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Districts Making Smart, Data-Based Decisions

In December, we acknowledged the Meriden Public Schools for its innovative use of data to drive decision-making. When a district integrates regular data analysis into its teaching and leadership practices, the whole community can start to make informed decisions about what’s working for kids. And, when we conducted an analysis of Meriden’s data and IT systems in 2013, we learned that Meriden is really using some creative approaches to monitoring the well-being, academic outcomes, and progress of its teachers.

That’s why we collaborated with the district to produce a website that highlights some of Meriden’s achievements and also provides other district leaders with a starting point for self-reflection and improvement of their own data and IT systems. This Data Systems Guidebook contains a self-evaluation tool that we really hope will facilitate discussions among district-level school leaders about data and IT systems. (Don’t worry: the site does not save any of the data. We can’t see your responses when you fill out the evaluation. It’s for your internal use only!) The self-evaluations are broken out into three areas that are critical to ensuring sound data practices: district-wide practices, school-level practices, and technology infrastructure. Although the self-evaluations are the website’s focus, this tool is not meant to be used for strictly evaluative purposes. Ultimately, we hope districts will use this tool to develop priorities for improvement in the areas of data and IT.

As an example, let’s take a look at the first area, District Performance.

As you can see, this chapter is divided into several subsections—topics that districts will need to consider if they’re going to develop well-thought-out district-level data systems. The first sub-section is about strategic planning.Read More »

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE–All Must Sacrifice for Education

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

All Must Sacrifice for Education 

Hartford, Connecticut – Today, February 3, 2015, Governor Malloy gave his budget address for FY 2016-17. In response, Jeffrey Villar, Executive Director of the Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER), made the following statement:

“We are pleased that Governor Malloy continues to show support for education, even during a tight budget year. Since 2012, Governor Malloy has been an advocate for improving public education, and his proposal to protect the Education Cost Sharing grant during a time of great fiscal distress reflects a strong commitment to our schools and students.

“That said, the Governor’s budget also proposes reduced funding for Connecticut’s priority school districts. I have serious concerns about such a proposal because these cuts will specifically target Connecticut’s highest-need districts—precisely those who need funding the most.

“In addition, I worry about any cuts to the Connecticut State Department of Education, which is already struggling to establish the necessary capacity to monitor and assist public school districts. CCER fully recognizes that the state must make some tough choices this session. But much like a family that sacrifices to send a child to college, Connecticut needs to tighten its belt while investing in the education of its children.”

Read More »

CT Post: Malloy’s budget plan tightens belt on education

Now funded at $43.7 million for 15 communities statewide, the plan would cut Priority District spending back to $42.2 million.

“I have serious concerns about such a proposal, because these cuts (in the priority grant) will specifically target Connecticut’s highest-need districts — precisely those who need it the most,” Jeffrey Villar, executive director of the Connecticut Council for Education reform, said in a prepared statement.

Read the full story here.

NBC Connecticut: First Statewide Teacher Evaluation Documents Released

‘I think we need to take a look at it and make sure we have some changes and make sure we have results that are meaningful and if everyone is given an ‘A’ then that’s not really meaningful results,’ Villar said.

Watch the video here.

2016: Can We Keep the Focus on Kids?

For the past several years, CCER has released an annual report on the state’s progress in passing and implementing our long-term plan to raise academic outcomes for all students, regardless of their race or socio-economic status. Based upon the recommendations we initially put forth in 2011, we developed a rubric so that we can both qualitatively and quantitatively track this progress.

At the end of 2015, we moved to an online format, so that you can track Connecticut’s progress in real time. So far, the state has fully implemented over 37% of our recommendations. We’ve accomplished so much, but there’s still a lot left to do.

We know that a lot of the upcoming legislative session is going to be focused on the budget deficit. But we also know that investing in Connecticut’s students is the best way our state can improve its economic prospects.

Read on to check out what we’ve accomplished to date, and how our 2016 policy priorities will keep the focus on kids!Read More »

Hartford Courant: Teachers want evaluation system changed

Others call it too soon to scrap the system. Jeffrey Villar, a former Windsor school superintendent who now heads the Connecticut Council for Education Reform, said he knows first hand the challenges the new evaluation has presented but remains committed to the idea that teachers have a critical impact upon student learning and therefore there must be a connection between student learning and teacher evaluation.

“To call for a complete disconnect eliminates accountability,” Villar said. Rather than hold press conferences, Villar said CEA should be addressing their concerns to the statewide committee that developed the standards.

Read the full piece here.

Hartford Courant: Union Calls for Dropping State Test Scores from Teachers’ Eval

Earlier this month the CEA recommended eliminating the Smarter Balanced test and replacing it with another test or possibly doing away with a standardized test completely.

State officials and other advocates for education have supported the linkage between the state standardized test scores and teacher evaluations.

Jeff Villar, executive director of the Connecticut Council on Education Reform, said he favors retaining that linkage and added, “With the productive involvement of teachers, I believe we can improve the system and make the connection more meaningful.”

Read the full piece here.

Hartford Courant: Teachers’ Union Calls for Elimination of Smarter Balanced Test

Jeffrey Villar, executive director of the Connecticut Council for Education Reform, said Connecticut has already invested millions over the past five years in developing and piloting the new test, which was first administered to students in every district last spring. “And the CEA’s proposal would throw it all away,” he said. “That just doesn’t make sense.”

Read the full piece here.

Greenwich Time: Teachers want evaluation system changed

Others call it too soon to scrap the system. Jeffrey Villar, a former Windsor school superintendent who now heads the Connecticut Council for Education Reform, said he knows first hand the challenges the new evaluation has presented but remains committed to the idea that teachers have a critical impact upon student learning and therefore there must be a connection between student learning and teacher evaluation.

“To call for a complete disconnect eliminates accountability,” Villar said. Rather than hold press conferences, Villar said CEA should be addressing their concerns to the statewide committee that developed the standards.

Read the full piece here.

Hartford Courant: Malloy celebrates a school’s turnaround — and his record

“We have miles to go. Don’t get me wrong,” Malloy said, but he added, “It may be time to celebrate some of our successes.”

One of 30 low-performing school systems designated by the state four years ago as Alliance Districts targeted for extra funding, Bloomfield is one of the few districts that has made steady progress in all of its schools, according to a study last year by the Connecticut Council for Education Reform.

 

 

“You have stayed the course,” Malloy told students and educators in a library decorated with a banner carrying the same marketing message the school system has posted on two highway billboards, “Raising the Bar is Taking us Far.”

Read the full piece here.

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