle this kind of change and this kind of a system and are we attracting training and retaining the kind of professionals that we need to manage this level of change.

REP. WALKO: Thank you for your comments. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you. Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE: Hi, Jen, how are you?


SENATOR BYE: I just have to follow up on Representative Walko. I wasn't going to slow us down but I can't help it. He mentioned a survey that said, 97 percent of teachers are asking to delay the time of Smarter Balance assessments to their evaluation.


SENATOR BYE: And my, that's, go ahead.

REP. WALKO: Can I just clarify? The way I read the survey it's 97 people.

SENATOR BYE: And how many, out of?

REP. WALKO: Again, this is just coming from a link from their survey.

SENATOR BYE: You said Greenberg.

REP. WALKO: It says February 4 to February 20, 2014 there's 1,452 members. It looks like 99 individuals took the, gave answers.

SENATOR BYE: And 97 said they --


SENATOR BYE: Yeah, I know, anybody can question the survey, but certainly we've all been at meetings with teachers, and there's like you said, there's a lot of misinformation out there. There's a lot of concern.

I don't think you need to characterize that teachers aren't wanting to decouple those things until we figure this out. Is that --

JENNIFER ALEXANDER: Yeah, yeah, you know --

SENATOR BYE: -- would you say that's accurate.

JENNIFER ALEXANDER: -- actually when I. Let me back up.


JENNIFER ALEXANDER: Yes, there is a lot of anxiety about moving forward with these two changes at the same time, the Common Core State Standards and the teacher evaluations, which is why we essentially have a two-year grace period so that the results from the new Common Core line tasks are essentially decoupled from teacher evaluations for the next two years.

I think that's the right move. I think that's a smart compromise that allows us to responsibly move forward with these two things, because people want to know that they're going to be evaluated in a fair way.

SENATOR BYE: And I think (inaudible) --

JENNIFER ALEXANDER: And I agree with that change.

SENATOR BYE: Okay. Okay.

JENNIFER ALEXANDER: I was not implying --


JENNIFER ALEXANDER: That's why I moved forward with those things right away and I agree with the decisions that have been made by all of the stakeholders that were at the table in the development of the evaluation system itself, which I observed from the beginning of those meetings.

SENATOR BYE: Right. So I just want to be clear.

JENNIFER ALEXANDER: Thanks. Thank you for asking.

SENATOR BYE: Because it sounded like you were saying teachers don't mind them being decoupled --

JENNIFER ALEXANDER: Yeah, I actually heard that as do we want a complete moratorium on the Common Core State Standards.

SENATOR BYE: Got it. And it's not Common Core for me. I just --


SENATOR BYE: -- do think there's a lot of concern about the Smarter Balance and --


SENATOR BYE: -- being used to undermine competence and so, thank you.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you. Other questions of the witness? If not, thank you very much for your time, your testimony, your research and your patience.


REP. FLEISHMANN: Jeffrey Villar of Connecticut Council for Education Reform, to be followed by Bill Phillips.

JEFFREY VILLAR: Good evening, Representative Fleischmann, Senator Bye and the esteemed members of the Education Committee. It's my pleasure to be here and wait nine and a half hours to talk to you. I think it's that important.

The Connecticut Council of Education Reform strongly opposes H.B. 5331 and House Bill 5078. I have submitted written testimony and I'm going to focus my three-minute comments, particularly on 5078, given the fact that I'm an ex-superintendent of two different districts. I was a deputy superintendent in Meriden and responsible for curriculum instruction and that's where I did my doctorate work as well. So I feel very strongly and passionately about curriculum.

Clearly the argument has been made for higher standards today. I don't think there's a lot of disagreement about that, so I will again refer to my comments in written testimony.

But I do think it's important to point out, and I heard the Commissioner of Education testify to this fact, that the Common Core standards that were adopted July 7, 2010 by the Connecticut State Board of Education through an effective process were vetted and they were vetted through Connecticut educators and they were vetted nationally, through, with the collaboration of educators, so teachers were involved in that.

So it's very important to make sure we understand that, and our major teachers groups both supported the Common Core 100 percent in 2010, so it's again, we know that these are valid and important quality standards to base our education upon.

What's really important to know, that there's just that. These are targets, so the most important thing here is the curriculum development that happened as a result of the change of the standards, and that's the work that has been underway in various districts since 2010 and moving forward.

And clearly, there's different levels of implementation that's happened across the state, and that is, I think, one of the major concerns that I've heard today that sat here.

What I would like to speak to around implementation is, one hinges on district capacity, clearly, and in the districts where they have the capacity, both the knowledge and know-how to work with standards, and we've heard from some folks tonight that were just truly impressive with their knowledge of the standards and the development of curriculum.

In those districts, they work collaboratively with their teachers because when you write curriculum, I know no other way to do it well, but to involve professional educators. Teachers have to be at the table to do that work.

In my last district where we implemented Common Core standards in K through 12 in language arts and mathematics, while we piloted the education and evaluation system that's also under discussion today, we were very successful in that work because we worked very closely with our teachers' association. We worked with our teachers and with our principals collaborating around what was the quality curriculum that's necessary to make sure our students can achieve the high levels.

Through doing that with multiple meetings and lots of conversation, we were successful moving forward and I feel that district is prepared for the upcoming assessments that would be in our way, the SBAC.

And to speak about that just very briefly, many districts across Connecticut are using currently, the Measures of Academic Progress, which is an adaptive computer-based assessment that children are taking K through 12 in many districts.

When I implemented that in my last district, I made a point of going watching the kindergarteners take this adaptive test, and it's fascinating to see these children, some four and five years old, sitting with the headphones, engaged in a computer taking assessment.

And I made a point of asking the teachers, you know, how is this going, because I figured that would be the one area we would be concerned. And the teachers expressed their shock that these kids are really engaged and they're doing a super job.

So I think that moving to a modern assessment, which will give us better results in a more timely way is going to help improve our profession.

I know I'm out of time, but I certainly would like to answer any questions you may have.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you for your testimony and your patience. Certainly, your last remarks about the small children taking the test on the computer matches my experience of small children trying to steal my Smart Phone so they can play as many games as they possibly can. Are there questions or comments? Representative Ackert.

REP. ACKERT: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and Jeffrey, good to see you and I know we've been missing each other meeting, and we're still going to have that meeting.


REP. ACKERT: But you brought up a good point, and on the assessment component. Dr. Austin earlier talked about Stamford and doing the Smarter Balance assessment testing, but she said the adaptive component is not in place at this time, and then you just mentioned the adaptive component in your testimony in terms of it's kind of research as a student answers, depending on what level they are, it will assess that and move them to an appropriate question.

So she had mentioned it wasn't ready at being adapted, not until next year. So are you working on two different existing models or are you in a different test mode?

JEFFREY VILLAR: No. Actually the measures of academic progress is a completely different assessment and many districts have adopted it across the State of Connecticut.

Essentially what it is, is benchmark assessment, so you'll give an assessment in early September, one mid-winter and then one in the spring. The magic of adaptive assessment in many ways is that it allows you to see where a child is, so not just a big hit to standard, but if they're well above the standard you're going to find that out and if they're well below you're going to find that out.

And in these type of assessments they also can break down to, in what particular curricula areas do these students struggle, and then you can take those outputs and help direct the instruction in a classroom, give the teacher more specific information about what the kids in front of them need.

REP. ACKERT: Thank you, and I thank you for your testimony and the understanding of different. That was different than what Dr. Austin was talking about earlier, then.

JEFFREY VILLAR: Well, with the SBAC, the other distinction is, this year's a field test. Primarily, it's about the mechanism of delivering the online assessment in mass.

I mean, from a technological perspective you're talking about a large volume of children accessing a test --

REP. ACKERT: Uh-huh.

JEFFREY VILLAR: -- through a network, so you're looking at band width and router capacity, et cetera. So that is essentially the major goal this year.

Now I know that they've also added common items so that they can also give informative information about district performance, so they are trying to meet that objective as well. But the tests will not be fully constructed until the second year, and then in the second year is when the adaptive phase is anticipated to be available for us, and that's truly where the magic will be.

Again, as a former superintendent, you want that data as soon as possible, right? So currently, in the CMT world, we wait when we do the test in March and you wait until about July. That's a long time in the life of a child and a school system.

We know that when we, with math, for example, we can get those results back in several weeks. With the SBAC we're talking about narrowing that window at least in half from what we currently have with the CMT.

So the idea is, we're going to get better information. We're going to get it sooner. Clearly, it has to be constructed and it's going to take time for that and this year is in fact the field test, so it is the first step of that process.

REP. ACKERT: Thank you, Jeffrey. Appreciate your testimony. Look forward to getting a meeting with you and I believe we're going to get the results of this year's test next year, so.

JEFFREY VILLAR: Absolutely. This is going to take quite some time. Again, it's a field test.

REP. ACKERT: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you. Senator Boucher.

SENATOR BOUCHER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you for your answers to some questions. You raised some very important points, however.

I am a bit flabbergasted that the Smarter Balance tests have been rolled out before all of this was completed. In fact, it seems to be in process now when in the professional world, and some of us have to take tests every two years for a professional certification. I have to do one every three years and that test already has imbedded in there that if you don't get it at the first try, it will take you back a few notches and gets you to another aspect of the test to build in that understanding, and then it goes on to the next test or question and phase.

You would think the education arena would be first and foremost in that area. There's so much that can be done, not just in helping someone get an understanding of a math principle where the test really is helpful to the education process, but it should also be customized to those that are academically advanced so it takes them further, and those that have special needs and learning disabilities to take them further to a more simple level.

Those tests I'm just concerned that we just seem to be at the very beginning phases of that and that here we have this very big, massive national experiment going on and we're putting in and building this curriculum and then we have these tests.

And I think if it weren't for some of this opposition that has been occurring that that slow down and that ability to delay would not have occurred. I think that this has really spawned that cry for a delay so that it can catch up.

In other words, the curriculum can catch up to, or the tests can really be useful in the process.

JEFFREY VILLAR: My characterization would be that I think there's a massive amount of misinformation around the Common Core State Standards and that in fact, is what is causing folks to be so quite concerned.

The assessment that is being created to measure students' progress on that is an ambitious effort. Creating adaptive tests is very difficult. Creating any psychometrically accurate assessment takes a great deal of time. With the CMT every year, Connecticut students were taking a supplemental test, which was part of the test development, right, so students have to take items and each item has to be carefully measured, to measure in fact that it measures what it thinks it's measuring, right, so that's a pretty complex process.

So the development past that is predictive and adaptive over multiple grade levels in two major content areas is a huge undertaking and it's being done by a consortium of experts. So it's going to take a great deal of time.

I would say that implementation of curriculum, however, is nothing new in education. This is not a new initiative in that sense. It's an expectation in education that curriculum is revised regularly. The work that is being done, although is difficult, because now we're really raising the standard in expectation.

Curriculum writing work is something that's been happening in every district for decades and there are processes that are in place. There are procedures that can be followed and so, not all of it's new, and not all of the curriculum that's being developed is completely new.

The first things that districts did was, they took a look at the old standards and the old curriculum that existed and the new standards and said, what do we need to change? What do have to remove? So it's not like everything just changes overnight. There is a great deal of alignment also, and so I think that's important to understand.

You know, schools aren't just going to stop one day and move to the next. There's a great deal of development that's been put into place and it's a process that's ongoing, continuous.

SENATOR BOUCHER: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Would you agree then that delaying is a good thing for the process right now in the testing phase?

JEFFREY VILLAR: Absolutely not. Delaying would be throwing a wrench into a system that exists in education that's been finely tuned. Curriculum development goes on as a process, and if we were to legislatively inject a brake into that and say, you must stop that development work that you're undertaking, all that professional development that you've focused, those resources that you've selected and vetted through your board of education you must stop and not do that. I think that would be highly unproductive.

SENATOR BOUCHER: I think you misinterpreted. I was talking not about delaying the development and implementation of curriculum or Common Core curriculum. I'm talking about the testing that's supposed to align with something that's still in process.

JEFFREY VILLAR: Well, the development of assessments is a separate piece as you can see how in my response to curriculum is one. The development of the assessments has to be field tested. It will be field tested. I mean, that is happening. It's going to happen next week. I think that's a great thing.

I think the sooner that we embrace the use of technology for its power, for the information it can give us about our students, the sooner we can begin to close the achievement gap, because quite frankly, the way you do that is individual. It's about every student. It's what that child needs. It's how do you make curriculum work for every kid and that's why our teachers need good information.

They'll make good decisions about what children need and they'll deliver good instruction. So I think the faster we can get to that assessment the better off we are.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you. Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE: Very briefly. Thank you. You gave a very good synopsis. But my question is very specific and I'm going to ask you to answer as briefly as possible.

I've heard from parents and teachers who take assessment seriously about the lost time this year, losing prep days before exams, you know, AP exams. No information is coming back to the schools about the individual students to inform their instruction and you know, you talked about routers, this field test is important to see capacity, blah, blah, blah, blah, et cetera, et cetera.

Is there some other way than taking four instructional days out of a year of only 184 days to field test this on some kind of sub sample?

I mean we really have parents opting out and really frustrated, although it's been a fight to opt out, probably harder than it should be for them.

But can you just answer that briefly about, do we really need a field test on everyone because none of the data is being used? So how do we, how do I answer those parents?

JEFFREY VILLAR: Well, my understanding is in fact when the State Department of Education presented districts, and I was a superintendent at the time when this choice was given to us, you could choose the SBAC or you could choose CMT and a large majority said no, we want to go to the future and we're going to choose the SBAC.

My understanding is, part of that was a commitment on the part of the consortium that they would in fact, include items in the assessment that would be helpful and informative to the state in measuring progress of our districts.

SENATOR BYE: So we're helping how the state measured progress in districts. How is it helping the students and the teachers this day taking four days out?

JEFFREY VILLAR: Well, you know, honestly assessment serves many multiple purposes and I think you touch on an important part. Whenever you use an assessment in a district you have to weigh that balance.

I think it is critically important as a state and as a district to know to what extent are you in fact aligned with the expectations right with the standards and where do you need to improve.

So having a measure now as how far along you are on that I think could actually be very helpful for districts, because --

SENATOR BYE: Well, for the district administrators, but not for the teachers and their kids this year. That's the complaint, so that's what I'm saying. What do I tell the parents who say I don't want my kids to be lap test, they're gone, they're juniors. Next year they're out, so it has no meaning to those kids, or the teachers teaching them this year trying to get them ready for other standardize exams. So, you don't need to answer that.

I hear what you're saying. I'm just saying, I think my parents have a valid point. The parents and teachers I'm talking to about the kids taking it this year who are juniors.

JEFFREY VILLAR: It's definitely a difficult process changing to a new system. There's no doubt about it.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Senator Bartolomeo.

SENATOR BARTOLOMEO: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Hi, Dr. Villar.


SENATOR BARTOLOMEO: I just want to ask two quick things. One is that you mentioned that the number of districts that chose to do the SBAC. But it was my understanding, and maybe you can correct me if I'm wrong, but it wouldn't make sense to do the CMT or the CAPS because they don't align and they don't correlate to the Common Core, that was my understanding and that the SBAC is one of just a couple of tests that we chose the SBAC.

But that if you do CMT or CAPS it's not going to matter because it doesn't, it's like apples to oranges. Is that correct?

JEFFREY VILLAR: Well, again, it's an individual district, it was an individualized district decision because I think the Commissioner and the State Department recognized that it would depend on how far down the road you are in complete implementation as to how aligned you are with one assessment or the other, and so I think that factored into folks' decisions.

SENATOR BARTOLOMEO: Okay. I see what you're saying. And other states are field testing the SBAC. Is there any, we've talked a lot and heard a lot about cooperation and working together in different districts collaborating.

Is there any kind of statewide collaboration that you're aware of so that you know, we can benefit from the results that are seen in the New York SBAC or is that an idea that just doesn't make sense?

JEFFREY VILLAR: Well, the Smarter Balance Consortium is a group of states that work together to actually develop tests, so that in and of itself is the collaboration.

SENATOR BARTOLOMEO: The collaboration of results. If we're field testing to get those results but yet we have, as Senator Bye was saying, we have a contingent whose not wanting to participate in that, but yet we need the numbers to validate the tests.

