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Build State-Level Capacity

Principle Recommendation

The state needs a reform-minded Commissioner of Education and a strong Chief Operating Officer who can work together to expand the capacity of the State Department of Education to oversee the implementation of statewide reform efforts. In order for education reforms to be lasting and consistent across districts and schools, we need a system of accountability at the state-level. This requires the placement of reform-oriented, state-level talent with the capacity to lead, inspire, motivate, and ensure transformational change.

Current State Level Capacity

Connecticut has reorganized the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) to include a School Turnaround Office, a School Talent Office, and an Early Childhood Office.[i] Now we need to build capacity within these departments and the CSDE at large.

One particular challenge for the CSDE—consistent with challenges being faced in other states—is that the role of departments of education has recently shifted. These departments were initially put into place to allocate federal and state funds to local school districts, and to monitor compliance with regulations. However, today we need our CSDE to do more than monitor compliance; we need it to oversee turnaround and analyze the outcomes of innovative new polices and practices.[ii]

We need to bring in talent with specific expertise to oversee policy goals. And we will need our state leaders to run their offices like CEOs who can ensure cooperation

between offices across a shared mission, and who can report progress up an SEA’s hierarchical structure.

Sources

[i] Pryor, S. Press Release (2012). State Board of Education Approves Sweeping Reorganization Plan for State Agency. Retrieved December 2014 from here.
[ii] See e.g., Brown, C. et al. (2011). State Education Agencies as Agents of Change: What It Will Take for the States to Step Up on Education Reform, Center for American; Cambell, C., and DeArmond, M. (2011). State Education Agencies Overlooked in Education Reform? Talent Is The First Place to Start, PIE Network Summit Policy Briefs; Gross, B. et al. (2013). The SEA of the future: Leveraging Performance Management to Support School Improvement, Building State capacity and productivity center; Murphy, P, and Hill, P. (2011). The Changing Role of States in Education: The Move from Compliance to Performance Management, PIE  Network 5th Annual Policy Summit; Murphy, P. and Rainey, L. (2012). Modernizing the State Education Agency: Different Paths Toward Performance Management, Center on Reinventing Public Education.

Encourage Districts to Share Services

Principle Recommendation

The state should provide incentives for all school districts to achieve savings (and reduce their MBRs) through consolidation, sharing of services, and regionalization.  As an incentive for school districts to implement saving initiatives, some measure of these savings should accrue back to the districts and not the town. Legislation would be needed to allow Alliance Districts to fully participate in this program.[i]

Current Connecticut Statute

Public Act 14-38 embraces the recommendations of the Uniform Regional School Calendar Task Force, which requires that each school district adopt a regionally consistent school calendar, by July 1, 2016.[ii] A common school calendar will make it easier for school districts to consider regionalizing expensive services such as transportation.

Public Act 14-47 provides $95,000 in FY 2014-15 for costs associated with regionalization.[iii] These funds can be used to cover the legal and other fees incurred when districts consider consolidating their services.

There is also an incentive for non-Alliance Districts to become more efficient: the Minimum Budget Requirement can be adjusted by up to one-half percent if the district realizes documentable savings through efficiencies.[iv]

Supporting Research

About one-quarter of CT’s school districts have 1,000 or fewer students.  These districts run the gamut from high-spending ($25,000/student) to extremely low-spending communities ($12,000).[v] It costs about $30,000[vi] for a study about consolidating the small district services, the funding for which could come from the existing grant (but it would have to be increased if more districts were to be included).

Sources

[i] Section 10-262i does not allow Alliance Districts to reduce their budgets for consolidation, regionalization, or shared services.
[ii] P.A. 14-38, “An Act Concerning the Recommendations of the Uniform Regional School Calendar Task Force, Licensure Exemptions for Certain After School Programs, and Expanding Opportunities Under the Subsidized Training and Employment Program,” retrieved from: http://www.cga.ct.gov/2014/BA/2014HB-05559-R010756-BA.htm
[iii] P.A. 14-47, “ An Act Making Adjustments to State Expenditures and Revenues for the Fiscal Year Ending June 30, 2015,” retrieved from: http://www.cga.ct.gov/2014/ACT/PA/2014PA-00047-R00HB-05596-PA.htm
[iv] Section 10-262(i) of the Ct. General Statutes, 2014 Supplement, retrieved from: http://www.cga.ct.gov/2014/sup/chap_172.htm#sec_10-262i
[v] Report on the Study of Small School Districts, Connecticut Department of Education, 2013, shared with K. Guay by the State Department of Education.
[vi] Ibid.

