Browse Categories

Have You Seen the Achievement Gap Inside Your District?

Last year, when students took the Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBAC), the statewide assessment in Connecticut, we gained a lot of interesting information about the academic achievement of Connecticut students. The results are particularly interesting when you can compare what’s happening between districts and within districts. The interactive map on our website allows you to explore some of these patterns.
Read More »

Funding Public Schools in Difficult Economic Times

Connecticut has just tackled a projected $960 million deficit for the 2016-17 fiscal year. This shortfall meant cuts in every aspect of state funding, including a significant impact on the state’s education system.  The Education Cost Sharing (ECS) Grant, the state’s largest education grant, was cut $32.1 million which included a $6.8 million decrease in Alliance District funding. There were also cuts to magnet schools, the Priority School District program and the Excess Cost Grant allocation.[1] Such cuts will likely lead municipalities to provide greater contributions to funding the school district, requiring increases in local property taxes and/or a reduction in the school districts’ current levels of service.Read More »

High Expectations at New Haven’s ESUMS Magnet School

The Engineering and Science University Magnet School (ESUMS) is a public college preparatory middle and high school in the New Haven Public School District, and it is producing some impressive results with its students. When the results of the 2015 Smarter Balanced Assessment came in, we quickly realized that the ESUMS students had outpaced the state and district in both English and Math. 2015 SBAC Data
Read More »

CT’s Special Education Funding Dilemma

In order to alleviate some financial burden, the state of Connecticut administers an Excess Cost Grant to assist school districts with extraordinary special education costs. But he state’s Excess Cost Grant is not designed to reimburse school districts for all of their special education costs. Rather, it only covers a certain reimbursable percentage that fluctuates from year to year. Moreover, the Excess Cost Grant is usually not fully funded by the state. Thus, even with state assistance, districts are still facing the same dilemma every year: allocating funding for special education costs without knowing how much will be needed each year or what percentage will be reimbursed.

This short brief explores the impact of Excess Cost Grant shortfalls by reviewing the history behind this funding, some of the challenges it creates, and a case study of one district.

Click here to download.

The Benefits and Challenges of Student-Based Budgeting

Student-based budgeting—also called weighted student funding and fair student funding—is a method of allocating public school funds in a way that is responsive to students’ needs. Although this concept is relatively new, it has gained popularity in school districts across the country.

This short brief explores the benefits and challenges associated with student-based budgeting.

Click here to download.

Funding Public Schools in Difficult Economic Times

Connecticut has just tackled a projected $960 million deficit for the 2016-17 fiscal year. This shortfall meant cuts in every aspect of state funding, including a significant impact on the state’s education system.  The Education Cost Sharing (ECS) Grant, the state’s largest education grant, was cut $32.1 million which included a $6.8 million decrease in Alliance District funding. There were also cuts to magnet schools, the Priority School District program and the Excess Cost Grant allocation. Such cuts will likely lead municipalities to provide greater contributions to funding the school district, requiring increases in local property taxes and/or a reduction in the school districts’ current levels of service.

This short brief explores options for districts when state and local budgets are tight. (It includes a quote from Charles Zettergren, President of CASBO.)

Click here to download.

 

CT Viewpoints: SBAC provides invaluable information about students — and their teachers

 

I had the privilege to work with talented educators who devoted their lives to reaching every child in their classrooms, literally spending day and night preparing lessons, correcting work or contemplating how to reach a struggling student.  These teachers took their role in their students’ lives very seriously, seeking feedback on ways to improve their craft.  For these teachers, evaluation was not a threat. They were doing their jobs proudly and effectively.  They had nothing to fear, but only information to gain that would help them improve.

In every profession, people are accountable for the work that they do. Is a surgeon a good surgeon because she comes to work each day and is friendly? Or do we look at the number of successful operations and her cure rate?   If a teacher’s job is to teach children, shouldn’t that teacher be accountable for whether or not the children learned that information?

Read the full story here.

CT Viewpoints: State Board of Education demands action on teacher evaluation

 

I applaud the SBE for pushing back on PEAC’s recommendation and drawing a real line in the sand.

Connecticut’s teacher evaluation model, which has never been fully implemented to date, calls for using measures of student growth as one of many components of a teacher’s evaluation. However, during the past two years, the use of state data on student learning has been “de-coupled” or excluded from evaluations.

It is highly unfortunate that Connecticut’s poor students do not have the resources to hire their own lobbyists to rebut the CEA’s proposals. Instead, these students are expected just to accept Connecticut’s education system as is —a system in which 44 percent of Connecticut graduates find themselves in need of remediation when they go to college. That seems like a raw deal to me.

Read the full story here.

New Haven Register: ‘Devil is always in the details’ for school improvement, says CCER director

Villar said CCER’s primary focus is closing the achievement gap between student subgroups in Connecticut.

“Connecticut continues to have the most consistent and largest achievement gap in the country,” he said. “We’re actually doing a very poor job, particularly of educating poor and minority students compared to other states.”

Villar said the organization works with school districts, including New Haven, to examine how they finance education and whether they are doing so equitably. How districts spend their money, however, should depend on their demographics.

“My thing always is: Is it purposeful spending?” Villar said. “New Haven spends more on transportation, because there’s a lot of school choice.”

Read the full story here.

Connecticut’s Special Education Funding Dilemma

As the cost of educating students with disabilities continues to rise, Connecticut’s local municipalities are struggling both to meet federal mandates and to balance their annual budgets. General education costs have risen by 40% over the last decade, and costs for special education have increased by 65%, with one in every eight students receiving special education services.[1] These costs can be particularly burdensome at the district-level because, by their very nature, these needs are supplementary and sometimes unanticipated; districts cannot always predict the full extent of their students’ potential needs.

In order to alleviate some of this burden, the state of Connecticut administers an Excess Cost Grant to assist school districts with extraordinary special education costs.[2] The state’s Excess Cost Grant is not designed to reimburse school districts for all of their special education costs. Rather, these grants only cover a certain reimbursable percentage that fluctuates from year to year. The Excess Cost Grant is also usually not fully funded by the state. Thus, even with state assistance, districts are still facing the same dilemma every year: allocating funding for special education costs without knowing either: (1) the needs of new, incoming students to the district; or (2) what percentage of the costs of extraordinary services will actually be covered by the state’s Excess Cost Grant.

This brief paper explores the impact of Excess Cost Grant shortfalls by reviewing the history behind this funding, some of the challenges it creates, and a case study of one district.Read More »

Page 1 of 5112345...102030...Last »