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Intervene When Chronically Low-Performing Schools and Districts Still Do Not Improve

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Principle Recommendation

The State Board of Education and the Commissioner of Education should use the full extent of their legal authority to intervene in chronically low-performing schools and districts that are not making progress under the Alliance District and Commissioner’s Network programs.

Current Connecticut Statute

The Commissioner of Education has the ability to refuse to approve Alliance District plans and/or pull back money from districts that don’t spend it as promised, but he has not used this power.[i] Additionally, the Commissioner of Education can also refuse to accept the plan proposed by a Commissioner’s Network School Turnaround Committee and himself implement a more robust plan.[ii] The Commissioner should more rigorously review Alliance District plans and ensure that they have robust proposals for improving talent, professional development, and other turnaround measures.

Finally, the State Board of Education has the authority to directly intervene in the governance of chronically low-performing districts, although this power has been rarely used.[iii]

Supporting Research

In November 2011, the Lawrence Public Schools was placed into state receivership by the Massachusetts Board of Elementary & Secondary Education. The Commissioner appointed a receiver, vested with the powers of the school district superintendent and the local school committee. In addition to consolidating governing authority, the receiver also has the power to amend or suspend aspects of collective bargaining agreements in the district. No end date has been specified for the receivership, though the Commissioner has stated that he expects the turn around will take at least five years.

Currently, the Lawrence Public Schools is in the midst of a comprehensive district turnaround under state receivership. The goal of the turnaround is to create high-performing schools by ensuring that all schools have great leaders and teachers, increasing school autonomy, harnessing the talents of proven partner organizations, and creating a leaner central office to provide flexible supports for schools.[iv]

Lawrence, MA has seen meaningful growth in student achievement.[v]

Sources

[i] Section 10-262u of the Connecticut General Statutes allows the Commissioner of Education to withhold Alliance District funding if the district does not comply; it also requires annual expenditure reports of Alliance District funding.  If the Alliance District funding was not spent according to statute, the Commissioner could require a refund of that funding or could reduce the following year’s funding.
[ii] C.G.S. 10-262u.
[iii] C.G.S. 10-223e
[iv] Lawrence Public Schools Website. Retrieved from here.
[v]  NOLA Media Group (2015). Recovery School District’s New Orleans schools are top gainers in test results. Retrieved from here.