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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.

Expanding Learning Time for Student Success through the TIME Collaborative

Last year, Connecticut’s State Department of Education (SDE) collaborated with the National Center on Time & Learning (NCTL) to bring the TIME Collaborative to a limited number of Alliance Districts. This year, as the first cohort is implementing expanded learning time, the SDE and NCTL are currently working with a second group of districts and schools in a planning process to expand learning time in the 2014-15 school year. Today, we’ve asked Rob Travaglini from the NCTL to tell us a little bit about expanded learning time and the TIME Collaborative.

In 2012, NCTL collaborated with the Connecticut State Department of Education and a strong steering committee to launch the TIME Collaborative in Connecticut. We did this because every child in Connecticut deserves an education that prepares her for success in college and career and sets her on a path to a rich, fulfilling life. Unfortunately, our antiquated school calendar is too limiting to provide children from low-income communities with the breadth and depth of educational experiences they will need to thrive.Read More »

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: CCER Pleased with Outcome of 2014 Session

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

CCER Pleased with Outcome of 2014 Session

New Haven, Connecticut –Jeffrey Villar, executive director of the Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER), today released the following statement about the conclusion of the 2014 legislative session:

“CCER came into the legislative session with two primary objectives: to make sure the reforms that were been passed over the last two years stayed in place, and to expand preschool opportunities for children from low-income families. Now that the session has come to a close, it’s clear both of those things happened, so we’re very pleased.

“This session, both the Common Core State Standards and the teacher evaluation and support system came under intense scrutiny. These reform efforts are designed to raise academic standards; provide teachers with more professional development and opportunities to delve deeply into content with their students; and increase accountability for learning. Despite substantial efforts to delay or block the implementation of these improvements to public education, both reform efforts remain in place.

“In addition, new legislative actions were taken to expand preschool opportunities. We’ve codified the Office of Early Childhood into law, increased the number of School Readiness slots, and established a grant program to fund the expansion of district preschool services. Each of these steps is intended to increase preschool opportunities in Connecticut.

“None of this would’ve been possible without a strong spirit of collaboration amongst all stakeholders in education reform.  We are grateful to our colleagues in the Big Six, to Connecticut’s legislators, and to the administrations of Governor Malloy and Commissioner Pryor. All of them continue to make improving public education a priority in our state.”

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About the Connecticut Council for Education Reform

The Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER)–a statewide, non-partisan, 501(c)(3) not- for-profit organization–works to close the achievement gap and raise academic outcomes for all students in Connecticut. The achievement gap is the disparity in academic achievement between children from low-income families and children of color, and their peers. We advocate for state policies and local practices that research shows have the best chance of raising achievement for high-need student populations.

For more information on CCER, go to www.ctedreform.org

2014 Legislative Session Outcomes

Connecticut’s 2014 legislative session was lively, with both defensive and offensive victories for those advocating to ensure that all kids in Connecticut receive a great education, regardless of their race or family’s income. When the legislative session began in January, CCER’s top two priorities were (1) to defend the education reforms that had been passed in previous years, and (2) to provide more children from low-income families with preschool opportunities.

As it turns out, these two issues dominated most of session. Both Common Core and the teacher evaluation and support system came under attack at the start of session, and Governor Malloy endorsed early childhood education as a top priority for the legislature in his State of the State addressRead More »

Hartford Courant: State Students Excel on ‘Nation’s Report Card’

By Kathy Megan

HARTFORD — Connecticut’s high school seniors scored the highest in reading among 13 states and also narrowed the state’s achievement gap between black and white students, according to a test known as “the nation’s report card.”

“It’s the first time in recent history … that we’ve seen a statistically significant gap closure” between black and white students, said state Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor. “We are enormously proud of that accomplishment.”

Pryor said that it was also the first time on a National Assessment of Educational Progress test, or NAEP, that Connecticut has ranked “No. 1 free and clear” in a subject area: On reading it outperformed the other 12 states, including Massachusetts, New Hampshire and New Jersey.

“Connecticut has not previously stood at the top as a solo number in its own category,” Pryor said, adding that the state’s 12th-graders’ reading score was, statistically speaking, significantly higher than those of all the other states.Read More »

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: National Test Results Show Reforms Are Working in CT

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

National Test Results Show Reforms Are Working in CT

New Haven, Connecticut – On May 7th, 2014, Connecticut received promising news about its results on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). NAEP, sometimes known as “the Nation’s Report Card,” allows states to compare results, while also reporting on states’ progress in narrowing gaps.

