Text by Kathleen Megan, Hartford Courant; video by Crystal Hall, FOX CT
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signed an executive order Tuesday creating a 25-member task force of educators to deliver recommendations on how to improve the roll-out of the new academic goals called the Common Core State Standards.
“Connecticut teachers and education professionals have raised legitimate concerns that preparations for the implementation of Common Core State Standards and the incorporation of Common Core State Standards into the teaching curriculum have been uneven across the state,” Malloy said in a statement.
“Teachers, students, public officials, and everyone involved in the education system will benefit by having this review, identifying challenges, and highlighting best practices and lessons learned,” Malloy continued.
The new task force, which does not yet have a first meeting date, includes a dozen teachers or educational professionals, four superintendents or district curriculum leaders, two parents, two members of local boards of education, and the state Department of Education’s chief academic officer.
Malloy’s announcement comes on the eve of a legislative hearing on the new standards at noon Wednesday that is expected to include testimony from harsh critics as well as proponents of the new state standards. Already more than 120 people have filed testimony for the hearing.
The hearing was prompted by House Republicans, who have been concerned by reports from teachers and constituents about problems in the rollout of the new standards.
Late last month, House Republican Leader Larry Cafero of Norwalk said that establishing national standards in math and English for students in kindergarten through 12th grade is a “noble goal,” but “we have heard horror story after horror story about the inability [of] boards of education [and] teachers to prepare themselves for this whole changeover.”
Mark Waxenberg, executive director of the Connecticut Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union, also announced last month that the roll-out of the new standards has been “botched” and “needs to be repaired.”
The General Assembly’s education committee will hear testimony Wednesday on a bill that would delay implementation.
Supporters of the new standards, which have been adopted by 45 states, including Connecticut, say they are more rigorous and will lead to higher achieving students.
Ninety percent of the state’s school districts are set to give students a new standardized test — called the Smarter Balanced Consortium Assessment — based on the new academic standards this spring. A little more than a quarter of those districts will start the testing on March 18.
In Connecticut, the state Board of Education adopted the standards in 2010, but it is only this year as the roll-out of the new standards picked up speed that widespread criticism has erupted.
Malloy wants the new task force to identify challenges and gaps in the new standards and consider ways to advance them. Their recommendations are due no later than June 30, in time for the new school year.
Teachers on the task force include: Erin Wilson of Hartford, Juanita Harris of Danbury, Andrea Middlebrooks of Cromwell, Ken Daly,of Wallingford, Bruce Yarnell, of Stonington, William McKinney of New Haven, Patti Fusco of West Haven, Susan Schmidt of New Britain, and Diana Burns of Westbrook. Sue Loud, a department head at Eli Whitney Technical High School in Hamden and Barbara Johnson, a librarian in an elementary school in Colchester, are also on the panel. Malloy has one more teacher or education professional yet to be named.
Principals include Anne Jellison of Meriden, Anthony Ditrio of Norwalk, Vicki Reed of Wallingford, and Edith Johnson of New Haven.
Superintendents include Nate Quesnel of East Hartford and Paula Talty of Cromwell. Sean McKenna, an assistant superintendent from Groton and Ivelise Velazquez, director of reading and social sciences of Windham are also included.
Parents include Cindy Yeager of Stamford and one other parent yet to be named.
Local board of education members include Don Harris of Bloomfield and Liz Brown of Waterbury.
The task force also includes the State Department of Education’s chief academic officer, Dianna Roberge-Wentzell.