So is there an effort nationally with those states who are field testing the SBAC to collaborate results so that we have a bigger pool by which to validate the test results?

JEFFREY VILLAR: I do believe yes. The Consortium needs that pool to validate the test results. I mean, that's a very important part of what they're doing. They're structuring this very carefully so that psychometrically that it works out.

To the point of how does it help the individual child is the more difficult component. We know there's federal legislation that says you have to test every child in the mandated grade levels, so that is a requirement we have.

The difficulty that we all recognize is how do you take that to actual results for each child and it is going to be a delay in the responses and I wish I could tell you that wasn't the case.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you. Any other questions of Dr. Villar? If not, thank you very much for your time and your testimony.

JEFFREY VILLAR: My pleasure. Thank you. Have a good evening.

REP. FLEISHMANN: You, too. Mr. Bill Phillips to be followed by Bogdan Oprica to be followed by Mary Burnham.

BILL PHILLIPS: Mr. Chairman, Madam Vice-Chair, respective members of the Committee. Thank you for having me. I'm Bill Phillips. I'm President of the Northeast Charter Schools Network. I represent charter schools in Connecticut and New York.

I'm here to discuss our opposition to House Bill 5078. Typically when people talk about charter schools they tend to focus on choice, which makes sense. The parent choosing is fundamental.

But it's probably more accurate to talk about charter schools as a mix of choice and standards. It's the standards that actually provide the framework for the choosing. It's how the parents actually understand whether or not they're making a better choice.

That framework actually also matters, the standards framework also matters for the state, as it's how the state tells whether or not the charter has actually lived up to its promises. Remember charter schools go based on closure, based accountability, so those standards matter a lot to us and actually makes, it makes good standards critically important to chartering.

To put this most simply, we view the Common Core as an improvement over what previously existed. We think it paints a clearer picture of what our kids need to be college ready and career ready. The vast majority of our schools do not want to delay on the implementation of the Common Core.

Now, I'd like to take a moment to talk a little bit about consequences, the high stakes consequences, which I would argue actually are the real issue, and I also would like to, I mentioned to you that we represent schools in Connecticut and New York, I'd like to use our experience in New York to hopefully illuminate things.

I actually think that what Connecticut has done could be compared favorably, frankly.

Like Connecticut, New York has been making a lot of changes at the same time. So we implemented the Common Core. We implemented the evaluations. We implemented the new tests.

The piece about the new tests, we actually did our first round of tests last year. Our State Education Department got criticized for that. We actually thought doing the tests early was a good thing. No matter how much you think you're prepared for the implementations of the standards, you're just never as far along as you think you are, and what those tests did is, they told us, you know, where we were on our implementation.

You probably won't be shocked to hear that we were not as far along as we thought we were. We had a whole lot of problems.

Where we got in trouble in New York is, we did a very poor job of disconnecting the consequences from the implementation of the new tests. We had basically teachers in schools that were going to be facing high stake consequences based on base line testing.

I mention that because I actually think that is the exact thing that this, I need about 30 seconds. That's the exact thing, thank you, that's the exact thing that the state got right here, when you decoupled for two years the tests from the consequences, it was really a back (inaudible) move. You dealt with the one thing that was the problem.

Now, I also think as much as we prefer our schools to take the tests sooner rather than later, I thought the fact that you gave the schools a year to make their choice was actually very flexible as well.

Although we don't want to delay in the Common Core, I just want to be clear. We think this is incredibly hard work. We're struggling just as much as the district schools, but the bottom line is we think the Common Core is better for our kids and we hope you stay the current path.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you very much for your testimony and your patience. Are there questions from members of the Committee? If not, I have just one for you.

I spoke to someone who leads some schools in the City of New York who said to me essentially, the scores that we got on the new tests last spring were, came as a bit of a shock --


REP. FLEISHMANN: -- but we welcome the challenge. We think it's a good thing because we figured out some things that we thought we were on track for that we're not and so we're revamping a lot of our curriculum and lesson plans and we're going to do better next year and our kids are going to be better, and they weren't doing as well as we thought they were.

These new tests are harder and they're showing us more about where we can achieve more academic growth. So that was kind of surprising because you wouldn't normally expect a school leader who's just gotten a set of bad test results to say that.

I'm just wondering to what degree that set of views matches up with your network?

BILL PHILLIPS: That actually is a great, you know, I heard that consistently. Let me paint a little bit of a picture what happened.

So, you know, the test scores that came back, basically the state average was in the thirties in New York and what you would find is, when our school leaders started to look at the tests, things that they thought you know, used to be fifth grade were fourth grade, so they didn't have their curriculum aligned where they thought it should be.

One of the other things that we noticed, I think which actually gave us some confidence in the test, and one of the Senators asked before about SBAC versus, New York has actually taken the PARC, so unfortunately, there are two consortia. New York did the PARC and obviously, Connecticut does the SBAC.

Yeah, but one of the things that came back that I think actually helped us is the level of performance on the state tests, the scoring in the thirties. It actually matched what we were seeing from colleges on remediation. So basically about 30 percent of our kids did not need remediation in college and so for the first time the test scores were actually matching what we were seeing for remediation.

And I think a lot of our folks felt like, okay, we're telling, you know, this is bracing. It was very hard, but at least now we know we're telling our kids the truth as to where they are and we just know we have a lot of work.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you. And it's been ten hours that we've been here, but that's the first time I've heard about a link between the scores on these new tests and the need for remediation in college.


REP. FLEISHMANN: So I'm glad I hung in there. Other questions?


REP. FLEISHMANN: And I appreciate your (inaudible). Other comments or questions from members of the Committee? If not, thank you very much for your testimony and your patience.

BILL PHILLIPS: I appreciate the questions and I appreciate you guys hanging in there. Take care.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Bogdan Oprica followed by Mary Burnham.


REP. FLEISHMANN: If I understand correctly, you may be the third member of your family testifying tonight, so you hit the triple play, welcome.

BOGDAN OPRICA: Yes, thank you, and first of all I want to start by thanking you for allowing us, the people of the State of Connecticut to have a voice, to have the opportunity to speak.

I want to speak as a member of that group of people of Connecticut, the 99 percent if you will, if you remember the terminology that was big just a little while ago, so having that opportunity for us to speak, us, the 99 percent is tremendous, so we really appreciate that.

Historically our state has had many communities that have achieved great educational results and the blanket approach that the Common Core is forcing upon our state essentially is asking us to invest millions of dollars into those communities that really don't need our help, that are achieving well above what the country as a whole and many international benchmarks are achieving.

So we're taking money from the inner, and I'm a graduate of Bloomfield High School. We're taking money that could be spent in our schools that are performing under any benchmark you want to use and using it for schools that don't need that. Schools like Avon, Connecticut.

And I'd like to, just an example. I remember. I think they won some sort of achievement very recently, a school in Avon, and they won it because their scores were lower and they won it because the achievement gap was therefore lower. The bottom scores didn't change. The top scores went down and they want some sort of recognition.

And I want to alert the people of Connecticut that this is not the type of closing of the gap we want, because we're not helping the schools that really need the help.

And I don't know how more rigorous standards will help those schools that need the help.

So hopefully we'll open our eyes and ask the people of Connecticut to please open your eyes and in one way to look at what's right for us by looking who's on which side of this debate.

I haven't seen the whole proceedings here, but from what I've seen the people speaking on behalf of the Common Core were all dressed in business suits for the most part, you know, white men.

And people like us are the people like parents, like teachers, who are closer to the kids, who care about their future. Those are the people I saw speaking against Common Core. Okay?

So if you talk about some of the people who did come and speak, they talked about the corporate interests that are behind the Common Core. Again, you're got the corporate interests and you've got people in suits representing some bureaucracies that we don't know, so that's one thing I wanted to point out to the people of our state.

The other thing is that the architect who's built this Common Core doesn't seem to align with how children learn. My daughter wrote her speech and I'm very proud of her and she wrote what she wrote and what I'm hearing from my children is, they're asked to do the same thing over and over again, repetitive.

Children, I think, yearn to learn new things and diverse things. If you read the Common Core standards in their website is they want to teach fewer topics. If you look at the mathematics one, fewer topics. They want to narrow the focus and they want to do things over and over again for our children and they're getting frustrated and they're getting bored, and you've heard that from many of the people in the audience.

REP. FLEISHMANN: If you could please wrap up.

BOGDAN OPRICA: Yes. So, I just ask, please do your homework. Please research this because it doesn't dovetail with how children learn and we're heading toward a very bad place.

I don't care about the implementation, short-term problems. If these were growing pains, I'd be all for it. But these are not growing pains. These are symptoms of a disease, of an implementation of something that doesn't work well with how children learn. That's my concern, about where we're ending.


BOGDAN OPRICA: Thank you very much for this opportunity.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Are there questions from members of the Committee? If not, I thank you and I just want you to know that there are people who have to wear jackets and ties to work, who are parents and aunts and uncles and grandparents and I don't work for a corporation and I'm wearing a suit and tie out of respect for the office that I hold, but my children are in public schools like yours, so I just wanted you to not necessarily go after people on the basis of the fact that they're forced to wear a monkey suit.

BOGDAN OPRICA: Not at all. I have to do that once in a while, too. I really appreciate your time. Thank you very much for holding this hearing.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you. That's our job. Mary Burnham, to be followed by Lisa Simo-Kinzer.

MARY BURNHAM: Good evening. I know what the Common Core is. I have an app. Common Core. Just read it again this morning, especially for kindergarten.

My name is Mary Burnham. I live in Newtown. I know Senator Bye quite well. I know Michelle Cook even better.

At any rate, here's, I'm not even going to read my testimony. You have it. I am going to cover a few points that I didn't cover in my testimony.

The Commissioner said that we're going to be, you know, career and college ready. I want to know how he knows it because these Common Core have not been tested. They haven't been piloted. I want to know that you all are going to guarantee me that my grandchildren, two of them live in this state, my son wrote you some testimony, that they will actually be doing better in life when they graduate from Cheshire, that's where they live.

So, I don't think we know it. If we knew it, I'd feel much more comfortable.

My bigger concern as an early childhood person, and I think at your last hearing on the 28th, a few of you, even Senator Fleischmann mentioned it, I know that Beth did, that there's concern about the early years in the Common Core. Again, I used to teach kindergarten in Westport. I have a master's from Bank Street.

I have major concerns. My granddaughter is now in kindergarten in probably one of the most developmentally appropriate kindergartens in the state, and she, who is an old kindergartener because she went there when she was six and very advanced in terms of reading and so on, feels a great deal of stress from this.

They are not play based. When the gentleman was here and talking about kindergarteners being on computers, that doesn't make an early childhood person feel very happy. That's not what kindergarteners should be doing.

They should be playing. They should be learning through play. Yes, intentional teaching. That's not what is happening in our kindergarten any more, and I am very, very concerned about it.

You mentioned that we have to go by the FRAP laws. We do? I'll go quickly. Senator Markey from Massachusetts had major concerns about the changes. He sent them to Arnie Duncan. Arnie Duncan has answered them and he has now proposed a law to put them back the way they were because he's very concerned about the data (inaudible). I have his letter if you want to read it. I have both of them.

Why you're getting a push back right now? Because this thing was never done right. It was passed in 2010 mainly adopted because of Race to the Top, but parents are just getting it. We're just getting it. And superintendents, I talked to Beth about a year ago when I heard from superintendents that they felt like they were flying the airplane while it was being built.

REP. FLEISHMANN: If you could please summarize.

MARY BURNHAM: So, wrapping up. We need clear policy and procedures for parents regarding what data collection is being given on their children, who has control of it and every parent should have the option of where that information is being sent and they should have to sign off on, here's the data that we're collecting and here's what you are signing off on.

We need clear policies and procedures for the state test and that parents should have the option to opt out again signing I want my kid to take it, signing I don't.

We also need to keep local control in this state like we have and teacher evaluations should be constructed and productive and help with growth and development.

When I was a teacher, my principal, I went to her and I said, I'm having trouble. I taught kindergarten morning and afternoon (inaudible). My morning class was great. My afternoon class for me was a disaster. She came three days observing me. She then got me a sub and we spent a day together. This was my principal, a day together, talking about how I can improve and I did. That's the kind of assessments we need for teachers.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you. Are there questions from members of the Committee? Representative Bolinsky. The hour is late and I'm getting old. Representative Bolinsky.

MARY BURNHAM: I've been here since 7:30. Come on.

REP. BOLINSKY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mary, thank you for hanging in here for the long haul with us. Let me just ask you, you threw a lot of stuff on the wall just now.

What do you think as a Legislature we ought to be doing with, you know, with Common Core right now? Is this something that should be delayed in its implementation, or should we allow this pilot to pilot?

MARY BURNHAM: It really scares me and what scares me is that we just don't know. I feel like my grandchildren are guinea pigs, and that in ten years if I turn around and you all say to me, ah, it wasn't a good idea, I'm going to be really upset. I can tell you my son is going to be even more upset and as my daughter-in-law will be, because it's their kid.

So, my sense is, yeah, I know everybody's afraid to throw it out and go back but this doesn't have research behind it. It doesn't have, it hasn't been tried any place. You're experimenting on my grandchildren and I don't appreciate that.

And maybe if we'd had hearings, I was one of the people who testified about the CMTs. I was the first Vice-President of the Connecticut PTA. We had lots of conversations for those.

We've had none. This is the first conversation that the public's had. That's terrible. Mr. Fleischmann, excuse me? I feel like you weren't listening. I'm sorry.

REP. FLEISHMANN: I was listening, thank you. You were responding to Representative Bolinsky. Are you finished with your answer?

MARY BURNHAM: I do have one other thing to say. My husband is a school psychologist in Westport and he left because he was exhausted. He drove all the way. He's number 84, I think and he went home, but he would have said a few things, too.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you. Are there further questions?

MARY BURNHAM: But my answer is no, I think you should throw it out.

REP. FLEISHMANN: A brief question from Senator Bartolomeo.

SENATOR BARTOLOMEO: Very brief. I just wonder if you realize, because you've been here for a couple of hours, but we spoke a lot in the beginning about the fact that we as a Legislature did not vote on --

MARY BURNHAM: I'm well aware of that.

SENATOR BARTOLOMEO: Okay. It didn't sound like it in your comments, so I just wanted to clarify and find out.

MARY BURNHAM: And I think it's a shame. I think it's a downright shame, because I think when we did, that was my point.

SENATOR BARTOLOMEO: Yeah. I was just looking for whether or not you knew. I was just trying to clarify.

MARY BURNHAM: I did. And I think it's wrong.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you. Other comments or questions? Representative Bolinsky, I announced earlier we were not allowing questions for the second time and we're not here for comments. You're a Legislator. You can comment at our (inaudible). This is for the public.

We go to Lisa Simo-Kinzer to be followed by Deborah Richards and as Miss Simo-Kinzer comes to the front, I just want to mention something, and I think staff are watching on TV so. The Clerk is here.

But there's been much discussion about concerns regarding what data is available and how it's protected. So the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act is well established federal law and what the Education Committee is going to do, we will post to our website a link to that federal law so that you can see the very strong federal protections that make it so that if there is data that relates to your child who is anywhere in public school from pre-K through grade 16, actually, if they're in college, no one but the family or the direct educator can get their data unless it's anonymized. In other words, it is impossible for someone to find out what your child is doing unless you wish it.

So that is something that is going to be posted to our website and that should be done within the next day or two and you will be able to look at it and review it for yourself.

With that, the floor is yours.

LISA MARIE SIMO-KINZER. Thank you. My name is Lisa Marie Simo-Kinzer. I come from Plymouth, Connecticut. I am a parent of three children, twin nine-year-olds and an eleven-year-old who go to Plymouth Center School.

I'm urging you to vote in support of 5078 in addition to H.B. 5331. I'm actually going to switch around my testimony. I'm going to address the statement that was just made about the FRAP law.

The actual reality is, a large piece of Common Core that's been brushed under the rug are the changes to FRAP that happened in 2011 by the U.S. Department of Education, changes that now allow student information to be given to third parties without student or parental permission, changes that will leave parents uninformed as to how their children's records are shared and to whom they're shared with.