Link Data on Spending and Teacher Quality

Principle Recommendation

Require the Uniform Chart of Accounts to include information about the distribution of effective teachers.

Current Connecticut Statute

C.G.S. 10-10c requires the creation of a Uniform Chart of Accounts (UCOA) at the school-, district-, and state-levels. The UCOA will require each public school to report its expenditures and revenues in the same way.

The UCOA will ensure that each school in the state consistently reports its financial information.  Although the statute is not specific about the non-financial information that could be included in the UCOA, it is important to tie this financial information to school level qualitative data so that we can measure the longitudinal effectiveness of publicly funded education programs. [i]

Supporting Research

Connecticut spends about $5 billion on elementary and secondary education. [ii]  Each community collects and reports its information about education expenditures differently, making financial comparisons problematic.  For instance, Bridgeport maintains 19 separate governmental funds, which makes comparisons of Bridgeport’s school expenditures with those in other communities challenging.[iii]

Other states have made the reporting of school and district information a priority.  For instance, as part of its education reform program, Rhode Island has required each public school to use the same accounting structure that enables “apples-to-apples comparisons”.[iv]  With this comparative information, it is expected that policy-makers will use this data to inform and improve their financial decision-making.

Michigan has gone even further in the creation of its UCOA; the state collects and publicly reports school level financial, teacher, student, and accountability data on an easy-to-use dashboard.[v] With such a usable format, policy-makers can access important data that helps inform their education policy decisions.  Additionally, families can use this data to help them make educational choices for their children.

Sources

[i] C.G.S. 10-10c allows the UCOA to include” select measures … at the individual school level, as determined by the department” but its non-specificity seems to be leading away from important qualitative measures such as teacher effectiveness.
[ii] Estimate updated by K. Guay based on FY 2012-13 state funding calculated by the State Department of Education, retrieved from here: http://www.sde.ct.gov/sde/lib/sde/PDF/dgm/report1/lsf.pdf
[iii] City of Bridgeport, CT, Financial Report, June 30, 2013, retrieved from: https://www.appsvcs.opm.ct.gov/Auditing/Public/Report.aspx
[iv] Uniform Chart of Accounts, Rhode Island Department of Education, retrieved from: http://www.ride.ri.gov/FundingFinance/SchoolDistrictFinancialData/UniformChartofAccounts.aspx
[v] Michigan School and Financial Data dashboard, retrieved from: https://www.mischooldata.org/DistrictSchoolProfiles/FinancialInformation/FinancialSummary.aspx

Increase Administrator Alternate Routes to Certification

Principle Recommendation

Require the Office of Higher Education, in consultation with the State Department of Education, to create an Alternate Route to Certification (ARC) program for school leaders by July 1, 2016.

Current Connecticut Statute

Public Act 10-111 required the SDE to approve an ARC administrator program for potential participants who had at least four years of teaching experience and who would agree to work as administrative residents for one year. Currently, there is only one such program, and its participants must agree to work in the cities of Hartford, New Haven, or Bridgeport.[i]

Supporting Research

The administrator position is a designated shortage area year after year in Connecticut.[ii]  From 2012 to 2014, there were not enough qualified administrator candidates available to fill needed vacancies. This resulted in 23 administrators being hired via a Durational Shortage Area Permit (DSAP), which was the highest number of DSAPs used for any of the educator ten shortage areas.[iii] Compounding this shortage problem, in the next five years, it is estimated that 46% of current administrators will reach retirement age.

Additionally, CT’s neighboring states in the NY metropolitan area and New England region participate in administrator reciprocity agreements.[iv] With the exception of New Jersey, CT’s neighbors also require fewer than the 5 years of teaching experience required of CT administrators. [v]

Connecticut’s ARC program for teachers is mostly self-supporting (tuition=$4,000) and is run by the Office of Higher Education. Since the ARC was created in 1986, over 4,800 educators have been prepared, including the 2007 CT Teacher of the Year[vi].

