Significant Changes from the 2010 Legislative Session

Post date: May 7, 2010 3:49:53 PM

The Legislative Session ended yesterday, May 5, 2010, with significant changes, particularly a major reform bill that aims to give Connecticut an improved chance to get federal dollars in round two of the RTTT competition. CEA believes the reform legislation is good public policy in our continuous goal of improving the lives of children, teachers, and public education.

Please know that the legislature collapses much of its important work in the closing days of the session. It will take us a few days to go through each new piece of legislation with a fine-tooth comb. As we do, we will be sending you further information.

For now, we want you to know that the dangerous “Parent Trigger” bill was changed and redrafted into reasonable legislation that will create parent-teacher councils to recommend meaningful school reform.

In case you are asked questions, we ask you to review the specifics below as they relate to the RTTT reform legislation:

Teacher Evaluation A new phrase, “multiple indicators of student academic growth,” will be added to the statutory language that already exists on teacher evaluation. CEA suggested the term indicators rather than measures because much of what teachers do does not lend itself to measures. In addition, a complex data system will be created including such factors as student attendance, class size, mobility, and school readiness to properly assess the true contributions made by teachers to students’ growth. The data system was also recommended by CEA.

High School Reform This would impose more rigorous requirements on students for high school graduation. It adds course requirements, requires students to demonstrate knowledge of course content through examinations, and mandates the completion of a capstone project by high school students. The very first graduating class this would affect would be 2018.

Pilot for Early High School Completion In a limited number of districts, upon demonstration of mastery of course requirements through an examination at the end of Grade 10, students will be able to complete courses in community colleges for two years and earn college credits. An even more rigorous examination at the end of four years would qualify any student for admission to an elite university.

Innovation Schools In priority school districts, by mutual agreement of the board and association, an Innovation School may be created. Representatives of the association are on the design team for the school to determine how it will function along with other stakeholders. Any changes in the collective bargaining agreement have to be agreed upon by 2/3 of the members in the school. Moreover, the collective bargaining agreement of the district cannot be impinged upon by actions taken at the school level. Innovation schools, which are listed as a possibility in Race to the Top, have some similarities to our CommPACT Schools.

Tenure If a teacher has achieved tenure and chooses to go to work in a Priority School District, he or she may then obtain tenure in that new district in 10 months.

Alternate Route to Certification for Administrators The alternate route to certification to become an administrator will be open to those with 40 months teaching experience (at least 10 of which has to be in a public school). Individuals entering the program will have to have a B.A. with an expectation that they will receive a M.A. within five years.

Re-Employment of Retired Teachers Retired teachers in priority school districts may be hired in any subject for up to one year. Employment may be extended for a second year on the condition that the school district provided evidence to the State Teachers’ Retirement Board that no qualified active teachers are available. Previously, this requirement was only in an administrative agency and now it is in statute. Therefore, it should become easier to ensure enforcement.

Charter Schools The State Board of Education may now approve new charter schools even if there are no available appropriations. However, it would still be necessary for the legislature to appropriate funds in order for the schools to operate. The cap of 85 students per grade would be removed for high performing schools, but again it would still be necessary for the legislature to appropriate funds to pay for the extra students. CEA was able to include greater accountability and transparency rules for charter schools.