One of the key changes significantly broadens the definition of personally identifiably information to include student's ID number, social security number and/or biometric records, which include fingerprints, retina and iris patterns, voice print, DNA sequence, et cetera, information that alone and in combination with others provide an automated recognition of a specific student.

There's also been talk about the 400 data points that have the potential to be collected and put into a longitudinal database, including students' date of birth, religious affiliation.

I also heard about this (inaudible) earlier, however one of the statements of receiving the Race to the Top funds ties it to there being a state longitudinal database. I can get you documentation. That's not a problem, in addition to the changes to the FRAP although I think it's easy enough to find on the Internet.

Additionally, I want to support that each child doesn't learn in the same way and shouldn't be expected to reach their full potential by being taught via a cookie cutter, an untried and untested method, a method that strictly focuses on the use of assessments and has no proven track record.

All children are not created equal and should have their strengths and weaknesses taken into consideration when being taught. Allow teachers to do what they're trained to do, teach the students using all the wonderful methods that they have available to them.

Teachers should not have their evaluations taken into account with the students' assessments and test scores. I can state with total honesty that if my teachers in elementary, middle and high school had their evaluations based on my test scores, they would have all lost their jobs.

Is it a reflection on them that I'm a poor test taker? Absolutely not.

Is it indicative that my teachers didn't know how to teach? Nope.

Is it a reflection that I'm an unintelligent woman? I can guarantee you that's not the case.

I'm a poor test taker. That's all. So again, is it fair to rate teachers on what is out of their control and my answer is no.

In closing, I'm going to ask you all to vote yes to the above bill so that the State Department of Education will be forced to stop the implementation of Common Core. Listen to the concern of parents, students and teachers about it and ultimately put it back to a vote to rescind the approval for the curriculum in Connecticut. Thank you.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you. Any questions or comments from members of the Committee? Representative Giuliano.

REP. GIULIANO: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Lisa, I just wanted to thank you for bringing up the point about data. It is of concern to many, many parents.


REP. GIULIANO: It's also of concern to teachers in my conversations with them. As you were speaking, I took your advice and went on the website about FRAP, and absolutely correct. There was a loosening --


REP. GIULIANO: -- by the U.S. Department of Education. In fact there is a lawsuit currently pending --


REP. GIULIANO: -- against the United States Department of Education for a breach of student privacy in the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act. That's really important and --


REP. GIULIANO: -- you have stated this correctly.


REP. GIULIANO: It has come up a few times in this hearing today and as a point of record, it is clear that third parties under the loosening of FRAP, which was sanctioned by the United States Department of Education does allow for a third party to view sensitive information.

And, I have to tell you, in my practice, a lot of my background has to do with test construction, so how to norm tests is a complex enough process, but typically when we create samples and standardize samples of student data, we can do that on date of birth and gender, and typically when we have educational instruments, or in my case, psychological instruments, that's how it's done.

This is rather an unprecedented expansion of data collection, so I just wanted, to your point, I just wanted to add that clarification because as we post something on the website for the Education Committee, I want that to be inclusive. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

LISA MARIE SIMO-KINZER: Thank you very much.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Thank you. And just be clear. When we post federal law, we won't post something from ten years ago. We will post the most updated version of the federal law, so don't worry about that. Other questions from members of the Committee? If not, thank you for your patience and your testimony.


REP. FLEISHMANN: Is Deborah Richards still here? Thomas Scarice.

THOMAS SCARICE: Good evening. Thank you for staying with me.

REP. FLEISHMANN: You're welcome. And we make no judgment regarding what you've chosen to wear before you give testimony.

THOMAS SCARICE: I took my tie off.

REP. FLEISHMANN: Please say whatever you wish.

THOMAS SCARICE: When I got the number 49 I had this visual of clicking the channels at night through C-SPAN and watching the junior senator from Georgia beckoning the Chamber and they panned and there's no one there. I thought that would be me tonight, but thank you for staying.

Well, I'd like to begin by saying if there's one take away that I've grabbed from this evening is that we have very different districts around the state.

By the way, I didn't mention. I'm the Superintendent from Madison. We have very different districts around the state. We're all at different points of implementation and the work we're working on.

I think from a superintendent's perspective, we don't agree on much, all of us all together. However, we would agree that a standardized approach to anything really doesn't serve us best, a one-size-fits all approach.

I'm hoping just to add to intellectual discourse tonight based on the research and evidence that's, you know, abundant in my field, and to consider the intended and unintended consequences of the policies and reforms.

I do feel a responsibility as an educational leader to raise critical questions and thoughts to add to the discourse and that may be one reason why we're here tonight, because that wasn't done some time ago.

There's obviously a fever pitch about the Common Core, and it's well founded and I don't see the need for me to revisit all the topics that were raised, but there are questions out there about the process and adoption and implementation and development.

There's questions about the content.

Further complicating are the fact that the Common Core is cloaked in a series of narratives and urgent calls to action, declarations and promises, all of which are questioned by established scholars, which really adds to the debate.

I think really one of the things at the root is that the Common Core is at the intersection of a series of reforms right now with evaluation, the Smarter Balance assessment.

Solutions I believe are best served by accurately framing a problem and the call for higher standards is a very compelling sound bite, but it may be a solution looking for a problem. Kind of hard to say you're not for higher standards. Kind of like it was hard to say I'm not for No Child Left Behind over a decade ago.

But a deep analysis by an institution like the Brookings Institute, I've looked at three decades of standards at their Center of Reform and in their quote, not mine, standards do not matter very much, just to put the debate in context and the questions that are out there.

A number of observations have been made and they're technically accurate. The standards are not curriculum. That is technically accurate. Standards and testing are not new. They've been around this work for 25 plus years.

Technically the Common Core was not state led and technically it will attempt to close the achievement gap. I believe under close inspection all of these really fail under close scrutiny for a number of reasons.

I do want to offer three suggestions. I believe that in order to really --

REP. FLEISCHMANN: Briefly and in summary. That would be great.

THOMAS SCARICE: I will. I will. In order to realize the promise of the Common Core, I believe we must make an effort to untangle these reforms and I'll try to do some of that with --

REP. FLEISCHMANN: One moment please. I think my Co-Chair for the evening has a remark.

SENATOR BYE: Yes. I would just ask that members of the audience respect the Chair and you were doing your thinking.

THOMAS SCARICE: Thank you. So the question is whether or not a moratorium is appropriate or even reasonably possible right now at this point in the game, and we are paying for a lack of process.

But three things I'd like to offer is first, as been stated, engage in a process which, with Connecticut's early childhood experts to genuinely examine the evidence related to developmental appropriateness. I believe the task force ought to take this up but also examine the viability of the standards in testing contingency plans in the event that findings necessitate changes.

But more importantly, I want to add a different angle tonight that hasn't been discussed. At the root of all of these reforms is the No Child Left Behind waiver, and I want to just put a couple points on the table.

The renewal process offers an opportunity for us to revisit those provisions. Federal law requires annual state tests. The waiver only requires teacher evaluation systems to take into account multiple valid measures, including as a significant factor, data on student growth.

SENATOR BYE: We really need you to wrap up now, because you're going over.

THOMAS SCARICE: None of the waiver materials make reference to standardized tests. Given that the root concern can be traced back to the misuse of high stake standardized tests. As you revisit the waiver I ask you to consider permanently be coupling standardized tests from the evaluation of individual teachers, eliminate the teacher evaluation scoring and percentage of waiting systems --

SENATOR BYE: Okay. I'm going to have you stop.

THOMAS SCARICE: -- and the one-size-fits all. Thank you.

SENATOR BYE: Thank you. I don't mean to be rude, but --

THOMAS SCARICE: It's late, I understand.

SENATOR BYE: Yes. Questions? Representative Kokoruda.

REP. KOKORUDA: Well, Mr. Scarice. It's nice to see you again.


REP. KOKORUDA: Superintendent Scarice and I started, I started here and he started at Madison Superintendent just about the same month, I think.


REP. KOKORUDA: We've been on this collision course, but I think we're, it's working. I'm a little confused about the waiver myself.


REP. KOKORUDA: Because you know, I know some of our issues and Madison was asking for a waiver, you know, on the evaluation. We were hearing. You know, it was turned down. We couldn't get it and one of the main reasons was the No Child Left Behind waiver.

Could you just explain that a little bit, what was going on and really, how is that No Child Left Behind waiver, and what Connecticut went after, how is that impacting us today, still?

THOMAS SCARICE: I won't pretend to be an expert on the waiver. I'll go by what I've researched and what I understand. The waiver was pursued after we did not receive Race to the Top funds in that grant.

A lot of the provisions were similar, but the language is pretty clear that I've looked at, that we ought to take into account multiple valid measures including a significant factor data on student growth.

The materials that I've seen do not reference standardized tests. In fact, the phrase I see the most is multiple valid measures. Connecticut's application, a case could be made, far exceeded the requirements of the waiver, of linking standardized tests to evaluations and other states did receive waivers without making this link or setting a set percentage.

So a case can be made that we went beyond that and there is a wide body of research that really, clearly illustrates the negative, unintended consequences of the misuse of high stakes tests, which is really the root, I believe, of what's happened for the past decade in education reform.

REP. KOKORUDA: Just to follow up. Why would you, what would be your assumption of why State of Connecticut would want to go beyond what was required, especially when you talk about multiple valid measures, valued measures. Why would we be going to this extreme, then? It does seem extreme compared to what's required.

THOMAS SCARICE: I can't answer that. I won't make assumptions. I don't know.

REP. KOKORUDA: Thank you. Thank you for all you do for Madison. Thank you.

REP. FLEISCHMANN: Thank you. Other questions? Senator Bartolomeo.

SENATOR BARTOLOMEO: Thank you, Mr. Chair. As a superintendent I wonder if you could just speak very quickly to what may or may not be the anticipated challenges for your network system when there's the SBAC tests are given? So what do you anticipate as challenges? Is your district prepared computer-wise and technology-wise, and also in that, is there any flexibility within districts that you're aware of, to stagger the days of the testing or are we going to see on one day the possible crash of the system statewide? Is that even realistic?

THOMAS SCARICE: All the information that we have is internally in our district. We're prepared, that the band width is there, and the machines are there, and that the staggering can happen over the course of a couple of months.

There are concerns, obviously. We are one of the few districts that did choose to stay with the CMT and the CAPS this year, for a few reasons that we articulated to our parents.

One of those reasons really had to do with the fact that the amount of time to get ready for a field test to teach instructional tools was a concern of ours, taking out a classroom time just for a field test.

But our understanding is that we're on course to do this as a district and across the state. Based on the specifications we were given, we meet those specifications.

REP. FLEISCHMANN: Thank you. I believe Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE: (Inaudible).

REP. FLEISCHMANN: Okay. Any other questions? Representative D'Agostino.

REP. D'AGOSTINO: Over here, Superintendent.

THOMAS SCARICE: Oh, you're in the corner, there.

REP. D'AGOSTINO: Can you just help, explain to me the dynamic that goes on among superintendents across the state with respect to this debate and I'm particularly concerned about the evaluation standards and the implementation of that.

And I asked my question because we heard a lot earlier in the day the CAPS executive director talked glowingly about the PEAC Commission, or the PEAC group and to hear him speak, it sounded like it was this dynamic force for change and I guess I think that's the furthest thing from the truth on occasion.

And I hear you speak as a superintendent and it's hard for me, and I would imagine other Legislators to process sort of who we should be listening to as the voice of superintendents when we hear CAPS say one thing and you come up and say something else.

THOMAS SCARICE: I'm not the voice of superintendents. I'll be clear on that.

REP. D'AGOSTINO: I know you're not, but just give us the sense of the dynamic going on amongst superintendents.

THOMAS SCARICE: I think it's very healthy to have independent thought and to raise critical questions about important issues, and that's what I'm seeking to do, just raise questions that were thoughtful and considerate when we proceed with all of these reforms.

I think what most superintendents would agree, if not all, is that at the core of these issues are a one-size-fits-all mentality. Not quite sure why that approach is deemed as being the most effective for our state when you've heard all day for the past ten hours, I'm sure, how different our districts are, for a variety of reasons, not just implementation of curriculum but the children we serve, the capacity of our staff, the values of our local communities.

So that, I believe, is something that all the superintendents would probably sign on for, that broader control for local boards. Parameters, like we've had. We've had evaluation guidelines. I remember in 2002 evaluation guidelines came out and they were very broad but we also had the option to go off from those guidelines if we had agreement locally with our association, with our administration, our board of education.

So that's the spirit that I think would get us to the best possible performance as local districts. It's almost ironic that in the 21st century, we're talking about diversity of thought and crowd sourcing is being the way to get there, yet we're moving more toward 20th century when we try to standardize and homogenize.

So that's just an observation of mine, and I'm sure there are well founded intentions behind all of this. I never question intention. I just question the practice and where it's taking us.

REP. FLEISCHMANN: Thank you. Representative Lavielle.

REP. LAVIELLE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you for your testimony at this hour. I'll just, it's a small question. Did I understand from you correctly that what is maybe most perplexing to you and sort of the monkey wrench in the whole thing is the aspect of testing --


REP. LAVIELLE: -- essentially. And my follow up to that is --

THOMAS SCARICE: Can I clarify that? Can I clarify that?


THOMAS SCARICE: Because it isn't testing. Tests are not evil. Tests are not bad. It's the misuse of tests that concern me as a professional. We have tests better designed to describe student performance. Just like you go into the doctor. It's going to describe something, but we've moved to use something, a tool that describes to now attribute responsibility for it, and that's a misuse of the test.

REP. LAVIELLE: Both vis-a-vis the students and vis^~a^~vis the teachers, I imagine.


REP. LAVIELLE: So how much does your, if your district --


REP. LAVIELLE: -- were to have input into that test, or those tests, does that, would that have allayed your concerns somewhat and is there any input at all, and does that trouble you? I don't want to lead you in that questioning. I didn't mean to inflate, but you see where I'm going with that.

THOMAS SCARICE: Yeah. Yeah. I think we very strongly welcome the use of, the appropriate use, based on the evidence that we have and the literature we've read of student learning in the performance of professional teacher evaluation.

We welcome that. It's how it's done is what's most important, and it's looking at a body of evidence as opposed to one indicator, particularly one indicator that was never designed for that purpose.

There's a great purpose for standardized tests. If you were to go to the doctor, you want a standardized measure of your health. You don't want him to make something up. We want the same standardized measures for our kids. We just want to be put in context, the appropriate context, and not to be misused.

So looking at a body of evidence of performance and what a teacher has direct control over is her instructional, are there instructional decisions, how they respond to student learning data, can they explain the differences in the data and what would they do differently? Those are all within the purview of a teacher's instruction in the classroom and to hold a teacher accountable for those actions is very appropriate.

REP. LAVIELLE: Thank you, and I found your observation on the disjunction between diversity of thought and standardization and measurement very thought provoking. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

REP. FLEISCHMANN: Thank you. Other questions for the witness? If not, thank you very much for your time and your patience and testimony. Is Mary Driscoll still here? If not, is Deborah Findley still here? If Deborah is gone, how about Marty Semmel? Welcome.

JAY MAHALKO: Yes, so thank you. I'm here for Marty Semmel, my colleague. He had to leave, so he asked me to speak for us both.

REP. FLEISCHMANN: So please give your name and title for the record.

JAY MAHALKO: My name is Jay Mahalko, and I'm here today speaking as the Principal of Noah Webster Micro Society Magnet School in Hartford and also a parent of two students in the Hartford public school system, and also a proponent of continuing with the Common Core State Standards.

Let me start by reiterating what I shared with families at the informational session about the Common Core State Standards, that we must remember the Common Core is not a curriculum.

There's a clear set of shared goals and expectations for what knowledge and skills will help our students succeed.

As such, my teachers will continue to devise lesson plans and tailor instructions to meet the individual needs of students.

One thing that I wanted to share was at a recent school event that was an informational session, that included information about the Common Core and also included a panel of teachers from the school to answer questions of families about the Common Core State Standards a parent asked, did the teachers feel straight-jacketed by the Common Core? Did it limit what they could teach and how they could teach it?

My second-grade teacher responded that if anything, she felt the opposite. She felt that she was less limited than she had ever been and was now encouraged to support her students to be thinkers and to be problem solvers.