In response to the results released today, Jeffrey Villar, executive director of the Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER) made this statement:

“We saw particularly promising progress in 12th Grade Math and Reading. Overall, our twelfth graders topped the nation in both of these subjects, coming in first place for Reading and performing impressively in Math.Read More »

Hartford Courant: State Board Endorses Flexibility In Teacher Evaluations

By Kathy Megan

HARTFORD — The state Board of Education unanimously endorsed a recommended change in the teacher evaluation system that ensures that a teacher’s review does not hinge on a single state standardized test score, but not without reluctance from one board member.

“I have to tell you, I’m very conflicted,” board member Joseph Vrabely said before Wednesday’s vote, voicing concerns that the change might be a step back on education reform. “We still have student performance that is below standard.”

When the new evaluation system was approved two years ago, one of its key elements was linking teachers’ performance to their students’ scores on the state’s standardized test. The average of the scores of a teacher’s students was to account for 22.5 percent of the teacher’s evaluation, in grades where the test is given.

Now, on the recommendation of the panel that created the new evaluation system, the board has modified the evaluation system so that at least one other test will be factored into that 22.5 percent. The panel emphasized that more tests should be included so that students’ academic growth over time is considered.Read More »

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: CCER Applauds Malloy and Legislature for Codifying Office of Early Childhood

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

CCER Applauds Malloy and Legislature for Codifying Office of Early Childhood

New Haven, Connecticut – On May 5, 2014, Governor Malloy praised the General Assembly for passing legislation to establish the Office of Early Childhood (OEC). The OEC’s establishment follows an unusual turn of events a year ago, when the General Assembly failed to pass a bill creating the OEC, while the state budget still allocated funding to its creation. As a result, Malloy had created the OEC by executive order. The legislature’s action this session ensures the office’s continuity by placing it into statute. 

In response today, Jeffrey Villar, executive director of the Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER) made this statement:Read More »

New Haven Register: Connecticut education reform groups playing pivitol role shaping public education

By Rachel Chinapen

Education reform groups across the state hope to play a pivotal role in shaping the future of public education, a landscape that has been changing since the first cohort of public charters was approved nearly two decades ago.

Groups such as New Haven-based ConnCan and Connecticut Council for Education Reform, and StudentsFirst are widely recognized for their lobbying efforts to expand public charters, increase teacher and school accountability and increase funding for school choice programs. Other groups such as Educators4Excellence,Teach for America and Achievement First have more distinct niches including operating public charters and training educators to advocate for change at the state level.Read More »

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Do Not Cut Education Funding. It is Critical to the Health of the State’s Economy.

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

CCER: Do Not Cut Education Funding. It is Critical to the Health of the State’s Economy. 

New Haven, Connecticut – On Friday, April 25th, the Office of Fiscal Analysis reported that tax revenues have been lower than expected for this fiscal year, which means the State will need to reduce expenditures. In the face of potential budget cuts, Jeffrey Villar, executive director of the Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER), released the following statement:

“We are pleased that the Malloy administration still plans to fund its top priorities: investing in education and economic development. These two priorities are critically linked. Any cuts to education or the education reform budget would be both shortsighted and irresponsible.

“In Connecticut, each high school dropout costs Connecticut more than $500,000 over the course of his or her lifetime. This is because students who don’t have a high school diploma both earn less and require more social services than their peers who graduate. ForRead More »

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: CCER Says Modifications to Evaluation System Should Not Diminish Teacher Accountability

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

CCER: Modifications to Evaluation System Should Not Diminish Teacher Accountability

New Haven, Connecticut – On Thursday, April 24th, the Performance Evaluation Advisory Council (PEAC) proposed changes to Connecticut’s teacher evaluation and support system. These modifications have yet to be reviewed by the State Board of Education.

Today, Jeffrey Villar, executive director of the Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER) made this statement:

“I was the superintendent of a district that piloted the new teacher evaluation and support system last year, and I believe it to be a strong and important step towards establishing teacher accountability across the state. By directly tying teachers’ effectiveness to their students’ growth in learning, we are reshaping the way we think about a teacher’s responsibilities. The model works well for evaluating teachers who teach subjects with available standardized assessments.

“CCER opposes efforts to relax accountability or to provide loopholes that will eliminate the requirement of standardized indicators as a component of evaluations.Read More »

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