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Hartford Courant: Bloomfield’s James Thompson Named Superintendent of the Year

By Steven Goode

During his tenure, the high school graduation rate has increased by 17 percentage points and Bloomfield students have outgained state averages on standardized test scores.

Jeffrey Villar, executive director of the Connecticut Council for Education Reform, which has worked with Bloomfield schools, said Thompson is a “perfect choice” for the award.

“His 40 years of experience is really paying off for Bloomfield,” Villar said.

Read the full piece here.

Harvard Political Review–All or Nothing: Understanding Connecticut’s Stark Political Polarization

By Lauren Fadiman

Connecticut’s wealth disparity also manifests itself in educational imbalances. According to the Connecticut Council for Education Reform, Connecticut is home to the largest educational achievement gap in the United States. In Fairfield County, New Canaan, a top-performing, wealthy, almost entirely white district borders Bridgeport, a low-performing, impoverished district. In the former, students perform about three grade levels above the national average; in the latter, students perform about two grade levels behind the national average. This problem has existed for years, predominantly impacting communities of color that, due to the segregative housing policies of Connecticut’s past, live in economically disadvantaged areas.

Read the full piece here.

The Literacy Leadership Institute

Dear School Leader, 

The education landscape is riddled with abandoned initiatives that have failed to deliver on their hefty promises. What goes wrong? Was the initial research that compelled us to embrace the approach flawed?  Did we err in our selection of the strategy?  Or did we simply fail to effectively implement the initiative with fidelity?  We can fall victim to the latter when we measure outcomes without also measuring outputs. “Outcomes” tell us about the long-term impact of our efforts, while “outputs” help us to identify whether an intervention was delivered in the first place.

To draw reasonable conclusions about whether an initiative in our school is working for our students, we need to see the relationships between outcomes and outputs. In other words, we need to monitor implementation

That’s the context for our upcoming leadership series, The Literacy Leadership Institute. This is an opportunity for select leaders—current and aspiring—to work with international and local experts on effectively implementing and monitoring literacy programs. This year-long series will help you think about what’s working in literacy, explore useful resources, and ramp up your literacy efforts. It will also impart broad leadership skills that will help you to monitor the implementation of other initiatives. (Click here to learn more!)

Applications are due December 1st, and we look forward to hearing from you. 

Sincerely,

Karissa Niehoff | Executive Director, Connecticut Association of Schools

Jeffrey Villar | Executive Director, Connecticut Council for Education Reform 

Resources from the Leading for Literacy Event

We hope you enjoyed our event, Leading for Literacy. Below please find presentations and resources related to the event. 

Connecticut Health Investigative Team: Low Graduation Rates Tied To Absenteeism, Poverty In Urban Schools

By Molli DeRosa

According to the Connecticut Council for Education Reform, Connecticut has the largest education achievement gap in the United States, meaning wealthier students are assumed to be doing well in school, but lower-income students are assumed to be doing poorly. The council also states on its website that one factor contributing to the achievement gap in schools is the “need for more effective teachers and school leaders.”

Read the full piece here.

Hartfordbusiness.com: Businesses seek bigger say in education reform

The Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER) and the Connecticut Business and Industry Association (CBIA) affiliated in mid-May, hoping to align their areas of expertise so that businesses can assist educators in improving literacy, fostering professional development and establishing other policies that help strengthen the state’s workforce and close the so-called “achievement gap,” which is the difference in educational performance between Connecticut’s low-income and non-low-income students.

Read the full piece here.

Center for Data Innovation-Dear Parents: Your Concerns About Student Privacy Are Being Exploited

Parents understandably value the privacy of their children and thus are sensitive to programs that collect and analyze student data. On the other hand, nonprofits, education researchers, and education technology firms rely on data collected inside and outside the classroom to develop and improve educational products and services, enable teachers to personalize lessons, help school administrators make more informed decisions, and increase student achievement. All too often, many education stakeholders falsely portray these two objectives as mutually exclusive and insinuate that if the education system is going to explore data-driven innovation, it will sacrifice student privacy.

In 2015, the Connecticut Education Association (CEA)—the state’s largest teachers’ union— accused the Hamden school district of irresponsibly sharing student data with the Connected Council for Education Reform (CCER), a nonprofit working to reduce achievement gaps between schools in wealthy and poor districts. CCER’s work, which it offered to the school district at no cost despite being valued at $100,000, focused on analyzing budgeting data to identify inefficient administrative practices so the school district could devote a greater share of its resources to educating its students. The data CCER was legally provided with by the school district was both anonymous and subject to a confidentiality agreement, preventing CCER from sharing this information. Despite this, CEA falsely insisted that CCER was covertly accessing personally identifiable data without parental consent and insinuated that CCER would sell this data. While student privacy was never in jeopardy here, CEA levied these accusations to garner support for state legislation that would greatly restrict the ability of well-meaning groups like CCER to access and analyze education data and in theory, prevent third parties from uncovering inefficient allocation of resources that benefited CEA members.

Read the full story here.

WSHU: Will More Minority Teachers Close Connecticut’s Achievement Gap?

Jeffrey Villar, executive director of the non-profit Connecticut Council for Education Reform, thinks that even if 1,000 teachers of color are recruited in the state, it may be a while until that translates into better results for minority students.

Read the full story here.

CT Mirror: Comey fired, making CT politics seem normal by comparison

By Paul Stern

Also this week, the Connecticut Council for Education Reform – often a voice opposing the state’s teachers’ unions – was folded into the state’s chief business organization, the Connecticut Business and Industry Association.

Read the full story here.

Westfaironline – CBIA, Connecticut Council for Education Reform form partnership

By Kevin Zimmerman

The Connecticut Business & Industry Association and the Connecticut Council for Education Reform have formed a strategic affiliation designed to enhance the existing education and workforce initiatives of both organizations. The combined organization will operate as CBIA’s Education & Workforce Partnership.

Read the full story here.

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