This was posed to the limiting focuses to discreet skills that through the years teachers had learned would be items that would be most heavily tested on the Connecticut Mastery Test, and so at times they would forego deep understanding of particular when the CMT was approaching, to ensure that students were able to meet the bare minimum for proficiency.

An example of that would be focusing in on fractions as they were about 80 percent of what math portion of that test included and would forego geometry and measurement, which is now appearing as a weakness across the school.

I, myself, highlighted that these were not just grade level standards, but they were also standards that run through kindergarten through the 12th grade. In math these are called the anchor standards and in literacy, they are the base standards, and what this does is create a continuum, which I really appreciate. That it's not just looking at it grade level by grade level, but what are the commonalities of what students need to know as they develop as learners and thinkers.


JAY MAHALKO: I had a great powerful end statement for you, but it was great. It blew you away. Trust me.

REP. FLEISCHMANN: Well, your sort of explanation of how this unfolds in your school was very helpful. Are there questions from members of the Committee? Representative Ackert.

REP. ACKERT: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you for being here tonight and pinch-hitting, but you did a great job and I appreciate your input.

Hartford, how long have you been working on the curriculum development? Are you completed with it? Has it been implemented while you've been working with the standards and the testing model that you're using this year, is that going to be the SBAC and have you worked with it at all?

JAY MAHALKO: Yes, so I'll answer the curriculum portion first. I mean, that's an ongoing process. We have been modifying the curriculum that was already in place and looking at how can we make sure that that is also in alignment with what the Common Core State Standards are looking for.

We've also made adjustments as a school. As a magnet school we're autonomous so we're able to make adjustments as well within our building.

As far as Smarter Balance, this is going to be our second year. We took the field test last year as well with fewer students and this is going to be the year where we're fully implementing it third grade through eighth grade.

REP. ACKERT: Excellent. Thank you. And has the development of the curriculum, ongoing development of the curriculum been pretty much by your individual school, or has it been on a more global basis?

JAY MAHALKO: It's been across the entire district and it has been something that has involved, you know, teachers, curriculum specialists, and is also available through what's called Intranet, so all teachers have access to that curriculum as well.

REP. ACKERT: Great. Thank you. Thank you for your testimony. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

REP. FLEISCHMANN: Thank you. Other questions? If not, thank you very much for your time, patience and testimony.

JAY MAHALKO: Thank you so much. Have a great night.

REP. FLEISCHMANN: Is Milly Arciniegas here? Millie is to be followed by Lori Cebellius if she's still here.

MILLY ARCINIEGAS: Good evening Education Committee members and everyone behind me. I know it's been a long night and I certainly have heard on both sides and, but I submitted testimony earlier today so you should have this testimony in front of you and with you.

My name is Milly Arciniegas and I'm a resident of Hartford and a parent of a child in the Hartford public school system and also the Hartford Parent University Executive Director.

I'm here today to share with all of you about all of the time and effort Hartford Parent University has spent on preparing and educating Hartford parents on the importance of the Common Core standards over the last year and just recently during our learning session held with Hartford public schools on March 1st.

This learning session that we had, we had over 50 parents attend this class and we continued to do this. We've been doing this for about a year and a half and what we find is that the parents are asking the questions. They're excited that for once we're looking at high expectations so that our children can actually achieve at those expectations and that their children can compete globally.

And those are great conversations that parents have amongst each other and now with the teachers. So this is a great conversation that we're having, so to delay this, it would only be to delay this conversation and why would we want that, right?

I mean, if we could just implement it and then we know it's not going to be perfect. That's why we're starting to ask questions now, and if we implement it and we tweak it along the way, we will make progress, and that's what we want.

We want ultimately that the parents, the children make progress throughout the Common Core standards, and so we have these high standards now and parents are saying, well, anywhere I go regardless of my zip code, we're going to have the same standards. That's beautiful. We've been wanting to have this conversation.

Over the last 13 years that's all I kept hearing is one zip code they get these standards and another zip code they get different standards. So now we're starting to have the conversations like clear across the board. Everything's going to be the same. That's the conversation that's happening on the ground and I will continue to have these conversations with parents so that we can move forward, so that we can terminate the achievement gap. Thank you.

REP. FLEISCHMANN: Thank you. Very well stated. Are there questions from members of the Committee? If not, I thank you for your testimony and your patience and time.

Is Lori Cebellius still here? And you're to be followed by Janet Roberts, if she's still here.

LORI CEBELLIUS: First of all, I'd like to give you an A plus on the pronunciation of my last name. It's a difficult one, even as I was learning it when I first met my husband. I had to look at the spelling in order to be able to read it, or say it. At any rate.

Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee, thank you very much for this opportunity. My name is Lori Cebellius and I'm a second grade teacher in the Town of Rocky Hill.

I was a special educator for 22 years and have been teaching second grade for 8 years. As a seasoned teacher, I have seen many initiatives come and go. Some have been more successful than others, typically within the realm of education new programs are the norm.

However, I cannot recall having experienced so much that is new ever coming at us so quickly and all within the same timeframe.

I firmly believe that as a state, we want the best and the brightest to join our ranks as educators. I greatly fear that the new teacher evaluation program, plus Common Core State Standards plus Smarter Balance assessment will do precisely the opposite.

We will scare new passionate teachers away from the profession quickly. In thinking about our newest teachers in their first years, they are responsible for completing the TEAM program, which replaced the BEST program. Basically, a new teacher has several modules to progress through as part of their on-the-job training.

These modules include written papers very much like the ones they completed as part of their student teaching internships and experiences. In addition, they are also required to participate in the new teacher evaluation program. This is all in addition to learning all there is to know about the day-to-day working of a classroom and everything that entails.

These young teachers will burn out quickly and with so many requirements placed on them in addition to instructing the students assigned to their educational care.

As a citizen of the state, I would prefer to see our young teachers given the room to learn and grow.

Our seasoned teachers are required to go through the same process as our new and mid-career teachers with the confines of the new teacher evaluation document. Lacking in this document is the respect for the knowledge that a seasoned teacher brings to the field. Also lacking is the flexibility for a mid-career or seasoned teacher to add to the repertoire of skilled and expertise to expand their knowledge to pursue applicable content and receive recognition for doing so.

Moving forward, I question the logic behind coupling a teacher's evaluation career with a test score and my three minutes is up, so I will just go directly to my summation.

While it's true that the Connecticut Core State Standards were adopted by the State of Connecticut in 2010, I believe that the roll out did not occur earlier due to the fact that the CMT was still the assessment required, in my district, anyway.

As a result, training for the Common Core has been minimal. These new standards, as well as the materials necessary for teaching the Common Core are not yet field tested and teachers find themselves making it up as they go along.

Is this the education we want for our children? Teachers recognize the need for updating standards and practices. Our world is changing and we will change with it as we always have.

However, we need a thoughtful, well laid out plan for implementation in order to achieve success. Teachers plan out and execute their daily lessons with a precise development of the task we are asking of our students. We need a precise plan to execute any new standard or practice to ensure success of new initiatives.

In summation please consider the implications of so many new initiatives on the education of the children in our state. Let's use what we know about good teaching and planning to slow down the process of implementation of Common Core. Let's use our expertise and our experience to guide the thoughtful roll out of a new and appropriate teacher evaluation document. Let's give our Connecticut teachers time, training and flexibility to implement a greater education for all.

REP. FLEISCHMANN: Thank you. Are there any questions for Miss Cebellius? If not, I thank you for your time and your patience and your testimony.

LORI CEBELLIUS: I thank you for yours as well.

REP. FLEISCHMANN: Is Miss Roberts here? Janet Roberts? If not, is Gwen Samuels still here? Gwen will be followed by Michelle Duffany. Is Michelle still here?

A VOICE: No. She left.

GWEN SAMUEL: So, I'm going to split my time with some New Haven parents. I will do one minute. You don't think I can, but I can show you that I can. So we've been here for ten hours. We have Norwalk parent and husband upstairs --

REP. FLEISCHMANN: So Gwen, just be clear. The same rules apply to you as to everyone, which is three minutes for someone who's signed up.

GWEN SAMUEL: Yep. Three minutes. I said good three, one, one, one. I'm with you, Representative Fleischmann.

So good evening Education members. My name is Gwen Samuel. I am a parent of Meriden, Connecticut. That's my Senator, and I'm also the founder of the Connecticut Parents Union and I had the pleasure of working with Teach our Children Youth (inaudible) in New Haven, Connecticut.

I'm here for two bills. I oppose House Bill 5078 because we're clearly talking about two Connecticut's and today's testimony, I sat here for ten hours and we've only spoken about one Connecticut.

There is another State of Connecticut that has 200,000 children, close to 200,000, which is 40 percent of Connecticut's children that comprise Connecticut's achievement gap, and was equal, you're talking billions of dollars if we were to multiply that number by our average $15,000 per pupil.

And so I looked up every co-sponsor of this bill and while I respect the right to implement, you know, to implement a bill, other than Danbury and Waterbury, none of you have an achievement gap. Your demographics do not reflect the urban community and so when you talk about parents, I have to wonder, are we talking about all parents?

Because in 2010 when this bill was introduced, you also passed a law that said that the lowest performing schools, which are 350, were able to have school governance councils and each school governance council has a very community, teachers, parents and youth (inaudible) high school. The very population that you're saying weren't a part of the conversations, you had the chance to engage us three years ago, but instead, you did not implement or enforce school governance councils in the lowest performing schools.

So talking about school Common Core, let's talk about what it is. It's not a curriculum. It's talking about English language arts, math and literacy. If we talk about school governance councils, the lowest performance schools could not, oh, I'm sorry, they're considered low performing schools because they have not made adequate yearly progress in reading and math.

So Common Core as we to know it in our community is meaning giving children access to the core foundations that they would need to be productive citizens, able to engage civically and be able to engage in this process.

So, I done messed up. Okay, okay. So as a result, I'm going to wrap it up. Representative McCrory did a study in 2010. He asked for the number of low performing schools in the state that were graduating black males and Hispanic males. We were graduating whole classes of kids, young people, that were functioning illiterate.

So it's not fair for you to tell the other Connecticut that they have to wait until Connecticut the wealthiest state in the country get it right.

So I'm asking you to think about all parents, all students, all communities in your conversations when you're talking about Common Core because I am anxious and so are they. You're anxious about the tests. We're anxious about your School to Prison pipeline.

So make no mistake about the anxiety that's being felt. So I thank you for your time. Any questions. Nielda, just introduce yourselves. I done messed up. I'm out of here.

REP. FLEISCHMANN: So here's how it works. You had your three minutes and that time is now used. Are there questions from members of the Committee? Representative LeMar.

REP. LEMAR: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I'm going to let you finish a little here. Thank you very much for coming out tonight. I just spoke to someone else from the Hartford University, Parent University who spoke a little earlier and I want to congratulate you for coming up tonight and spending this amount of time.

You represented fairly what I hear from parents in New Haven on a day-to-day basis, and I want to try and prod out of you or anyone in your group, why we think that is? Why is it when I go back to New Haven I hear from parents who are excited about the idea of universal standards, their students, so they'll be able to judge whether or not their students are making progress toward achievement in college.

If they look at, if they look at the amount of remediation that's necessary at Gate Way Community College before they can move on, while they're taking loans to take these remedial classes and they wish they had indicated earlier on in school that their kids were unprepared for college. That's what I'm hearing from New Haven.

For the first time this evening I heard it about parents in Hartford, from you representing Meriden and New Haven. That's what I'm hearing. You seem to be hearing the same thing. Is that what you're hearing universally inside of urban districts like ours?

GWEN SAMUEL: Absolutely. So what it is when they're talking about it. We did things kind of backwards. This year, in 2012 you implemented a law that's now going to take remedial classes out of college. Right. Remedial shouldn't be there.

But you also didn't bring rigor to the classroom, so that you're penalizing young people for we not as a K-12 system, right, our P-20 system, not giving them the foundation they need to be successful so that they can be able to go to college, and then now we've taken away that right and then now we're talking about upholding Common Core, which again is talking about rigor, bringing higher standards.

So the zip code for every co-sponsor of the bill, the same access to quality school that you have in your zip code, we want to have it in our zip code as well, and they do want testing because we want to be able to know how our children are doing so that we can work with them to improve their skill set.

Okay, that's another parent. That's New Haven.

NIEDRA RUTHERFORD: Hi. I'm Niedra Rutherford. I have four children in New Haven public schools and they attend three different schools in New Haven and I found in my experience with my children, I have a junior at Metro, I have a freshman at HRC and two middle schools at Betsy Ross.

And being in New Haven School District and having the Common Core standards being implemented, I feel like across the board my high schoolers are getting the same equal playing fields as other children in other school districts.

New Haven has, from what I've experienced in my town a bad reputation for their schools but I'm an advocate. I love New Haven schools. My freshman and my junior both go to high schools in New Haven, but my junior, his curriculum is not rigorous. There's no higher order thinking in the classes that he's taking. I'm not going to say the whole school is going to go according to his track.

Where my freshman has been exposed to higher order thinking and she's in a mastery based learning program and it's being taught and implemented differently than the other school that's right next door to one another.

So I feel like Common Core is what we need to give our children, my children a level playing field.

A VOICE: (Inaudible).

MEGAL IFFLE: Good evening, Chairman, thank you. To answer your question, I am also from New Haven.

REP. FLEISCHMANN: Please identify yourself for the record.

MEGAN IFFLE: My name is Megan Ifill. I am a parent of a ninth grader and the eleventh grader that testified here earlier. I'm also on the task force of the city-wide PTO in New Haven, so I hear from all parents, all month long, also a parent leader to teach our children. We do listening tours in the actual neighborhoods and what we're hearing is to have a level playing field, to hear the good, the bad, the ugly so we could be prepared for it when our kids get to college.

So they may be getting As and Bs in different schools because the of however the test is given, but that is not the real world, and then they get hit in the head when they get to Gate Way Community College and they're paying for remedial courses and their financial aid runs out. Their student loans run out and they have no college degree.

So something like Common Core is incredibly helpful. At our city-wide PTO meetings we have teachers that are also parents. We have administrators. We have Parent University where they're teaching Common Core to parents.

The superintendent comes out. Karen comes to board of ed meetings. We are hearing about it. We are being directed to websites with more information and education.

I think in New Haven, because we are being informed, it makes it a lot easier for us to accept with informed consent.

SENATOR BYE: Thank you.

REP. LEMAR: I want to thank you very much. As parent of three public school, or soon to be public school children in New Haven, I think you guys have hit what I'm hearing on a day-to-day basis when I walk in and out of schools in New Haven from both parents and teachers. So thank you again.

REP. FLEISCHMANN: Thank you. Any other questions from Members of the Committee?

A VOICE: (Inaudible).

REP. FLEISCHMANN: Your time was utilized when you spoke, but there is a question from Representative Lavielle.

REP. LAVIELLE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you all for coming. I'm intrigued and this rang home with me somewhat.

I have not signed on to the bill because I have all sorts of mixed feelings about everything and I have a peculiar district. I have two of the finest school districts, I don't want to say finest, the highest performing Wilton and Westport in my district, and I also then have Norwalk, and I find that in Wilton and Westport there's been sort of a grudging acceptance that, you know, we'll do this and then some annoyance that it might hold things back, and Norwalk has gone barreling along very quickly and the school system itself has been very pleased to have something to grab onto and to measure itself by and --

SENATOR BYE: Representative Lavielle, could you just ask a question?

REP. LAVIELLE: I'm sorry. You're right.

SENATOR BYE: I don't mean to be rude, but we've got, I've still got 100 people.

REP. LAVIELLE: I don't mind at all. Anyway, that rang home for me what you said, and I just, my question is, do you find that since you feel you need this urgency, that the standards themselves are exactly what you were looking for? Are they serving your purpose? Would you change anything?

NIEDRA RUTHERFORD: Hi, again. I have two elementary-aged children in Norwalk public schools and I have a fourth grader in one of the schools there and at the onset of Common Core, she was really bashful and some things were not going well in some areas of her classes. Once they began the implementation of Common Core and the way that her teacher is teaching is, there is a confidence that she has gained because the answer that would have been wrong under other standards are now right under Common Core. Not that the answer is wrong in its other self, but because there are different ways to come about the answer.

