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Shannon Marimon

So Just What Are the Common Core Standards?

Did you know that when a student is “proficient” in math or reading in State A, that student is not necessarily also “proficient” in the same subject in State B? Lack of consistency in expectations is a serious problem we face as a nation, and it is one of the many challenges that the Common Core College and Career Readiness Standards are designed to solve.

The Problem, Exemplified

Just take a look at the Nation’s Report Card (NAEP). This is the only assessment of academic subjects that is administered across the
 nation on an ongoing basis in every state. Look at last year, for example, in which a number of states showed lower percentages of proficiency on the national test than they did on their own state tests. For instance, Connecticut students taking Math on the Connecticut Mastery Test (CMT) showed 86% proficiency, far higher than New Hampshire students taking the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP), which found 66% of students taking the test to be proficient. However, when you gave Connecticut and New Hampshire students the same test (NAEP), the results showed that New Hampshire students had higher rates of proficiency than Connecticut students. Makes no sense right? It’s because we have different standards and expectations between states.Read More »

Connecticut Leading the Way in Expanded Learning Time

After an impressive year in education reform, we’re continuing to set national trends in Connecticut! Today, the National Center on Time & Learning (NCTL), the Ford Foundation, and Connecticut leaders announced that we will be one of 5 states (along with Colorado, Massachusetts, New York, and Tennessee), to collaborate in a new program to develop expanded-time models for schools. We all realize that it’s time to revamp the antiquated model of learning time in schools; and this is our chance in Connecticut to re-imagine that variable as an important facet of reforming public education! This effort, called the Time for Innovation Matters in Education (TIME) Collaborative, is funded by Ford and supported by NCTL.

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Region 10 Superintendent Spearheads an Innovative Shift to Full-Day K

This week, the Regional School District #10 has officially embarked upon its full-day kindergarten program, after a long campaign. Regional School District 10 with ten board members, and two towns between which funds are allocated proportionally.  While the district already had a half-day kindergarten program, full-day kindergarten was a novel idea that did not get immediate support from the parents in the two counties or the local board of education.  We touched base with Region 10’s dedicated Superintendent, Alan Beitman, to find out a bit about how this impressive program came together and how the district overcame challenges along the way.  

Q: When a district is getting ready to embark upon a program like full-day kindergarten, we know that funding can always be an issue.  Did you need more funding to create this program, or did you find a creative solution?

A:  When you’re trying to introduce an innovative idea, asking for additional funding just provides a platform to those who are opposed, so we knew we had to find an alternative solution.  In Region 10, we came up with an idea that I don’t think all districts have thought of yet: we decided to shift the funding from our half-day kindergarten busing program to cover the bulk of the costs of full-day kindergarten.   We realized that it was going to cost us an additional $100,000 to pay for teachers’ salaries if we moved from a half-day to a full-day schedule, which is roughly what we were already paying to send kindergarteners home half-way through the school day. Once we stopped having to bus kindergarteners home in the middle of the day (and instead sent them home at the end of the full school day), we could use the money that we would have spent on transportation to fund full-day kindergarten.Read More »

Connecticut Approaches Halfway Mark for Bellwether Barometer on Teacher Effectiveness

Last month, Bellwether Education Partners released a new report on recent action that states have taken with respect to teacher effectiveness. The report analyzes the 21 states that have addressed teacher effectiveness since 2010 through new statutes and regulations. The study scored states based upon thirteen criteria, some of which include:

  • Are all teachers evaluated annually?
  • Are principals, as well as teachers, evaluated?
  • Is evidence of student learning a factor in educator evaluations?
  • Do evaluations differentiate between multiple levels of educator effectiveness?
  • Are educator preparation programs accountable for graduates’ effectiveness?
  • Is tenure linked to effectiveness?
  • Does state law or policy provide clear authority to dismiss ineffective teachers and a reasonable process for doing so?
  • Do principals have the authority to decide who teaches in their schools?
  • Are effective teachers rewarded with increased compensation?

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Common Themes of the Commissioner’s Network Schools’ Turnaround Plans

On August 9th, the State Board of Education approved and adopted the four turnaround plans for James J. Curiale School of Bridgeport, Thirman L. Milner School of Hartford, High School in the Community of New Haven, and of the John B. Stanton School of Norwich. These four schools are the first participants in the Commissioner’s Network of Schools and will begin implementing their new turnaround plans in the coming year. According to Commissioner Pryor, each of these four schools is in the bottom ten percent of schools in the state, at least 75% of each school’s student populations qualify for free and reduced lunch, and each school has been In Need of Improvement for four or more years.Read More »

How Summer Learning Programs Can Help Close Connecticut’s Achievement Gap

By: Rae Ann Knopf and Nicki Perkins

As Connecticut continues its work on closing the achievement gap during these summer months, it’s important to know that some disparities in academic performance between students of different socio-economic statuses can be traced to unequal learning opportunities over the summer vacation.  Nationally, students of all backgrounds tend to lose about one month of their math and reading gains from the prior academic year each summer. We call this “summer learning loss.” According to last year’s study by the RAND Corporation, low-income students are disproportionately affected by summer learning loss. On average, low-income students lose two months of reading skills, with losses accumulating over multiple summers.

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Fostering Great Teachers and Leaders: State Board Approves Teacher and Administrator Evaluation Guidelines

Yesterday, Connecticut’s State Board of Education unanimously approved the adoption of teacher and administrator evaluation guidelines, now known as “Core Requirements”. The Core Requirements, which were developed by the Performance Evaluation Advisory Council (PEAC) after almost two years of work, call for an unprecedented amount of feedback and support to be provided to teachers and school administrators and factor student performance into evaluations. Read More »

The Commissioner’s Network: A Key Strategy for Turning around CT’s Lowest-Performing Schools

With 135 schools that have been designated as “In Need of Improvement” for five or more years, the Commissioner’s Network of schools is an innovative and strategic approach to turning around Connecticut’s lowest-performing schools. Established in Senate Bill 458, the Commissioner’s Network provides the State Department of Education with the flexibility and resources to intervene in and support the turnaround of twenty-five of Connecticut’s lowest-performing schools within the next three years. Read More »

Performance Evaluation Advisory Council Reaches Consensus on Student Performance Measures in Teacher Evaluations

In an effort to clear up a misunderstanding and potential obstacle to implementation concerning how students’ test results will count toward a teacher’s evaluation, the Performance Evaluation Advisory Council (PEAC) met on Thursday, May 31, 2012. Convening at the State Office Building, members discussed required parameters including how much weight student testing will carry in the outcome of the evaluation.

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US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan Announces the Approval of CT’s NCLB Waiver Application

In another landmark moment for education reform in Connecticut, US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Governor Malloy announced that CT’s application for a waiver from requirements of the 2001 No Child Left Behind Legislation (NCLB) was approved. Under NCLB, progress was measured against the goal of having 100% of students in high poverty schools achieve proficiency by 2014, with corrective actions and the restricted use of federal funds for schools and districts that fell short.  The NCLB waiver will replace the state’s old system with one that allows the State Department of Education (SDE) to direct resources, interventions and supports to meet the specific needs of low-achieving groups of students in every school and district across the state.  The waiver also requires the SDE to focus on supporting effective instruction and leadership, as well as establishing and supporting college- and career-readiness expectations.

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