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Nicki Perkins

Nicki Perkins is the Director of Communications and Development for the Connecticut Council for Education Reform. She began working at CCER as a Graduate Fellow while earning her JD from the University of Connecticut School of Law. During that time, she helped CCER to establish priorities and associated briefs for the 2012 legislative session, and she also conducted research on Connecticut’s then-existing statutory provisions as compared to corresponding statutes from other states. Currently, Nicki manages CCER’s efforts to raise public awareness and garner support for the organization. She also continues to support CCER’s research and policy work.

EducationBridgeport: My, That’s a Very Convincing Straw Man – or Why Superintendent Scarice’s Commentary on Testing is Bogus

Here’s a challenge for Madison Superintendent Thomas Scarice: Find me the activist or politician who thinks a student’s ability to answer academic questions correctly on a test can accurately describe the entire meaning and value of that student’s life?

That’s essentially what Scarice is accusing the “educational community” of doing in his recent Op-Ed for the Connecticut Mirror.

Scarice would be hard-pressed to find an education reform advocate who’d argue against the importance of context.

While on a WNPR panel back in March discussing the new Common Core aligned Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) test, Executive Director of the Connecticut Council for Education Reform Jeffrey Villar told reporter John Dankosky, “I agree, numbers do not tell the whole story. Numbers are actually the beginning of the conversation.”

Is your mind blown yet?

Read the full story here.

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Changes in Teacher Preparation and Licensure Bills Represent Excellent Progress

Bill-Signing
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
CONTACT: Nicki Perkins
EMAIL: Nicki.Perkins@ctedreform.org
PHONE: 203-506-5799

Changes in Teacher Preparation and Licensure Bills Represent Excellent Progress

Hartford, Connecticut – Today, August 5th, Governor Malloy signed into law Public Act No. 15-108 and Public Act No. 15-243. Jeffrey Villar, Executive Director of the Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER), made the following statement after attending the bill signing ceremony:

“CCER applauds the Connecticut legislature and Governor Malloy for passing both of these bills into law. They truly have tremendous potential to expand the pool of highly qualified candidates for teaching and leadership positions in Connecticut’s public education system.

“P.A. 15-243 requires the State Department of Education to submit an annual report on the quality of teacher preparation programs, which will introduce a heightened level of accountability into the work of preparing future teachers in our state. The bill also mandates that a portion of the field experiences in teacher preparation programs will take place in some of our neediest districts. This is another important measure that appropriately acknowledges Connecticut’s increasing need for teachers who are specifically trained to support the students within these districts.

“While P.A. 15-243 does a lot to improve the way in which Connecticut prepares future teachers, P.A. 15-108 increases the means by which Connecticut can recruit highly qualified teachers who come from out-of-state. For example, this bill requires the Commissioner of Education to enter into agreements with neighboring states about what sort of certification credentials will be accepted here.

“The passage of both bills has the potential to increase the number of excellent teachers in Connecticut, and our students deserve nothing less.”

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CT Mirror Op Ed: Gov. Malloy’s wise veto of the education commissioner bill

By Ramani Ayer

If you aim to limit the amount of innovation that can happen in the public education arena, one surefire method would be to keep it an insider’s game…

It would be inappropriate to make the qualifications for the role of commissioner too narrow because they necessarily shift, depending on the shifting needs of our state. True, we ideally want a candidate who understands teaching and the administration of public education.

But we also want a candidate who has legal and political expertise. Do we therefore add a legislative requirement that the commissioner have a J.D.? At times, it will be very important for the commissioner to have experience with public communications. Do we then add a requirement of a communications degree? Commissioners will sometimes need to address school funding issues. Should we require that Commissioners have an MBA? Of course not.

Read the full opinion here.

 

 

CT Mirror–Bloomfield schools stage a comeback

By Robert A. Frahm

Bloomfield – In a high school that only a few years ago posted some of the worst math scores in the state, a cluster of bright teenagers one recent morning tackled a series of challenging calculus problems…

‘It’s a success story,’ said Marian Hourigan, an official with the Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER), a statewide, business-sponsored non-profit group that issued a report in March describing the district’s aggressive reforms as a blueprint to narrow the achievement gap.

One of 30 low-performing school systems designated by the state three years ago as Alliance Districts targeted for extra funding, Bloomfield was singled out by CCER because it is one of the only districts that has made steady progress in all of its schools, said Jeffrey Villar, the group’s executive director.

‘Quite honestly, in education, there’s a narrative out there that says minority and poor children can’t learn at the same levels as majority Caucasian kids. That’s a difficult thing to fight,’ he said. The Bloomfield story ‘counters the narrative…that poverty and race are somehow destiny.’

Read the full story here.

 

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE–CCER: State Report Underscores Power of Data

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
CONTACT: Nicki Perkins
EMAIL: Nicki.Perkins@ctedreform.org
PHONE: 203-506-5799

 

CCER: State Report Underscores Power of Data

New Haven, Connecticut – Today, the State Department of Education released a study of Choice programs in Connecticut. The analysis is based upon the academic growth and performance outcomes on the Connecticut Mastery Test in four of Connecticut’s largest cities over the two-year period of 2010 to 2012. In response to the study’s release, Jeffrey Villar, Executive Director of CCER, made the following statement:

“First and foremost, I want to congratulate the State Department of Education for its effort to produce a meaningful and scholarly report that can help to inform state policy on public education. This is exactly the type of attention to data that will drive high-quality decision-making in our state.