It has built a level of confidence in her. She will be taking the Smarter Balance next week and she's very excited about it. She's very excited about the opportunity that Common Core has brought to her. All we've heard about for the past week is that everyone's getting a Google (inaudible) book to take the Smarter Balance and that the Smarter Balance is coming next week.

So I agree that Norwalk has gone full steam ahead with Common Core implementation and I see the positive effects in my own household with that implementation.

GWEN SAMUEL: (Inaudible). They're created an environment that makes you look forward to the test, and I think it's the way they're framing it. I still believe the teachers are teaching content versus necessarily the test and (inaudible) more about Common Core. Let's not underestimate our youngsters. They know more about it than we are, so I think we should give your youngsters more credit for understanding, bringing (inaudible) to the classroom than the adults bring this conversation this evening.

SENATOR BYE: Okay. Representative --

GWEN SAMUEL: (Inaudible) because of the information she brought home from school regarding it.

REP. LAVIELLE: Thank you.

SENATOR BYE: Are you set?

REP. LAVIELLE: Yes. One final sentence. You've certainly pointed out the fallacy of one-size-fits-all. Thank you. Thank you, Madam Chair.

SENATOR BYE: Thank you all for coming. Thank you for your patience. We appreciate it. Michelle Duffany, followed by Edie Joseph, followed by Lisa Sabitz. Lisa? Oh, Edie. Yeah. Sorry.

EDIE JOSEPH: Good evening and thanks for your time. My name is Edie Joseph and I'm testifying on behalf of Connecticut Voices for Children. I'm here tonight to talk about the importance of pre-kindergarten education, something I think that most everyone in the room can agree with.

So Connecticut Voices for Children, we strongly support Senate Bill 424 and House Bill 5522, two bills that address the need for high-quality early care in education in Connecticut.

Senate Bill 424 requires the Department of Children and Families to enroll each pre-school aged child in their caring custody in an eligible pre-school program.

We know that pre-kindergarten is the single most important factor contributing to kindergarten readiness. For youth in the care and custody of the state, youth who don't have parents to be here tonight speaking on their behalf, these youth who are often detached from family and community in a way that other children are not, pre-school takes on even additional importance,

Children involved in the child welfare system are at a high risk for developmental delays, poor academic success and socio-emotional issues, all of which early education services can help mitigate or ameliorate.

Unfortunately, preliminary evidence suggests that the state is not meeting their obligation of statutory parents to provide a high-quality early learning experience. Currently, as many as half of pre-school aged children in DCF care are not in pre-school, and by third grade, children in DCF's care lags far behind their peers in standardized tests.

Pre-kindergarten can help close this opportunity gap for abused and neglected children.

To further strengthen this legislation, we recommend that there be increased collaboration between DCF and the new Office of Early Childhood, expanding the provisions of Connecticut school stability legislation and ensuring that children remain enrolled in pre-school for the entire year, even if they exit DCF care.

Overall, we just want to stress that this bill is crucial for Connecticut's most vulnerable three and four-year-olds who again, don't have parents to speak on their behalf in this room today.

In addition, we also strongly support Senate Bill 5522, which increases school readiness funding. We know that for pre-kindergarten to have maximal impact, it must be high quality.

The Governor's proposed budget revisions demonstrate a clear commitment to this quality by increasing access to accredited programs and by increasing the rate of slots by three percent. H.B. 5522 further increases the rate of school readiness slots but unfortunately, it doesn't increase them enough to account for the true cost of high-quality care.

In particular, rate increases are needed to increase compensation to attract and retain well qualified teachers, teachers whom we've heard from all night and know how incredibly hardworking that they are.

Studies show that the true per child cost of high-quality full day, full year care is between $12,000 and $18,000, significantly higher than the $9,000 proposed rate. Several studies across the country and in Connecticut themselves have confirmed that this rate is much higher again than the $9,000 proposed rate.

To improve quality and stand up for Connecticut's children, we urge the Legislature to take bold steps and further increase funding for early childhood and to increase pre-school access for children in the care and custody of DCF. Thanks for the opportunity to testify.

REP. FLEISCHMANN: Thank you for your testimony and your advocacy, particularly in support of the bill that I've worked on with the Early Childhood Alliance, to try and equalize --

EDIE JOSEPH: We really appreciate that.

REP. FLEISCHMANN: -- the rates of pay for full day, versus part day care. I had a quick question for you, but I'm so tired I've forgotten it. Representative Ackert.

REP. ACKERT: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And Edie, thank you. The number, actually by an earlier testifier was 44, only 44 percent, actually, so it's less than the 50, the numbers are receiving that opportunity.

And I don't know if you know, how many children are we actually talking about? Do you have a rough number on that?

EDIE JOSEPH: Sure. So it's about 395, three, four and five-year-olds who are currently in state care, and yeah, it's about 56 percent who we are not sure have access currently.

REP. ACKERT: Do we know why that hasn't been, you know, addressed, or maybe it has been attempted? Is it just, you know, I don't want to blame a department, you know, is there a hurdle that we have to come over?

EDIE JOSEPH: So we know anecdotally that it's likely that more children than that 44 percent are enrolled in pre-kindergarten, but we don't know for sure because DCF isn't capturing that data and so again, it's not a 100 percent accurate number. There might be more children than we know of, but you know, even if there's one single child who isn't currently in pre-kindergarten who's in DCF care, that's an issue that we need to work on.

REP. ACKERT: Thank you again for your testimony and your advocacy. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

REP. FLEISCHMANN: Any other questions? If not, thank you very much.

EDIE JOSEPH: Thanks again.

REP. FLEISCHMANN: Appreciate your time. Is Lisa Sabitz still here? She's to be followed by Ray Rossomando who I saw here a few minutes ago.

LISA BETH SABITZ: Good evening, and thank you to the Education Committee for this opportunity to speak. I am Lisa Beth Sabitz, appearing on behalf of the Connecticut PTA. Our organization's President, Don Romoser is unable to be here today because he is with PTA leaders from across the country at the National PTA Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C.

He's already submitted testimony opposing both H.B. 5078 and H.B. 5331 on behalf of the over 44,000 PTA members in the State of Connecticut.

I will not take up your time repeating his points. The bottom line is that the PTA has advocated for standards like this for 33 years. We know there is still work to be done, but it should be allowed to proceed.

Common Core State Standards are important to Connecticut PTA because they are essential to our children.

I would also like to add something based on other testimony I have heard today. Many of you are understandably concerned with the disparate progress made by different districts in the implementation of Common Core. Just as you would not want the achievement gap addressed by holding back high achievement students, I presume you do not want to halt progress in those districts where it's being made. Thank you.

REP. FLEISCHMANN: Thank you for some of the most succinct testimony of the day. Very appreciated. Are there questions from members of the Committee? Representative Walko.

REP. WALKO: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Lisa Beth, thanks for being here. I know I'm not the only one from Greenwich in the room and I know you played an instrumental role in Greenwich PTAs as well.

Can you comment a little bit about what steps Greenwich has taken in the context of the testimony you've heard today, because I know you've been here all day concerning implementation and development and how Greenwich has gone about doing the implementation of Common Core.

LISA BETH SABITZ: Yeah. Greenwich is definitely one of the districts that got on this a little bit earlier and they've been talking about it with parents, with administrators and with teachers for a while.

I still think it's causing a lot of stress, especially for the teachers. I think the parents may be a little more accepting of it because they've been given more information, but the idea for the teachers of all of these things coming at them at once, just as a lot of people have testified to today, I think is a very similar feeling of frustration.

And the combination of a new test coming in and tying that to a teacher evaluation system on top of writing a new curriculum is certainly not something any professional should have to deal with.

REP. WALKO: Thank you, and thank you, Mr. Chairman.

REP. FLEISCHMANN: Any other questions from members of the Committee? If not, thank you again for your succinct testimony and your patience. Ray Rossomando to be followed by Patrice Peterson.

RAY ROSSOMANDO: Good evening, Senator Bye, Representative Fleischmann, members of the Education Committee. My name is Ray Rossomando. I'm a Research and Policy Specialist with the Connecticut Education Association. I'm here today to speak on Senate Bill 425. We come in opposition of the bill concerning governance of State Education Resource Center.

As you probably recall, the State Department of Education brought forward a very similar bill to this bill last year. We opposed the bill last year. We were concerned about loosening the provisions of transparency, freedom of information and other protections of the public interest.

This Committee did great work in passing a bill that ensured those protections. Our concern is that passage of this bill this year would unravel those protections and risk reversing the progress that you've made.

Quasi-entities are somewhat rare, complex operations that don't happen in state agencies that often, and there are four particular reasons.

You might have a complex issue that you might have to address, whether it's public finance, complex financing, economic development, waste to energy. Those are the sorts of things that are not traditionally governmental functions that are given to quasi-agencies.

Certainly, education is not one of these complex, questionable, functions that are questionable public good. Education is clearly a public duty fulfilled through public institutions.

Also, quasis and even SERC, which is what this bill is about, have troubled histories when it comes to transparency. SERC over the last couple of years and there's been a decade-long history of issues with transparency and no big contracts with numerous of the quasi-entities.

CEA supports clarifying SERC's role as a state agency and ensuring the protections of public interest are secured, and so we urge opposition to this bill and we ask you to restore the provisions of transparency and to give good consideration to including SERC as a state agency. Thank you.

REP. FLEISCHMANN: Thank you. Are there any questions? Representative Ackert.

REP. ACKERT: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And Ray, good to see you.

RAY ROSSOMANDO: Good to see you, too.

REP. ACKERT: Earlier testimony, and I thank you for your concise input. I was hoping to hear some of that. But SERC representative was here earlier and she talked about the hurdles of some grant dollars in terms of, if they go to the quasi-public, which I understand that this one is a little different than some of the ones that we have existing, a little bit tighter regulations. That I'd have to still look into.

But she had mentioned opportunities that they have going this route with getting more philanthropic dollars, donors that would support. Do you think we would still be able to do that process if we go the route that you suggest?

RAY ROSSOMANDO: I thought she also made some reference to federal dollars as well, to the best of my recollection, and I don't, I'm sorry?

REP. ACKERT: Yeah, about 90 percent of it is public dollars. The rest are money that they go after.

RAY ROSSOMANDO: Sure, absolutely. Certainly there are provisions in state law now that allow the State Department of Education and other state agencies to accept private donations, and I think so long as there's transparency around that and informing the public where this money is coming from, I think that's something there is a precedence for in state agencies, so I don't see that as being a hurdle.

I understood her comments to be a hurdle in her existing structure with some other grants that moving to a different structure might solve, and I think moving to a state agency could solve those same problems.

REP. ACKERT: Thank you, and that's exactly what she did say. In the existing structure that they have now, working with Renssalaer, I believe and being a different entity, so thank you for that clarity and thank you, Mr. Chairman.

REP. FLEISCHMANN: Thank you. I'm just curious, Ray. Has CEA made an effort to quantify the increased cost to the state to (inaudible) SERC when you become state employees?

RAY ROSSOMANDO: I think beyond our expertise in quantifying the impact on the teacher retirement system, I'm sorry, on the state employment retirement system. Certainly many of the employees already participate in the state teachers retirement system, so if there were to be a transition to a state agency we'd have to look at how those employees would transition to a state employment retirement system if they're not already covered under the state teachers retirement system, but we don't have that data. We have not done that analysis.

But, one more comment, sir. When you do look at the bottom line employee number that was issued in the report in March just earlier this month, it is about a million dollars of employee benefits and salaries, so it's not a significant amount. It's only to have the transparency and to drop the five hundred some odd thousand dollars that I think they're paying to Renssalaer as a fiduciary relationship and I think the net benefit is for the public good.

REP. FLEISCHMANN: Thank you. Are there questions? If not, thank you for your time and your patience to testify.

RAY ROSSOMANDO: Thank you for your time and patience.

REP. FLEISCHMANN: Patrice Peterson, to be followed by Sheila Cohen if she's still here.

A VOICE: She testified with (inaudible).

REP. FLEISCHMANN: To be followed by Jessica Higgins, if she's still here. Welcome.

PATRICE PETERSON: Thank you. I do have to take a point of personal privilege because it is rare for me and for any citizen to be able to have the honor of appearing before both their State Senator and their State Representative and I feel very fortunate that that's me tonight, although I would have appreciated it if it were me this afternoon.

Hi. My name is Patrice Peterson, and I am the President of CSEA-SEIU Local 2001. We are a union that represents 27,000 active and retired publicly funded employees across the State of Connecticut.

CSEA also represents part of their group, the education administrators who are part of the state's P3A bargaining unit, and on behalf of the P3A bargain unit, I submit this testimony opposing Senate Bill 425.

I have my full testimony that's written. I'm just going to use a couple paragraphs here. The P3A members are education consultants who, among other things, supervise training programs for school teachers, administrators, professional staff and paraprofessionals. They provide oversight for school construction projects and administer many federal and state funded programs for the State Department of Education. Many P3A members have terminal degrees and are nationally known for their leadership and expertise.

By all appearances, Senate Bill 425 would legitimize the outsourcing of the P3A bargaining unit work to SERC. By establishing SERC as a quasi-public agency, the bill risks turning SERC into a shadow agency not subject to the same oversight, transparency and accountability of other state employees, state agencies, but maybe that's their intent.

In its present form we will not support this legislation. The bill raises many questions for us. For example, will SERC fall, contracts fall under the State Department of Education's review and oversight for the State Contracting Standards Board? There are a number of other questions.

There are also many examples that P3A work will be unnecessarily duplicated as wasteful expenses of tax dollars. For example, in Section 2v, SERC is to establish a Connecticut school reform resource center and the listed functions of the center describe work that the P3A members already do in the turn-around office of the State Department of Education.

Every education professional is invested in providing the best services to the students and families in Connecticut. We want children to learn to assist teachers, administrators, professional staff and paraprofessionals in improving their skill set, and work with parents and communities to build schools in which teaching and learning occurs.

However, nobody wants to see Connecticut turn SERC into something that operates outside the established and respected parameters. With that status, they'll be functioning without a level of transparency required of all state agencies.

Additionally in these trying financial times, using tax dollars to fund an action which are already done by state employees is unacceptable.

We are eager to meet with members of the Education Committee to improve this piece of legislation and for the effectiveness of SERC. At CSEA we are committed to ensuring that Connecticut schools are models for this country. Thank you.

REP. FLEISCHMANN: Thank you. Are there questions from members of the Committee? Senator Bye.

SENATOR BYE: You know, Patrice, I just want to thank you for hanging in there and I know you were here all morning preparing for another hearing today that lasted a long time, so I thank you for your patience and for representing your members so well.

PATRICE PETERSON: Thank you. It's unusual when you get to appear before the same person twice in the same day, two different Committees.

REP. FLEISCHMANN: Any other comments or questions? If not, thank you.

SENATOR BYE: Almost not the same day.

PATRICE PETERSON: That's true. What's for breakfast?

REP. FLEISCHMANN: Please don't think about breakfast. Thank you, Patrice.


REP. FLEISCHMANN: We move along to Jessica Higgins if she's still here and she'll be followed by Patricia Charles if she is still here.

JESSICA HIGGINS: Thank you. My name is Jessica Higgins and I am a concerned parent, past elementary school teacher, and a member of my local PTO. I am here to support Bill 5078.

I believe in standards. I believe in teacher assessment. I believe in differentiation of learning to meet all students' educational needs. I believe in local, community-led control of education. I believe in holding students, parents, teachers and school districts all equally accountable for student performance of schools.

I believe that education is a delicate partnership between parents, students, teachers and school districts.

I believe that poverty, life experiences and how a child grew up truly matters.

I believe that there should be more than one pathway through the educational system.

I believe in professional judgment, local experience, moral responsibility and most importantly, ethical behaviors in creating educational standards and curriculum.

I believe in standards to be state led, teacher created and driven and locally assessed.

I believe that it is our non-conformity and creativity that put us at a global advantage.

I believe the strong public school system should capitalize on the diversity and creativity of its children and provide multiple pathways to success.

I believe in collaboration between schools and parents.

I believe that the school districts are now in the place to do what the higher levels of our government, both at the state and federal level have not done.

I believe in cognitively and developmentally appropriate education and assessments.

I believe in locally customized student evaluation that is supported by scientific evidence.

I believe in highlighting student strength and helping them to further develop those strengths.

