One day after announcing he wouldn’t seek a second term, State Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor defended his record, acknowledging there have been necessary revisions and much anxiety about his sweeping education changes.
Pryor told educators at the annual back-to-school meeting, “Let’s not settle for good enough when true excellence is needed. You are on the right track….you are getting the job done.”
Pryor pointed to student progress on NAEP, saying it can be characterized as a “thunderous clap of achievement.”
Regarding the overhaul of teacher evaluation, Pryor said, while the process has had its ups and downs and teachers felt it was a “gotcha game,” the revisions “have been very well justified,” adding that professional dialogue has been elevated with local ideas in local school districts.
Responding to concerns about the overreliance on testing, the department released information about a new program that will provide support to all districts for decreasing time used for assessment. In partnership with Achieve, the state piloted the program in eight districts last year to help them judge the alignment of assessment tools and practices, and decrease the number and reduce the reliance on assessments.
Pryor said, “ Together, we believe we can expand instructional time…do more instruction and less testing.” Click here for more information.
Alan Taylor, chairman of the State Board of Education, said the state is providing more training and assistance to teachers than ever before. But he has heard from superintendents, including those in high- performing districts, about why they have to implement the Common Core.
Apparently adding some dry humor, he said the state doesn’t send out “inspectors” to see who is teaching what. But he said if students are high-performing, then their school districts are probably teaching to the Common Core State Standards.
Pryor also used the event to announce a new State Department of Education grant aimed at enhancing arts education in district curriculum, offering a well-rounded education.
Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman told educators this is an important grant because it will “help focus on the total child.”
“Whatever we can do to make education number one in the state—that’s what we should be doing,” said Wyman.