“Although only an ex post facto study, this analysis does suggest that public school charters, interdistrict magnets, and the Open Choice program may have meaningful impacts on the educational outcomes for groups of students who typically do not perform as well academically. The data from 2010-2012 show statistically meaningful improvement.

“Despite these improvements, however, there is clearly still much more work to be done before every Connecticut student receives the education he or she deserves.

“It’s also important to note that this study only looked at data through 2012. We hope that the collection of data this year and in future years will help the State Department of Education to continue conducting these types of analyses, so that we are able to determine which programs meet the needs of our students.”

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE–CCER: State Report Underscores Power of Data

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
CONTACT: Nicki Perkins
EMAIL: Nicki.Perkins@ctedreform.org
PHONE: 203-506-5799

 

CCER: State Report Underscores Power of Data

New Haven, Connecticut – Today, the State Department of Education released a study of Choice programs in Connecticut. The analysis is based upon the academic growth and performance outcomes on the Connecticut Mastery Test in four of Connecticut’s largest cities over the two-year period of 2010 to 2012. In response to the study’s release, Jeffrey Villar, Executive Director of CCER, made the following statement:

“First and foremost, I want to congratulate the State Department of Education for its effort to produce a meaningful and scholarly report that can help to inform state policy on public education. This is exactly the type of attention to data that will drive high-quality decision-making in our state.

“Although only an ex post facto study, this analysis does suggest that public school charters, interdistrict magnets, and the Open Choice program may have meaningful impacts on the educational outcomes for groups of students who typically do not perform as well academically. The data from 2010-2012 show statistically meaningful improvement.

“Despite these improvements, however, there is clearly still much more work to be done before every Connecticut student receives the education he or she deserves.

“It’s also important to note that this study only looked at data through 2012. We hope that the collection of data this year and in future years will help the State Department of Education to continue conducting these types of analyses, so that we are able to determine which programs meet the needs of our students.”

Read More »

Education Bridgeport–Teachers Union Doubles Down on Inflammatory Allegations

It appears one inflammatory allegation wasn’t enough for the Connecticut Education Association (CEA) which, on Friday, doubled-down on claims against the non-profit education advocacy group Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER)…

This supposed release of ‘personally identifiable’ data was simply a desperate effort to convince the legislature to pass HB 7017, a bill that would restrict how contractors use and obtains student data. Taking pot shots at CCER was just icing on the cake.

If that wasn’t enough, on Friday CEA Executive Director Mark Waxenberg told NBC Connecticut that CCER was ‘capable’ of selling student data – an interesting allegation considering that the CEA linked to the Memorandum of Understanding between Hamden Public Schools and CCER in both their press releases on this matter.

Read the full story here.

WNPR–Connecticut Teachers Union Spars With Reform Group Over Student Data Access

By David Desroches

A controversy has erupted between the state’s largest teachers union and an education reform group over student privacy.

The Connecticut Education Association claims that Hamden Public Schools gave an education reform group school data that risks exposing personal information about students…

This comes as CEA is advocating for legislative action on a bill concerning student data privacy. The CEA is also trying to limit the sharing of information on teachers.

Jeffrey Villar, executive director of the non-profit, said the accusations by the teachers’ union are ‘irresponsible’ and ‘inflammatory.’

‘The work that we’re doing with Hamden is a partnership, we’ve actually completed it weeks ago, so the timing of all this is questionable as well,’ Villar said.

With the legislative session wrapping up, the union leader said he wants the information out to help lawmakers act on a pending privacy bill.

Read the full story here.

West Hartford News: Teachers’ union pans state’s new tests

By Christine Stuart

HARTFORD >> The first year of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium testing isn’t completed, but the state’s largest teachers union is asking state lawmakers to study its continued use as a statewide assessment…

Jeffrey Villar, executive director of the Connecticut Council for Education Reform, said that he can’t understand the concerns being leveled against the SBAC test.

‘The SBAC takes students the same amount of time to complete as the CMT (Connecticut Mastery Test), but provides higher-quality data that is comparable across states,’ Villar said.

He added: ‘The fight against SBAC is nothing more than a backlash against accountability. It’s a movement that seeks to maintain the status quo, rather than making informed decisions about what students actually need from their schools.’

Read the full story here.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE–CEA Allegations Completely False

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
CONTACT: Nicki Perkins
EMAIL: Nicki.Perkins@ctedreform.org
PHONE: 203-506-5799

CEA Allegations Completely False

New Haven, Connecticut – Today, the Connecticut Education Association (CEA) released a press statement containing false allegations about the Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER). In response, Jeffrey Villar, Executive Director of CCER, made the following statement:

“It is a shame that the CEA is so determined to protect adults and the status quo that it would work against our efforts to make schools better for kids. Worse, the statements released by the CEA are factually incorrect, and they know it. It is completely irresponsible for them to make these false and inflammatory statements. Although this is going to sound harsh, they ought to be ashamed of themselves.

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