I believe that schools should be a place to encourage creativity, innovation, empathy, problem solving, strategizing, all of which will lead to cognitively nimble students and adults.

I believe that every child is different and that their differences should be celebrated. We are the third most populous nation with 320 million people, with 40 different languages and dialects, living in seven different time zones, seven different geographical regions, sorry, six time zones, with 11 different climates. We also have one of the largest and most complex economies, I'm almost done, yet we are expected to believe that it is best that 50 states have only one educational curriculum and standardized tests. How is this possible in a country so diverse?

Did you know that statistically speaking, the students community demographics account for 40, 60 percent of the result and the schools can't change that and they can't control it. Poverty, life experiences and how a child grows up matter more than a test score.

My two children are worth so much more than a test score and because of that, we are choosing to opt our children out because the state has not provided that for us.


JESSICA HIGGINS: And I was a past educator.

REP. FLEISCHMANN: Are there questions for the witness? If not, thank you very much for your time and your patience and your testimony. Patricia Charles, to be followed, if she's still here by Rhona Villanova. Welcome.

PATRICIA CHARLES: Thank you. I'm Pat Charles. I'm Superintendent in Middletown, and I would like to express my deep concern about H.B. 5078. As written, this bill jeopardizes the funding to our neediest children in our poorest districts.

Middletown's an Alliance School District. Our Alliance funds finance teachers, coaches, materials, supports that are directly tied to Common Core, and as I read the bill, anything that is tied to Common Core could be stopped immediately if this were to go through and that would be absolutely devastating to our district.

Additionally, if we revert back to old curricula, that would negate all the work that we have done. Our teachers have worked tirelessly in developing curricula that's aligned to the Common Core and Middletown public schools has devoted professional development over the last three years to meeting these standards.

We're proud of our success. We've designed lessons and made those standards meaningful and increased the critical thinking and the problem-solving skills of our students and we've been doing this on, let me tell you, a shoestring, really.

And if we place the moratorium on the Common Core, that would be terrible because this work would stop and we would feel like all of that work would be for nothing.

Additionally, we need your help in adequate funding so that we can continue that work and continue with the professional development that we need in order to implement it properly.

I do support the bill, however, that, in that it provides a more measured approach to implementing Smarter Balance. We need to find a solution that provides the research and the study of the Smarter Balance assessment and ensure that they are valid and reliable measures of student achievement.

We must implement Smarter Balance after it's been vetted. The field tests are required but if we do it, could we do it with a smaller group of students perhaps. I know that other states have successfully done that, and I'd like to see that the decoupling of the teacher evaluation to effect results continue until again, we know that it's fair and valid.

So finally, I'm asking, please support our professional development, our research to make that the Common Core's developments be appropriate, that SBAC is valid and reliable, decouple teacher evaluation, and please don't halt the funding to our district.

REP. FLEISCHMANN: Thank you for your testimony at this late hour. Are there questions? Senator Bartolomeo.

SENATOR BARTOLOMEO: Thank you, Mr. Chair and thank you, Pat. As one of the districts I represent and as the Superintendent there, we've had many, many conversations about all of this, and one of the things I realized as I have been sitting here today is, although I know that you said it's about a million dollars in the last three years dedicated to Common Core, that's above and beyond the Alliance grant that directly cost to your district, and I know some of that is about preparing to be able to take the SBACs.

What I'm wondering is, how close are you as a district to being able to have the network ready for the testing and the band width and all of that, and do you require, or do you expect additional funding to get there?

PATRICIA CHARLES: We will be able to administer the tests. I'm confident that we are going to be able to do that. We worked very hard. We were able to get some of the technology money in the last go around, so I'm confident that we will be able to do it.

But we have to rearrange lots of classes, particularly at the high school level in order to have the classrooms and enough lap top carts available.

Would it go more smoothly with more technology? Absolutely. But will we be able to do it? Yes.

REP. FLEISCHMANN: Thank you. Representative Giuliano.

REP. GIULIANO: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Just briefly, Pat, I wanted to thank you for a very measured testimony at this very, very late hour. I've always known you to be such a conscientious school administrator and I think you have provided the Committee with the kind of balance that we are seeking this evening. Just wanted to say thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

REP. FLEISCHMANN: Thank you. Other comments or questions? Thank you very much for your testimony, your patience, your professionalism. Is Rhona Villanova still in the room? If not, how about Ray Rabago? George Coleman. I don't see him still here. Christine Campbell. Come on down.

CHRISTINE CAMPBELL: Hello. Thank you very much. I'd like to say a little bit about myself. I'm here as a mom tonight. I have two children that are ten and eight years old, a fifth grader and a second grader. I've been very active in my children's school. I've volunteered at their school for the past seven and a half years, five of which were once a week all school year long in the classroom. I am a PTO treasurer. I am a very involved parent.

I just would like to share an email with you that I wrote to my superintendent last week as I've become more educated on this Common Core.

I am from the Thompson town, Thompson public schools and our superintendent is Michael Jolin. My letter said, Dear Dr. Jolin. Hello. I have been doing a lot of research about the Common Core and have been working very hard to educate myself about it. I realize it is being forced upon everyone superintendents, administrators, teachers, et cetera because our state chose to accept it.

I just read two letters that were written by Connecticut superintendents to our Legislators regarding the ill effects of adopting these new standards. I have included the links below, that was the Madison superintendent and the East Lyme superintendent.

I am wondering where you stand on this. Do you agree that this is not a good move for our school? If so, are you willing to write to our Legislators as well? The more I read, the more concerned I become for my children. I pride myself with being so involved with my children's education and I want what is best for them. My children have always done well in school and have always enjoyed going to school.

I have to tell you that things have taken a negative shift this year. Both of my children are expressing their unhappiness and repeatedly tell me that they no longer want to go to school. They have so much being thrown at them that it is truly overwhelming for them. The schoolwork has become much more difficult this year due to this new curriculum we are developing and there is a dramatic increase in homework, which further reduces the short amount of time that they have to play and just be children.

I feel the teachers are being forced to accomplish so much in such a short amount of time that it just cannot be covered during the school day and the end result is a dramatic increase in homework.

I am very unhappy with these changes and it saddens me to see my young children no longer be excited to go to school. I look forward to hearing your thoughts and feelings on this critically important matter. Thank you for your time.

I do have a meeting tomorrow with my superintendent at 10:00 a.m., and I'd like to say a couple more things.

I think that H.B. 5078 needs to be approved, needs to be passed. We need to slow things down, do things slow and right, not fast and wrong. This is too much at one time to give our teachers to deal with between the evaluations and the Common Core.

I do not like the data collection aspect. We cannot treat all districts the same. My school district is fantastic. I understand that there are districts that don't have possibly as high standards as mine does.

I do not like the parents were kept in the dark for so long and all of a sudden this is being thrown at everyone, and I will be opting my children out.

REP. FLEISCHMANN: Thank you very much for that concise and impassioned testimony. Are there questions from members of the Committee? If not, thank you very much.

CHRISTINE CAMPBELL: May I ask one question?

REP. FLEISCHMANN: No, that's now how this process works, I'm sorry.

If you have someone who's your State Representative or Senator who's here, you can approach him individually but, give testimony and then Committee members ask the questions.

CHRISTINE CAMPBELL: May I say one sentence?

REP. FLEISCHMANN: Please, go ahead and say one sentence.

CHRISTINE CAMPBELL: I'm just disappointed that no one has asked any parent any question up here unless it was a problem with a district. It's disappointing.

REP. FLEISCHMANN: I'm sorry that you're disappointed but I don't that observation is fully accurate. Senator Boucher.

SENATOR BOUCHER: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Actually, on that point, the hour is very long and we didn't want to belabor it by asking repetitive questions again, but since you're here, I did actually have a question on your part.

Have you, with your children, actually experienced the Common Core curriculum personally with your child, and if you have, what was that personal experience for you?

CHRISTINE CAMPBELL: I have two experiences with both of my children. My son is in second grade. This is not affecting him as dramatically as it is my daughter in fifth grade. She's in middle school this year and in the beginning of the school year I thought what was happening with her, the unhappiness, the tears doing two hours of homework a night, I thought it was middle school, you know the stress, the peer pressure.

It's not turning out to be that. It's turning out to be that she's expected to do sixth grade, seventh grade level work and she's in fifth grade. It's not appropriate. It's too much to ask of her.

You know, the children, they have their whole school day. They get up, she gets up at 6:10 in the morning, she goes to school, she comes home, she goes to dance for two hours a week, three days a week and then she comes home to two hours of homework and then an hour for supper, a half hour for supper. It's a very long day.

SENATOR BOUCHER: Thank you very much for that. Do you feel that if she had had three or four years prior to that as a build up to that curriculum it might have been easier for her?

CHRISTINE CAMPBELL: I do. And that's why I think it needs to be slowed down and implemented. I have been here since 9:10 this morning. I feel so passionate about this. It needs to be slowed down. I can't speak for my elementary principal, but she has talked to me and my superintendent spoke to me briefly last week and I don't want to publicly say what they shared with me, I don't feel I should, but I know the teachers, the consensus of all the teachers in the elementary school is to slow things down.

This is too fast, too much.

SENATOR BOUCHER: Thank you very much. You made that very powerful message in a very passionate way. I appreciate your staying here all of this time.

CHRISTINE CAMPBELL: Thank you very much.

REP. FLEISCHMANN: Is Alexander, Alexandra Dufresne still here? Oh, wow.


REP. FLEISCHMANN: You're showing real staying power tonight. Welcome.

ALEXANDRA DUFRESNE: I'm so happy to be here. Thank you for staying.

REP. FLEISCHMANN: You will be followed by Jack Bryant if he's still here.

ALEXANDRA DUFRESNE: Hi. So I'm Alexandra Dufresne. I'm a staff attorney at the Center for Children's Advocacy, which is a nonprofit law firm that's dedicated to protecting the legal rights of the state's most vulnerable children.

I'm one of the child protection attorneys, which means that my job is to represent abused and neglected children. I'm appointed by the Juvenile Court. I have clients all the way from newborns to 18-year-olds.

I'm not here for the Common Core today. I'm here to show my strong support for Senate Bill 424, which would require the Department of Children and Families to enroll all pre-school aged children in a high quality pre-school, the high quality or an eligible pre-schools defined in the bill.

I saw the testimony that was submitted two weeks ago on the Governor's pre-school bill and I know many of you are the strongest advocates for pre-school in the state. I'm not going to go through that data. You know it much, much better than I do.

What I want to do is share a little bit of past experience and then give the little bit that shows how these children are differently situated from other children in our state.

Just a benchmark, the staff that we've been talking to, because I was the one who did the data request at DCF about the 44 percent, the number that came back was that 44 percent of the kids are currently enrolled in pre-school.

To benchmark that you probably are familiar with statewide, the rate is 80 percent. Even the poorest DRGs, in DRG I, we're talking about 69 percent in DRG A was 95 percent, an average of 85 percent. DCF is hitting about 44 percent. It might be that in fact more children are enrolled and I hope that's the case, but DCF isn't able to say. We basically don't have a way of counting of where their children are, where their pre-schoolers are and whether they're enrolled.

The second thing I want to talk about these kids is that the total number that we're talking about that we would like to see pre-school for is extremely small number, because the number of kids who are actually committed to the State of Connecticut is extremely small.

DCF has done a fantastic job recently in bringing down the numbers, fantastic. We want to commend the department for that. So the total population is 395 children.

If you take the percentage who are not yet in pre-school we're talking about 220 children, 220 children. Just to put that in perspective, the state's Race to the Top application says that already, Connecticut is serving 22,000 children of this age group in high quality learning environments. That's fantastic. Connecticut is doing great.

I'm just asking for slots for the 220 kids who are my kids on my caseload. And like my colleague said so forcefully, I'm so moved by all the parents who are here. When you talk about who these kids parents are, by definition the Department of Children and Families is the parent of these children, and I don't just mean metaphorically or symbolically. It is legally the parent. A private actor does not have the authority to step in here.

These biological parents have forfeited their right due the very abuse, neglect. A foster parent does not have the legal authority to enroll the child in pre-school. The only entity that has that legal right, that has a monopoly on the education rights of these children is the Department of Children and Families. Thank you so much.

REP. FLEISCHMANN: Thank you, and this Committee recognizes the truth of what you just said. That's why the bill is before us. Are there questions from members of the Committee? If not, thank you very much for your advocacy and your testimony and your patience.

ALEXANDRA DUFRESNE: Thank you so much. Good night. Thank you.

REP. FLEISCHMANN: Is Jack Bryant still here? How about Robert Cotto? Jennifer Herz. Welcome.

JENNIFER HERZ: Thank you. Good evening, Senator Bye, Representative Fleischmann, Representative Ackert, Senator Boucher, I am Jennifer Herz, Assistant Counsel at CBIA, which is the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, and I am here tonight for the top concern for Connecticut's employers as a pipeline of talent in Connecticut, and that is why CBIA opposes this bill that would delay the Common Core standards.

I've submitted my written testimony, but I just wanted to highlight two pieces of that. The first is that the Common Core allows employers to be confident that graduating students have the skills they need to be successful in the workforce, and that is key.

So regardless of where that student graduates from, employers in Connecticut can be confident that they're coming to them with the skills that they're ready to take on the workforce challenges.

Secondly, this is really important, because employers need a talented workforce of graduates that continue to innovate and grow in Connecticut.

Right now we're hearing from our members, employers in Connecticut, they need the talent pipeline desperately. We strongly agree that the Common Core can help achieve that.

One of Connecticut's best competitive advantages is our talented workforce, and we have to continue to rise in that area, as I said, to remain competitive in this global economy to continue to innovate and grow here in Connecticut.

And with that, I will leave it short and sweet. I'm happy to answer any questions you may have.

REP. FLEISCHMANN: Brevity is much appreciated at this hour. Are there questions from members of the Committee? Representative Ackert.

REP. ACKERT: And brevity will continue on my part. Jennifer, thanks. You made a mention that, you know, higher standards and workforce development in regards to, you know, the businesses in Connecticut, you know.

Sometimes I think we have some great talent in Connecticut. I know we do, but we keep saying that our businesses can't find the workforce to support their jobs.

Has CBIA correlated these Common Core standards with some benchmark that businesses are, the knowledge that businesses need, because I always think of internships or tech schools in terms of workforce development. Has CBIA researched that?

JENNIFER HERZ: So I think it's a two-pronged effort, right? So, you know, on one side we have the Common Core that's strong in math and science and things like that and we know that, especially in manufacturing and many other sectors are needed in a workforce today.

I mean, you enter a manufacturing establishment and it's not the same thing as your grandfather. You're going to see a lot of computers and high tech equipment that you really need these rigorous standards at the base level in order to achieve a successful career.

Secondly, to your point, absolutely. We need to also pursue internships and apprenticeships in all these things and you know, as a lot of other folks spoke to tonight, this isn't the only answer to achieving that pipeline that we want in Connecticut. This is one piece of that puzzle and we think it's a very important piece of that.

REP. ACKERT: Thank you, Jennifer. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

REP. FLEISCHMANN: Thank you. Representative Kokoruda.

REP. KOKORUDA: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Very briefly, really, just to add on what Representative Ackert just asked you. You know, we've heard so often that businesses weren't connecting with the education world and we really weren't training and teaching our kids things that really, really, you folks, CBIA's members had said they needed.

So are you saying that with, I know you're in support of the Common Core and of course we're all in support of higher standards, that CBIA has connected with the Common Core curriculums of these different municipalities and that they are the right match for them for future jobs? Has CBIA weighed in on these curriculums? Thank you.

JENNIFER HERZ: So it's my understanding that the Common Core is really a set of standards that every district curriculum will be distinct onto itself, so certainly I could not speak to any particular curriculum.

But as far as the standards are concerned, certainly we support those standards they're putting place to move Connecticut forward.

REP. FLEISCHMANN: Thank you. Any further questions? If not, thank you for your testimony.


SENATOR BYE: Okay. Next up is Bob Trefry, followed by Lindy Urso. Is Lindy here?

Are you Bob?


SENATOR BYE: No. Bob is not.

LINDY URSO: I'm Lindy.

SENATOR BYE: Okay, Lindy. Welcome. You've been very patient, sir. Thank you.