Sources


[i] Achievement First Residency Program for School Leadership FAQs, retrieved from: http://www.achievementfirst.org/our-approach/residency-program/faqs/
[ii] Teacher Shortage Areas, Connecticut Department of Education, 2014-15, July 2014, retrieved from: http://www.sde.ct.gov/sde/lib/sde/pdf/circ/circ14-15/c1.pdf
[iii] Teacher Shortage Areas, Connecticut Department of Education Data Bulletin, 2014-15, May 2014, retrieved from http://www.sde.ct.gov/sde/lib/sde/pdf/evalresearch/databulletinmay2014.pdf
[iv] Ibid.
[v] Administrator License Requirements, Portability, Waivers and Alternative Certification,  The Education Commission on the States, retrieved from: http://mb2.ecs.org/reports/Report.aspx?id=859
[vi] Office of Higher Education, Overview of the Alternative Route to Certification, retrieved from:http://www.ctohe.org/arc/pdfs/ARCCatalog/2014ARCII/I_Overview.pdf

Permit Administrator Reciprocity

Principle Recommendation

Allow out-of-state, qualified leaders to become school leaders (e.g., deputy superintendents, assistant superintendents, principals, assistant principals, and curriculum coordinators).[i]

Current Connecticut Statute

CT requires 5 years of teaching experience for school administrators.[ii] Connecticut does not belong to any interstate administrator reciprocity agreements. Some of the state’s requirements for out-of-state administrator candidates go beyond what is required of those candidates in their own states, which makes it difficult to recruit and retain out-of-state highly qualified administrative candidates.

Recently an exceptional West Hartford administrator was forced to resign her position because her out-of-state teaching experience was not judged sufficient to meet the teaching requirements for a CT administrator certificate.[iii] This would not have happened if CT had accepted this administrator’s out-of-state qualifications. Connecticut could broaden the pool of exceptional leaders in this state by passing legislation to permit administrator reciprocity.

Supporting Research

The administrator position is a designated shortage area year after year in Connecticut.[iv]  From 2012 to 2014, there were not enough qualified administrator candidates available to fill needed vacancies. This resulted in 23 administrators being hired via a Durational Shortage Area Permit (DSAP), which was the highest number of DSAPs used for any of the educator ten shortage areas.[v] Compounding this shortage problem, in the next five years, it is estimated that 46% of current administrators will reach retirement age.

Additionally, CT’s neighboring states in the NY metropolitan area and New England region participate in administrator reciprocity agreements.[vi] With the exception of New Jersey, CT’s neighbors also require fewer than the 5 years of teaching experience required of CT administrators. [vii]

Sources

[i] Connecticut Regulations, Section 10-145d-57, retrieved from: http://www.sots.ct.gov/sots/lib/sots/regulations/title_10/145d.pdf
[ii] Ibid.
[iii] Hall High School Assistant Principal Resigns Over Certification Issue, Suzanne Carlson, Hartford Courant, Nov. 6, 2014, retrieved from: http://www.courant.com/community/west-hartford/hc-west-hartford-hall-assistant-principal-1106-20141105-story.html
[iv] Teacher Shortage Areas, Connecticut Department of Education, 2014-15, July 2014, retrieved from: http://www.sde.ct.gov/sde/lib/sde/pdf/circ/circ14-15/c1.pdf
[v] Teacher Shortage Areas, Connecticut Department of Education Data Bulletin, 2014-15, May 2014, retrieved from http://www.sde.ct.gov/sde/lib/sde/pdf/evalresearch/databulletinmay2014.pdf
[vi] Ibid.
[vii] Administrator License Requirements, Portability, Waivers and Alternative Certification,  The Education Commission on the States, retrieved from: http://mb2.ecs.org/reports/Report.aspx?id=859

Increase Teaching Experiences in Preparation Programs

Principle Recommendation

Teacher preparation programs should focus on clinical practices so that novice educators can be effective in their first classrooms. Connecticut statutes should be revised to require educator preparation programs to provide prospective educators with 500 hours (14 weeks) of consistent, robust, and meaningful student teaching experiences.

Current Connecticut Statute

Beginning in 2015, Connecticut will expect student educators to have four semesters of clinical experience.[i] Additionally, state regulations require prospective educators to spend a minimum of 10 weeks on student teaching.[ii]

Supporting Research

Research indicates that teacher preparation that is directly linked to educator practice produces more effective 1st year teachers.[iii]

A national survey of educator preparation programs found, on average, that student teaching experiences were in the range of 500-562 hours (13-16 weeks).[iv] In contrast, student teacher hours vary significantly in CT–where candidates spend an average of from 300 to 560 hours student teaching.[v]

California State University’s partnership with Fresno, CA schools requires teacher candidates to spend a year on student teaching.[vi]  The results of this 8-year partnership have been striking; student performance has jumped from the bottom to the top tier of school districts and teacher attrition has plummeted from 40% to around 4%.[vii]

