- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 12, 2014

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Despite complaints from teachers across Connecticut about the rollout of new education standards and guidelines, a parade of education officials on Wednesday urged state lawmakers to oppose efforts to delay its implementation.

State Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor said he understands there is “justified anxiety” among teachers, administrators and teachers about the change, but told members of the General Assembly’s Education Committee that delaying the reform efforts for a year until they can be studied would harm students by “requiring them to remain in a bygone era.”

As Pryor spoke, a group of onlookers sat behind him wearing red shirts that read “Stop Common Core in CT,” referring to a set of college and career-ready standards for students in grades K-12 that focus on English language arts/literacy and math. Connecticut first adopted the initiative in 2010, during former Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s administration.

“Districts are engaged in curriculum development and professional development right now,” Pryor told The Associated Press following his appearance before the committee. “They need the continued support of the state. To interrupt that would be disruptive to our schools.”

To address concerns that the rollout was happening too quickly, state officials in January agreed to delay some parts, creating a transition period. For example, for the 2014-15 school year, standardized test scores based on a student’s knowledge of the new Common Core education standards will not count toward a portion of a teacher’s evaluation. There are also plans to de-link the testing from the teacher evaluations for the 2015-16 school year. Both moves require federal approval.

Additionally, Pryor said districts can choose whether to test students’ knowledge of those new Common Core standards this spring or use older tests. He said most districts plan to use the new tests this spring.

Members of the House Republican caucus petitioned to get the Democratic-controlled Education Committee to hold a public hearing on bills requiring a one-year moratorium on implementation of the Common Core standards and another bill that formalizes the recent delays in the rollout.

Rep. Terrie Wood, R-Darien, said she has heard from numerous constituents, including teachers, who oppose the implementation of Common Core standards without proper due diligence.

“They’re all for standards, trust me, and they’re all for assessments,” she said. “But they just want to see more of a process followed with this and more input from them.”

Pryor said Wednesday’s hearing showed that more needs to be done to improve communication about the new standards and guidelines. He said his department has already compiled a group of 1,500 teachers from 163 districts to train as coaches so they can help train their colleagues. Other training sessions are planned for the spring and summer. Additionally, the department has launched the website www.CTCoreStandards.org , which includes sample unit and lesson plans for teachers as well as information for parents.

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