LINDY URSO: My name is Lindy Urso. I'm from Cos Cob. I'm a father of two young boys four and two and I'm an attorney, practicing attorney. I'm new to researching this stuff. Obviously, my four-year-old is about a year and a half away from dealing with any of this stuff. I'm new, but I'm also it looks like a little bit late, but I can tell you from everything I've learned in the last month or so when I really delve into this it scares the hell out of me for my kid and for my country.

Let's just start with the process, how this thing came into being here in Connecticut and in every other state. It was basically foisted upon the states without any input from the people, either directly or through the Legislature.

Two politicians, the Department of Ed and the Governor, they signed a contract. Bam. Our entire education system is turned upside down just like that.

Now, the reason you're getting pushed back now and not then is because nobody really knew what it was. The public is gullible. They're trusting. They think well, higher standards, that's great. Common Core sounds great.

It's only now when people are seeing what it really is, that you're getting push back and I can tell you the push back is national and it's just starting. If you think this is a little group of crazy parents, you've got another thing coming because the ground swell is just beginning.

And we know how, not only with the unrepresented, the way this was put into place, but we know that hundreds of millions of dollars were spent in Bill Gates money as well as federal bribe money Race to the Top. These are facts. These aren't theories.

And I was at, I sat here all day and I was at that one-sided hearing you had on February 28th, basically a sham I'd call that because instead of having somebody like Sandra Stotsky to show the other side, we just had Mr. Pryor and that paid shill from the CCSS, Mr. Minitch, where he attempted to pull the wool over your eyes and it seems to be successful on some counts because he just kept saying, and you hear it all day today from different parties.

Oh, the stakeholders were involved. These are higher standards, these are rigorous standards. The stakeholders were never involved. They were never involved in the creation of Common Core. Mr. Pryor testified that a couple of times that all it was was drafts were sent back and forth between the Department of Ed and the Common Core people, whoever they are. We don't even know who wrote these things.

So no stakeholders were involved from Connecticut or anywhere else. We don't know who wrote it. Sandra Stotsky told you that.

If nothing else, if you do nothing else this entire day, read Sandra Stotsky's written testimony. It's chilling. And she's an insider without an axe to grind other than her lifelong dedication to education, unlike Mr. Minitch.

Higher standards. There's no basis for that. Mr. Minitch has never, or Pryor, never provided any basis for that claim that these are higher standards, or that they're rigorous.

Just because an adult can't pass a five-year-old Smarter Balance test doesn't mean it's rigorous. It means it's ridiculous and it's inappropriate. It doesn't mean it's rigorous.

They're provided no basis. They keep saying the same words over and over again, and eventually they just become fact. Representative Fleischmann's been using these testimony from February 28th to correct testimony.

If I can just wrap up, and the Smarter Balance test. Who wrote that? Who writes that? Connecticut has no input in this test. It's beyond me how we can have a test where Connecticut, no teachers, nobody's involved in this test. We don't even know who does it.

Anyone listening or reading the work of Sandra Stotsky after reading that, I'm certain that this is going to dumb down America. It's not going to be, and Common Core by the way, just like No Child Left Behind, just like Patriot Act. It sounds great, but in practice it's a disaster.

The movement to centrally control education started 30 years ago with the creation of a National Education Association and in a mere 30 years with the unwitting or witless help of you know, countless people like Mr. Pryor and these other you know, self-interested, upwardly mobile administrators, they managed to pull this off to this stage.

I urge you. Listen to the parents and listen to the teachers, teachers who submitted you testimony, who are largely afraid to come out and speak in public. The parents and the teachers are the most important stakeholders and that's who you need to listen to.

And like I said, this is, I promise you, this is just the beginning. Thank you.

SENATOR BYE: Thank you. I, too am from Greenwich, so nice to have another Greenwich right here. Anybody? Another someone from Greenwich. Before West Hartford was the center of the universe. Representative Walko.

REP. WALKO: Thank you. Mr. Urso, I know you've been here all day. You've heard the testimony. You've heard the various points of view, statements going back and forth.

But as a parent with kids about to enter the school systems, what would you want the Legislature to do regarding both Common Core and then teacher assessment?

LINDY URSO: Look, I think personally, I think we should scrap the entire thing and start over with something localized, something from the state involving state educators.

At minimum, I would say, I mean, we talk about Common Core but the Smarter Balance assessment may be the head of the snake here. I mean, we don't, this is an online test administered by God knows who? We don't know after all this testimony, all these big experts, we don't know who's administering this test. We don't who's writing the questions. We don't know anything about it and this is the big test.

They're telling you, they're telling you that the local boards can write the curriculum. I'm sure that's true. But they have to write it to conform to that test because they're going to be judged on that test.

So the test is the key, and we don't know anything about that test. We don't know who wrote it. We don't know, again, I mean, we're part of this consortium of 35 states but there's no testimony, no evidence that we have any input into that test.

It's absurd. It's crazy. So if you're going to do something, and you know, I'd like, it's too bad I wasn't able to speak earlier. Maybe you could have asked Mr. Pryor or some of these other people who are strong proponents, what if we scrapped the Smarter Balance? Keep the Common Core that so beautiful and so great and we just scrap the Smarter Balance and we create our own test.

I'd love to see their reaction to that because that may be the solution. You know, let's create our own test like we have forever.

SENATOR BYE: Thank you for that. Anything else, Representative?

REP. WALKO: No. Thank you.

SENATOR BYE: Other questions? Thank you. Yes, Representative Molgano.

REP. MOLGANO: Thank you, Madam Chair. Hello, Mr. Urso. Thank you for your testimony.

LINDY URSO: Hi, Representative Molgano, how are you?

REP. MOLGANO: You were talking about how to stop Greenwich and they said they've been implementing this for a few years now. Have you had any contact with teachers or administrators in your area, have any personal responses? No names, of course.

LINDY URSO: No, no. I have, I'm learning actually from Mr. Walko as far as I'm not up to speed on the town and how they've come along with implementing it but it sounds like they're a little further along than I'd like.

But I have spoken informally to probably a dozen teachers, most of which are from Greenwich and I have not talked to one who's not staunchly opposed to what's going on here. Not just the teacher evaluation.

But there, there seems to be a culture but they're afraid to speak out. I don't know what that's about. Again, I'm new to this whole thing. Maybe they're paranoid or maybe there's something to it, but there does seem to be a fear on behalf of these teachers to come out and speak publicly against this.

I don't know what that is, but I can tell you, informally, at least a dozen teachers all strongly oppose and I haven't found one that's in favor of it.

REP. MOLGANO: Thank you.

SENATOR BYE: Thank you, Representative. Any other questions? Well, thank you for your patience.

LINDY URSO: Thank you very much.

SENATOR BYE: Ed McKeon still here? Isa Mujahid. Welcome.

ISA MUJAHID: Good evening, Senator Stillman, Representative Fleischmann and distinguished members of the Education Committee. My name is Isa Mujahid. I'm the Field Organizer for the ACLU of Connecticut and I'm here to support Senate Bill 423 AN ACT CONCERNING STUDENT PRIVACY AND THE ADMINISTRATION OF THE ARMED SERVICES VOCATIONAL APTITUDE BATTERY.

This bill would ensure that parents and students decide whether they want students' detailed personal information since the military recruiters, a decision that is now left to school administrators or military recruiters themselves.

This is a matter of social and personal concern to me as both a parent and a veteran of the U.S. Army.

The ASVAB is a three and a half hour test offered to high school sophomores, juniors and seniors as a career exploration tool. Students must provide their social security numbers, telephone numbers, home addresses, sex, ethnic group identification and intentions after graduation. If they don't provide that information their tests will not be scored.

During the 2012-13 school year in Connecticut over half of the students tested, 56.1 percent, have sensitive, personal information released to military recruiters without the opportunity for parents to object to the disclosure.

The ASVAB is a recruiting tool for the military that provides the Department of Defense unfettered access to private student information that allows recruiters to target and communicate with impressionable minors without parental supervision.

School administrators decide what information from the test will be shared with recruiters by selecting one of eight recruiter release options. All but one of these options authorize the release of student information without the consent of either the parents or the students.

Option 8 states that access to student information is not provided to recruiting services and it's the only selection school administration can make to protect their students' information.

This bill requires administrators to select that nondisclosure option, now known as Option 8, which appropriately protects sensitive and private student information collected during the administration of the ASVAB from being disclosed to military recruiters without the informed consent of students and parents.

The No Child Left Behind Act provides a mechanism for parents to keep their child's personal information confidential. The parents or a student over the age of 18 may fill out a form instructing schools not to release even the student's directory information, that is their name, address and telephone number to military recruiters.

Yet that form does not cover the ASVAB results overriding the direct request for exemption from the release of the directory information. The schools can and do release far more personal information in the ASVAB results.

Again, unless school administrators have selected Option 8 and FRAP, the Family Educational Rights Privacy Act does not protect ASVAB scores and personal information that's provided during the testing of ASVAB due to a technicality.

No parental consent is required for a student--

SENATOR BYE: Please summary.


SENATOR BYE: Thank you.

ISA MUJAHID: No parental consent is required for a student to sit and take the ASVAB, so release of this information occurs not only without the specific permission, but often without the parents' knowledge.

Other states and cities have enacted administrative regulations, this is Maryland, Hawaii, New York City, Los Angeles, San Diego city, and I'll just add that in Hawaii and Maryland, where there's universal Option 8, they've actually seen ASVAB participation increase, so it's not about ending the ASVAB. It's about protecting students' privacy and allowing students and parents to make that decision to pursue.

SENATOR BYE: Thank you for your patience and I know you've been listening to a lot of other things, but this is a really important bill as well, so thank you for hanging in there. Any questions? Yes, Representative Ackert. Oh, I'm sorry. (Inaudible). Representative Ackert.

REP. ACKERT: Thank you for your testimony and thank you for your service. You mentioned the ASVAB test, which many of us took, and I went in the military so I had to take the test.

Is there a large percentage of those people that take the test just to take the test, and then don't enter the military service?

ISA MUJAHID: Well, we don't have any scientific data, just anecdotal evidence that, you know, just imagine you're a high school sophomore and you have the choice between going to assembly and taking this multiple choice test and sitting in class.

So often, students will, you know, opt in and take the test, you know, just to get out of class. You now, they may or may not have the intentions on joining the military, and sometimes there may be a miscommunication in the way the test is presented where the student may think it's a mandatory test, not knowing that it's a separate and optional test and they also may have no desire to pursue a military career or service.

REP. ACKERT: So it's treated somewhat different than an SAT test, then?

ISA MUJAHID: In what regards?

REP. ACKERT: SATs are typically, you know, a lot of them are taken on a Saturday, you know, volunteer basis rather than in a, taking time away from class.

ISA MUJAHID: To my knowledge, they are taken during the school day.

REP. ACKERT: Thank you for your testimony. Thank you, Madam Chair.

SENATOR BYE: Thank you. Representative Molgano.

REP. MOLGANO: Thank you, Madam Chair. Welcome. And I, too want to thank you for your service to our country.

I'm nave on this. I just have a quick question. If Connecticut were to pass this, is there any jeopardy to these young folks in the recruitment process if this information is not shared?

ISA MUJAHID: No, there isn't. I believe the test is good for up to two years after it's taken, and so the student with their parent or by themselves after they reach the age of 18 have up to, have two years at least to go to a recruiter, say I've taken this test and I want to see what my options are.

And even within the military policy themselves had something here. They are as explicit in the United States Military Entrance Practice Command that students who take the test who, where the district (inaudible) Option 8 should not be treated any differently than students where their information is shared right away. So there should be no jeopardy.

SENATOR BYE: Thank you, and thank you for your answers. We really appreciate you staying. Have a great night.

ISA MUJAHID: Thank you.

SENATOR BYE: Have a good morning. I meant to say good morning. Next is Joseph Dickerson, to be followed by Dave Glidden. Followed by Ken Valentine? Is Dave?

GEORGE GOULD: I'm not Dave Glidden.

SENATOR BYE: Are you Joseph?

GEORGE GOULD: But I am supposed to be up here with him. We were going to combine our, we both handed in testimony and we were going to combine but he had to leave, so.

SENATOR BYE: Okay, great.

GEORGE GOULD: So good morning. My name is George Gould. I am a resident of West Hartford. Well, anyway, good morning to the members of the Education Committee. I'm also a union representative for the Connecticut Paraprofessional Educators, paraprofessional educators at CSEA-SEIU 2001 and I am submitting this testimony in support of Bill Number 5523.

I've been a staff representative for many years and I have represented paraprofessionals for all of those years and it's about time that this bill came to pass because today paras have evolved from being moms in the classroom to working with the most challenging and most difficult children in the school system.

Today's paraprofessionals provide job training for students transitioning into the community. They work with children in early childhood programs, students in the autism spectrum, children that are hearing and sight impaired, children with developmental disabilities as well as the medically fragile.

Today's paraprofessional helps to diffuse disruptive students in the classroom and it even provides toileting service to help keep children in the mainstream of education.

Today's paraprofessionals work with such a diverse group of students and perform such a wide range of tasks that their work has become an integral part of the fabric of our education system in Connecticut.

Our members, like our teachers, want an even better education for Connecticut's children. We need to study and develop a best practices approach for our education specialists in the classroom so that they can have the appropriate staffing levels and training to meet the needs of the students they serve.

Anecdotally, I can't say the word, anecdotally, paras are more than occasionally assigned to students without specific information concerning the child's needs or knowing the issues established in IEPs or 504s and without the training necessary to meet those needs.

Because of the diversity of, so let me go back just a second. I'm going to see if I can paraphrase this so I can speed the process up a little bit.

But one of the things that's lacking is getting paraprofessionals access to the information that's in IEPs and 504s. They often wind up getting in situations where they will be assigned a specific thing to do and wind up having to redo the whole IEP or the 504 because the expertise that they had with the child in making that assignment or that plan out, has been lacking from the discussion and the interaction that takes place in those planning sessions.

Because of the diversity of the assignments and the gradations of those work assignments, it's necessary for the Committee to look at also a development of a career ladder.

We lose people out of the process. There are paraprofessionals that are, have teacher certification and become certified, just so that they can wind up with a job in the school system the following year and so just in closing --

REP. FLEISCHMANN: George, if you could summarize, please.

GEORGE GOULD: We believe that Connecticut should set the bar for paraprofessionals and be willing to go beyond what other states have done in developing staffing standards. The correct usage of paraprofessionals in the classroom would turn the greatest educational bargain in Connecticut into the best educational system ever. Thank you very much.

REP. FLEISCHMANN: Thank you for your testimony and your patience. Are there questions? Senator Bartolomeo.

SENATOR BARTOLOMEO: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Do you represent the paraprofessionals statewide or in a specific area or district?

GEORGE GOULD: We represent about 2,500 paraprofessionals across the state.

SENATOR BARTOLOMEO: Statewide. So do you find there to be a problem statewide, or am I just hearing about problems in certain districts related to classroom paraprofessionals being put in a position when a teacher is absent, a substitute not being called in and the para has to take over the classroom.

Is that something that is maybe, I'm just hearing about in certain districts, or is that a statewide problem?

GEORGE GOULD: I don't know that that's really a problem. I mean, from my experience, I think that paraprofessionals can be used as substitutes and probably in a more effective way than substitutes can be used.

And the reason I say that is because the paraprofessional works with the kids that are in that classroom. They understand the needs and the program of those children and oftentimes when a substitute comes in, they haven't been there for you know, they come in every other day or sometimes not for weeks, and they are not aware of the students' needs and the program that they're in and they're often guided or even led by the paraprofessional that's in the room anyway.

SENATOR BARTOLOMEO: Great. And that's a very important point, and I can see them almost taking on that lead position, but then there's the challenge that has been presented to me is, there's just not enough, there's not enough people in the room in a sense.

So the specific situation that came to me is a special education pre-school classroom and when the teacher was absent, the para is in the position of the principal doesn't call in a teacher or substitute, so it's one para with about eight children severely disabled, some not even ambulatory and you know, but maybe that's just a district problem or a specific area.

GEORGE GOULD: It's not a district problem. From our experience, that's pretty much a statewide problem, all over, just about every school system that I deal with has that kind of an issue where paras are put in classrooms by themselves.