Sources


[i] C.G.S. 10-145a
[ii] Connecticut Regulations, Section 10-145d, retrieved from: http://www.sots.ct.gov/sots/lib/sots/regulations/title_10/145d.pdf
[iii] Teacher Preparation and Student Achievement, Donald J. Boyd, Pamela L. Grossman, Hamilton Lankford, Susanna Loeb, James Wyckoff, Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, December 2009, Vol. 31, No. 4, retrieved from: http://cepa.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/Preparation%20and%20Achievement.pdf
[iv] Ibid.
[v] Federal Department of Education Title 2 data from FY 2013, retrieved from https://title2.ed.gov/Public/Report/PrintSection.aspx?Year=2013&StateID=09&Section=130150
[vi] The Clinical Preparation of Teachers: A Policy Brief from the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, 2010, retrieved from: http://www.uni.edu/coe/sites/default/files/wysiwyg/AACTE_-_Clinical_Prep_Paper.pdf
[vii] Ibid.

Share Teacher Performance Data with Educator Preparation Programs

Principle Recommendation

P20 WIN should be given a statutory deadline of July 1, 2016 to deliver this data framework to educator preparation programs. Effective teachers boost student achievement.[i] States that seek to focus teacher preparation programs on effectiveness require robust data systems and data sharing.[ii]

Connecticut’s longitudinal data sharing program, P20 WIN,[iii] does not have the current capacity to share teacher performance data with educator preparation programs.[iv]

P20 WIN must provide educator preparation programs with critical data linking their candidates with their school district jobs and related student growth data. Educator preparation programs should have the tools with which to improve their programs. If they do not, their licenses should be at risk.

Current Connecticut Statute

The Connecticut State Board of Education licenses educator preparation programs.[v] A preparation program’s continued licensing is not strictly linked to the performance of the educators it produces.[vi] In 2012, the Educator Preparation and Advisory Council (EPAC) was established to restructure the state’s educator preparation system.[vii] The P20 WIN data system will provide the framework for the EPAC accountability system.[viii]

Supporting Research

In a survey done by the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, most of the responding institutions said they tried to track their graduates, but only about one-third succeeded.[ix] Only 8% of them had student performance data associated with their graduates.[x]

Sources

[i] Wright, S. P, Horn, S., and Sanders, W. (Journal of Personnel Evaluations in Education) (1997). Teacher and Classroom Context Effects on Student Achievement: Implications for Teacher Evaluation. Retrieved November 2014 at http://bulldogcia.com/Documents/Articles/Wright_Horn_Sanders_1997.pdf.
[ii] Education Commission of the States (2014). The Progress of Education Reform: Effectiveness-Focused Teacher Preparation. Retrieved November 2014 at www.ecs.org/clearinghouse/01/15/35/11535.pdf
[iii] Since federal funding provided for the creation of the State Longitudinal Data System in 2009, P20 WIN has succeeded in executing the legal agreements for the “participating agencies to share data, developed a data governance framework to guide data sharing, and selected a technical model for implementation.” P20 Win Data Sharing Website (n.d.) Retrieved November 2014 at www.ct.edu/initiatives/p20win#approach.
[iv] Ibid.
[v] C.G.S. 10-145b.
[vi] Connecticut regulations about the continued licensure of educator preparation programs speak about student teaching performance and student candidate knowledge in the classroom, but not specifically about how certain educators improve (or don’t improve) student achievement. Title 10-145d of the Connecticut General Regulations.
[vii] Letter from Stefan Pryor and Robert Kennedy to EPAC members, retrieved from: http://www.sde.ct.gov/sde/lib/sde/pdf/epac/epac_invitation_letter.pdf
[viii] EPAC presentation of Feb. 25, 2014, retrieved from: http://www.sde.ct.gov/sde/cwp/view.asp?a=2760&Q=334636
[ix] The Changing Teacher Preparation Profession,Washington, D.C. American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, 2013, retrieved from: https://aacte.org/news-room/13-press-releases-statements/145-aacte-releases-first-national-data-report-on-teacher-preparation-profession
[x] Ibid.

Restructure Incentives for Exceptional Teachers

Principle Recommendation:

Restructure an incentive program to attract and retain exceptional teachers in low-performing schools and districts. This program should be restructured to include grants (for education majors in their junior and senior years of college) and loan reimbursement funding (incentives to teach in the Alliance Districts for four years).

Current Connecticut Statute

Section 10-265o of the Connecticut General Statutes established (but did not fund) an incentive program to encourage high performing teacher candidates to work in the 10 lowest performing districts.