SENATOR BARTOLOMEO: Okay, so I'm just clarifying because at first you had said not necessarily a problem, and now, but just the fact of sheer not enough hands in a classroom.


SENATOR BARTOLOMEO: Okay, Thank you, sir.

REP. FLEISCHMANN: Thank you. Any further questions? If not, thank you very much for your testimony, your time and your patience.

Is Ken Valentine still here? Ken is to be followed by Sylvia Henderson, if she's still here.

KEN VALENTINE: Good morning, Senator Fleischmann --

REP. FLEISCHMANN: Good morning. Thank you for your patience.

KEN VALENTINE: -- Co-Chair Senator Bye. Representative Ackert, nice to see you. To the members of the panel, you look like the last period on a Friday afternoon. I know that look. So I'm not going to read to you.

I'm going to go over some points. We've heard two hot topics tonight. I will not address the Common Core. It may be that in time the Common Core will be the high tide that raises all boats.

What I will talk is, or address is the other side of the equation, the teacher evaluation.

And unfortunately, there is not one positive thing that I can say about this initiative as it has unfolded for us.

I'm going to try to address it through costs, both implicit and explicit costs. I'm going to begin with, well, with the costs, I'm going to talk about teachers, students and taxpayers, and try to do something that we haven't talked about tonight.

With respect to the teachers, they are certainly our most valuable asset when it comes to the education of our children. I address my staff, and I am the principal of Stafford Middle School, by the way, I should have clarified that, at the very beginning of the year. I told them that this would be a year unlike any they've seen. I didn't realize I was understating.

The teacher from West Hartford a few weeks ago talked about, and I will read this because I want to get her quote right.

Stripping the joy out of teaching and doing nothing to help children. Those were here words. But she was addressing the fact that she feels like the new evaluation program is taking, ripping the heart out of teaching, and I have seen, 42 years in this business, 27 of them as a principal, 20 in my present assignment, I have seen a discouraged bunch of teachers, and I have a great staff I'm very proud of.

I have seen them demoralized. I have seen them depleted of their normal level of enthusiasm, attributed directly to this.

What I'm beginning to see across the board is, and I'm going to add before, kind of a disregard. They're reached the point where, whatever, just tell us what you want us to do. It's not about improving teaching.

Distraction, and this is important, and I would ask that you pay close attention to this. The new evaluation plan has the teachers devising ways to gather data, to compile that data to then present the data, which in turn, I do the same thing.

So everybody is putting together data to tell people how much we're doing and what a wonderful job we're doing, and it's taking away from doing that job.

I will quickly get to the others, because I mentioned students.

REP. FLEISCHMANN: You do need to summarize because the seventh period bell has rung.

KEN VALENTIN: Okay. I understand that, too. The buses are rolling. I think that with respect to students, we talked about stress. We talked about taking away their teachers for this training.

And then the taxpayer, you heard a gentleman from Enfield mention additional administrative support and I could go on and I would be happy to address any questions on what it is costing taxpayers of already stressed municipalities. Thank you.

REP. FLEISCHMANN: Thank you for that very grounded, real world perspective. Representative Ackert.

REP. ACKERT: Thank you. I just wanted to ask for that, that was my question before you mentioned it, but did you bring on, did you take on the evaluations of your staff with existing members, or did you bring in additional staff to support the evaluations, and which plan did you use on the evaluators? Was it the SEED or do you have your own?

KEN VALENTIN: No, we have our own. We're using the Staff Rubric for Teachers. We are on the plan that we are evaluating a third of our staff this year. We went into this building the program as we went along.

We have as a district, we put in money for additional administrative support because of the, it is a time consuming, very cumbersome process with the latest pause, they kind of let's hold up on this.

We took out the request that our district had for additional administrative support. So for the time being, we're going to go it alone with the changes that the Commissioner and the Legislature has called for.

REP. ACKERT: Thank you. Thank you for being here with us today and thank you, Mr. Chairman.

REP. FLEISCHMANN: Thank you. Any other questions? Senator Bartolomeo, to be followed by Senator Bye.

SENATOR BARTOLOMEO: Thank you, Mr. Chair. You know I hear you and I've heard from many others about the morale of teachers+ and long-time teachers and possibly losing some of our real seasoned teachers.

Do you, are you able to quantify that in any way, shape or form at this point in time, or is it too early? Have you had a higher than normal turnover rate or retirement rate, I guess I would say.

KEN VALENTINE: Retirement rate. You're seeing an increase in that, I believe. We've seen it in our, we're a small district. I think time will tell on the evaluation because we're still going through that first year and I don't know that if people are fully aware of how this will play out, how the data coming in, which is something that they don't have total control over, how that's going to play in.

I don't expect it is going to be an encouraging thing as this unfolds. I think there's going to be disgruntlement on it. I think a lot of what you heard tonight from people about the stress children are feeling. It's because of this stress staff is feeling and it's beginning to leach into that area.

So I think we are at the early stages of seeing how potentially damaging this plan can be.

SENATOR BYE: Thank you. And I'm going to say thank you for your testimony and I thought you were spectacular. Your teachers should be very happy you're representing them.

KEN VALENTINE: Well, this was required viewing for them tonight. So, I hope they're taking notes.

SENATOR BYE: My teacher wife is long asleep, but I can tell you.

KEN VALENTINE: We're going to play this on morning announcements.

SENATOR BYE: I can tell you, you just represented many dinners at my house. Someone who loves her job is feeling pretty demoralizing.

KEN VALENTINE: Thank you very much for your kind words.

REP. FLEISCHMANN: Thank you. Is Sylvia Henderson still here? How about Colleen Brodin.

COLLEEN BRODIN: Good morning. My name is Colleen Brodin and I'm the parent of a high school junior and a seventh grader in the public school system in Cheshire.

I'm asking you to vote no on H.B. 5078 as it is currently written. While I agree with the aim of delaying the Common Core and it's SBAC testing, there are several problems with the bill as it is written, and I respectfully request that it be rewritten to include the following important points.

First and foremost, there must be an investigation into how our children's right to privacy has been eroded and how it can be fixed through Connecticut Statutes.

In opting out of SBAC for my children, I was told that Commissioner Pryor has been assuring the schools that it fully FRAP compliant. But the fact is that that assurance is completely meaningless.

Back in November, I submitted a letter to the curriculum coordinator of Cheshire explaining my concerns regarding this loss of privacy, mentioning the specific statutes and was told that our district lawyer was unable to refute any of it.

For the purpose of tonight, I summarize. Despite the fact that all of Cheshire's data are served on our own servers by state law, much of the information on those servers is already provided to the state, and at some point over the next few years, the state will have direct access to it via SIF. It's School, I can't say it this late, Interoperability Framework.

According to FRAP, the state can re-disclose information that Cheshire shares with it, without Cheshire's permission. According to FRAP, that state can share personally identifiable information with for profit corporations. Then if those corporations share it with anyone else and they get caught, the punishment is that the state can't give them access to more personally identification information for five years.

This doesn't take back the information, though, or protect my kids from whoever those for profit corporations shared it with. The information is irretrievably out there. The state does not provide further protections for my children in its own statutes since the state law does not limit what data can be collected about our students.

The state law does not legally bind the Connecticut State Department of Education to protect our data. The State has not made clear who is authorized to see that data, and the state has not made its data privacy and security policies public.

REP. FLEISCHMANN: Could you please summarize.

COLLEEN BRODIN: So I will not continue with the rest of my testimony. You do have it front of you, but I do want to make clear that this is, the Cheshire lawyer could not say that this is not true. This is all real. Our information could be shared with other people without our permission. Thank you.

REP. FLEISCHMANN: Thank you. Questions? Senator Bartolomeo for a brief question.

SENATOR BARTOLOMEO: Thank you. I just want to ask you if you'd be willing to share your contact information with me as your Senator. We are going to be getting more information about this topic and the Chairs will share that, and I would be happy to reach out to you if you want to give me your contact information.

COLLEEN BRODIN: Sure. Absolutely. Thank you.

REP. FLEISCHMANN: Thank you. Any other questions? If not, thank you very much for your time, patience and testimony. Is John Bestor still here? How about Chris Simo-Kinzer? Robert Mitchell? Kathy Queen? Annie Zonnefeld? Jonathan Swan? Yam Nenon.

Donna Kosiwoski? I think Susan Austin already testified. Jacqueline Samuels. Patty Fusco already testified. Kathi Bleacher? Kiki Boyles? I think I'm going to have to do this a different way.

Jennifer Scanlon? Ellen Solak? Sabrina Garcia. Stacey Holmes. Kevin Smith? Jackie Aviles? Jennifer Straub? Susan Moore? It looks like we're reading a phone book. Lashawn Robinson? Blaise Messenger. Bruce Lott? We're moving faster than we have all day. Kristen Harmelins?

A VOICE: (Inaudible).

REP. FLEISCHMANN: Jill Jenkins? Denise Bard? Patricia Sorentino? Christina Kishimoto is not here. Kristie Bourdoulous. Kristie.


REP. FLEISCHMANN: Your time has come and you're representing, I think a lot of other members of your association who have left, so thank you for your patience.

KRISTIE BOURDOULOUS: Yes, I am. My name is Kristie Bourdoulous. I'm an Administrative Literacy Specialist and I'm here as a representative of the Norwich public school system. I am offering the following testimony in opposition to Act 5078.

I'm going to skip through because it's very late. It's actually tomorrow, almost. It is tomorrow.

We, I was started in education as a primary teacher. I also taught middle school. My last years, recent years in my career have served as a literacy coach and a curriculum specialist. Most of my career has been in priority school districts, most recently moving over to Norwich.

And I want you to know that when, in 2010 when we adopted the Common Core State Standards the work started. It started immediately and we began development of a Common Core State Standard aligned curriculum.

We started looking at our measures for instruction assessment and materials and in a very difficult district decision, we decided not to buy a textbook for fear of this day.

We didn't want to take a chance on a Common Core state stamped approval of a textbook and so we decided that we would not purchase a textbook because we wanted to be in control of our own curriculum to prepare our teachers and students to build knowledge through the content-rich non-fiction. One hundred percent of the Norwich public school's English language arts curriculum are grounded in the Common Core State Standards and often aligned to our science and social studies content area classes.

We thoughtfully equipped every classroom with relevant, high interest content based text that relate to the real world. These materials are specifically designed to meet the needs of students at various levels of reading and language proficiency and make sure that that content is accessible to all of our students.

Since August we have had staff developers every single month within our district providing teachers with imbedded professional development that often happens right within their classroom.

We also judiciously use our Alliance funding provided by the State Department of Education to purchase high-quality literature that supports our standards-based instruction in addition to the integration of literature and with the support of an expert in culturally responsive teaching.

We purchased and carefully selected literature that exposes our students to the various and diverse cultures within our community and outside of our community.

For example, when the kids are learning about the Revolutionary War in eighth grade in our language arts classrooms, and I will wrap this up, our kids are reading content connected literature, so they're reading about the Revolutionary War from the perspective of a heroine who is an African-American slave, and from her perspective.

We're measuring using the newer MAP here. We're not waiting for SBAC, so we started that already. We started that last spring.

We believe that the Common Core has equalized the playing field for our students across districts and set the stage for Connecticut to close the achievement gap.

Norwich, like many priority districts is under great pressure, difficult circumstances and a lack of fiscal resources to make the educational strides necessary to reduce that gap.

REP. FLEISCHMANN: If you could please summarize.

KRISTIE BOURDOULOUS: Yep. If Common Core, so I'll leave you with an analogy. If Common Core were the train, our kids are already on it. The train has left the station. It left the station a number of years ago. By imposing a moratorium, you are essentially asking us to stop, unload that train and put our kids on the platform while a decision is made about where to move next. And we really feel that we are on the right track for the first time in a long time, so we appreciate how late you've stayed and all the commentary that you've listened to.

REP. FLEISCHMANN: Thank you. We appreciate your use of metaphor, which is strongly encouraged under the Common Core standards.


REP. FLEISCHMANN: Are there any questions from members of the Committee? If not, thank you very much for your time --

KRISTIE BOURDOULOUS: Thank you. Have a good night.

REP. FLEISCHMANN: -- and patience, testimony and staying power. So there's one person left to testify. It's either Mike Galuzzo or Seth Kershner. Is there anyone else remaining in the room who has not testified who wishes to testify? Why don't you come forward, state your name and hometown for the record.

PATRICE THIBODEAU: Sure. Patrice Thibodeau. I just wanted a quick point of privilege, just to mention. I commend your stamina. Senator Linares ran the half marathon in the Hartford Marathon. I ran the 5-K. I realized tonight that if I'm going to ever run for public office it seems like I'm going to have to catch up.

REP. FLEISCHMANN: This is just an iron chair marathon. It's much easier. Please proceed with your testimony.

PATRICE THIBODEAU: So thank you, Chairman Fleischmann and Vice-Chair Bye. I'm Patrice Thibodeau. I'm just going to paraphrase and just get right to the point here.

I'm Patrice Thibodeau and my concern with Common Core standards is it tries to teach academic and (inaudible) uniform fashion as if everyone will process and retain the information the same way. But the reality is, this couldn't be further from the truth.

In fact, I, myself suffer from a condition known as convergence insufficiency, which greatly reduces my ability to retain information since my eyes would bounce involuntarily around the pages, text would become blurry and eye strain would lead to ultimately stress and a sense of failure.

Once I went to a behavioral optometrist who used special technology designed to train my eyes towards binocular vision hope became a possibility. I'm not paid by behavioral optometrists and I'm speaking on my own experiences and one who's helped me, but symptoms of children that may be classified as dyslexic, experience symptoms of ADHD and as well as other symptoms, may find out after testing to have eye (inaudible) convergence insufficiency or astigmatism of the eyes and may experience relief after seeing a behavioral optometrist.

Now don't get me wrong. Behavioral optometry isn't the end all approach and won't help every student suffering similar symptoms preventing them from excelling in their academic pursuits. It doesn't mean that every child that experiences certain symptoms has a problem with their eyes and once that's solved, the problem's solved.

But it makes the point that a uniform, one-way approach won't improve scores and overall academic performance if everyone isn't the same.

Really, this issue whether it's, Common Core's adopted or not, I think is important and should be researched and looked into. And the good news is, testing during early childhood development could prevent hundreds of thousands of children from suffering and being destined to frustration with not only reading, but schoolwork in general.

States like the Commonwealth of Virginia now test children during early childhood development to prevent children from suffering from the multiple eye problems, which may be solved with behavioral optometry.

Even in a recent interview on A Better Connecticut, Dr. Juanita Collier spoke about the benefits of vision therapy and on her website shows the progression of the success of Michelle, a fourth grade teacher's son Ethan, who dramatically improved his academic performance.

Even for those who may be concerned about affordability and for those families who currently can't afford this treatment, how can we even discuss reasonable policies such as possibly amending and adding vision therapy services to the HUSKY program if we don't test currently and don't identify those who may currently be experiencing these symptoms.

No child should be robbed of an education because they're different.

REP. FLEISCHMANN: Agreed. If you could please summarize.

PATRICE THIBODEAU: Sure. Definitely. Even our Governor Dan Malloy struggled with schoolwork but because of technology and the resources, was able to persevere, go to law school and accomplish much more.

And basically, Mr. Chairman, I'll just close with this. I hope the Committee will look into what other states are doing in regards to testing for eye problems such as convergence insufficiency in addition to the effectiveness or ineffectiveness of Common Core standards. Thank you.

And once again, like I said, regardless if it's Common Core standards or if it's a different system the only point is, I think that there are other students out there who are challenging through certain disabilities as we've already seen throughout this long process.

REP. FLEISCHMANN: Thank you, both for your testimony and for your drawing attention to the challenge that you've overcome so well, and certainly no one would ever guess that you had ever faced challenges reading or writing, giving (inaudible). Appreciate that.

Are there any questions for the witness? If not, thank you for your testimony.

Are there any other individuals in the room wishing to testify? If not, before I declare this public hearing closed, I just want to say, I'm very proud of this Committee. This was one of our longest public hearings and the attendance here at 12:36 a.m. is really strong and I think that speaks well for all of your commitment to public service as well as your ability to stay in a chair. So thank you very much to all of you and with that, I hereby declare this public hearing closed.