Supporting Research

The Office of Higher Education’s Minority Teacher Incentive and the Weisman Scholarship Programs[i] provides scholarships of $5,000 (a year) for college juniors and seniors; after graduation, educators get up to $2,500 (for each of four years to pay off loans) if they meet their teaching requirements. The Minority Teacher Incentive Program awarded 70 grants in FY 2012-13.[ii] The table below compares the existing statutory program with this more robust proposal:

table

 

Sources


[i] The Office of Higher Education, explanation of Minority Teacher Incentive and Weisman Scholarship programs, retrieved from: http://www.ctohe.org/SFA/pdfs/MTIPForm.pdf
[ii] Scholarship Experts, retrieved from:https://www.scholarshipexperts.com/scholarships/all/ct-minority-teacher-incentive-grant-program/1290#.VF0ofsmQM40

Permit Teacher Reciprocity

Principle Recommendation

Attract teachers who were certified out-of-state through reciprocity. School districts should have the flexibility to hire exceptional teachers without the current regulatory barriers created through time-intensive processes for recertification in Connecticut. If already certified and high-performing in another state, a teacher should be afforded streamlined access to teach in Connecticut public schools. Unlike Connecticut, many states have reciprocity agreements that make it simple for teachers from one state to become licensed in another.

Current Connecticut Statute

Connecticut does not have automatic reciprocity with other states. Instead, it has one-sided reciprocity agreements, permitting Connecticut-certified teachers to work in other states, but not necessarily permitting teachers from those other states to be automatically certified in Connecticut.

This creates two problems for Connecticut’s pool of great teachers. First, it prevents Connecticut from recruiting among the excellent teachers certified in other states. Second, it creates a system that allows other states to recruit Connecticut-certified teachers, but does not give Connecticut anything in return.

Supporting Research

It is difficult to recruit and retain educators in the state’s lowest performing school districts.[i]

  • Of CT’s 30 Alliance Districts, the ten lowest performing had a 141% increase in the number of vacant positions from 2012-2014, even though the number of positions only increased by 2%.[ii]
  • For the rest of the Alliance Districts, there was no overall increase in positions from 2012 to 2014, but the number of available positions increased by 37%.[iii]
  • This shortage of qualified educators will be exacerbated when 27% of all teachers will be eligible for retirement in 2018.[iv]

Sources


[i] Teacher Shortage Areas, Connecticut Department of Education Data Bulletin, 2014-15, May 2014, retrieved from http://www.sde.ct.gov/sde/lib/sde/pdf/evalresearch/databulletinmay2014.pdf
[ii] Ibid.
[iii] Ibid.
[iv] Ibid.

Early Childhood Scholarship

Principle Recommendation

To reach children who do not live in school readiness communities, CT should establish an early childhood scholarship program and fund it with surplus school readiness funding. This scholarship program would repurpose leftover School Readiness funding to serve low-income children who do not live in School Readiness communities. Students could use their scholarships to attend one of the 130 preschool programs accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children, which the serve communities across the state.[i]

Current Connecticut Statute

Historically, there are surplus funds in the School Readiness account (due to children dropping out/moving, etc.). Redirecting this surplus funding to fund scholarships for low-income children to attend accredited preschool programs should be the priority use for this funding.[ii]

Supporting Research

There are dozens of rigorous studies that have shown that high-quality early childhood programs can provide low-income children with gains in early language, literacy, and numeracy.[iii] However, many low-income children are not reached by the state’s School Readiness program because they do not live in School Readiness communities.

Sources


[i] NEAYC List of Accredited Programs, 2014, retrieved from: http://www.naeyc.org/academy/accreditation/search
[ii] These uses include funding for provider professional development and accreditation costs found in C.G.S. 10-16p of the 2014 Supplement of the General Statutes, as amended by P.A. 14-39 –but the Office of Early Childhood has other funding sources with which to pay for these types of early childhood quality enhancements.
[iii] Investing in Our Future: The Evidence Base on Preschool Education. New York: Foundation for Child Development and Ann Arbor, MI: Society for Research in Child Development. Yoshikawa, H., Weiland, C., Brooks-Gunn, J., Burchinal, M., Espinosa, L., Gormley, W., Ludwig, J.O., Magnuson,
K.A., Phillips, D.A., & Zaslow, M.J. (2013). Retrieved from: http://fcd-us.org/site
s/default/files/Evidence%20Base%20on%20Preschool%20Education%20FINAL.pdf
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