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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]


[i] Teacher Shortage Areas, Connecticut Department of Education Data Bulletin, 2014-15, May 2014, retrieved from
[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.


[i] NEAYC List of Accredited Programs, 2014, retrieved from:
[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:

Expand Eligibility for Preschool Slots

Principle Recommendation

Statutory language should be revised so that all low-income children, no matter where they live, are eligible for state-funded, high-quality early childhood programs. Additionally, the OEC should estimate the preschool needs for all children, and not just those who live in low-income communities.

Current Connecticut Statute

School Readiness is the state’s major high quality early childhood program. Since 2012, about 2,000 new slots have been funded in Connecticut’s School Readiness program.[i]

Section 85 of P.A. 14-39[ii] limits eligibility for School Readiness programs to children who live in about 70 communities with high concentrations of low-income children. Because families have to live in school readiness communities for their children to be eligible for School Readiness programs,[iii] up to 2,500 low-income children are excluded from the program.[iv]

In addition to excluding possibly thousands of low-income children from School Readiness, Section 84 of P.A. 14-39 also limits the study of universal preschool to children living in the 70 School Readiness communities.[v]

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.[vi] However, many low-income children are not reached by the state’s School Readiness program because they do not live in School Readiness communities.


[i], Budget Books for FY 2012-13 and FY 2014-15, Office of Fiscal Analysis, retrieved from: and
[ii] P.A. 14-39, “An Act Establishing the Office of Early Childhood, Expanding Opportunities for Early Childhood Education and Concerning Dyslexia and Special Education.”
[iii] “Administered State-Funded Program General Policy14-03”CONNECTICUT STATE OFFICE OF EARLY CHILDHOOD, retrieved from:
[iv] K. Guay calculation.  Subtract Governor’s estimated need of 4,000 slots for universal preschool in the state’s poorest communities (from: from K. Guay original estimate of 6,500 needed slots statewide (revised to 5,500 after additional 1,000 slots in FY 2015).
[v] P.A. 14-39, Section 84 (Section 85 defines “eligible children” as those children eligible for School Readiness programs and not all low-income children).
[vi] 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:

More School Readiness Slots

Principle Recommendation

Connecticut should have universal access to preschool for all low-income children. Creating 1,000 more slots, at a cost of up to $8.7 million, will advance the goal of universal preschool for all low-income preschool children.[i]

Current Connecticut Statute

School Readiness is CT’s state-funded high-quality preschool program, administered by the Office of Early Childhood (OEC).[ii] State statute provides a framework for School Readiness quality (They must be accredited or close to accreditation.); teacher quality (with increasing numbers of Bachelor level educators in classrooms); and funding ($8,670 for full-time slots).[iii]

The OEC has applied for a federal grant to pay for another 428 School Readiness slots. On December 31, 2014, the state should be notified if their grant application was approved.[iv] If so, that would reduce the statewide need to about 5,100.

Supporting Research

Dozens of rigorous studies have shown that low-income children who participated in high-quality early childhood programs experienced gains in early language, literacy, and numeracy skills.[v]

Longer term, low-income children from these quality early childhood programs have lower rates of grade retention and special education identification, higher rates of high school graduation, fewer arrests, and greater rates of college attendance and completion.[vi]



[i] With the addition of about 1,000 new School Readiness slots in FY 2014-15, there is still an unmet state need of about 5,500 slots. This is a calculated number, using the following sources and data elements: Total of preschool students from the Early Childhood Cabinet, retrieved from:; total percentage of low-income preschool students; numbers of FY 2013-14  students in high quality early childhood programs from the CT application for the 2013 Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge, derived from:; FY 2014-15 slots from the Office of Fiscal Analysis, “Highlights of Midterm Budget Adjustments for FY 2015”, retrieved from:“.  Last year, CCER estimated the unmet need of low-income children for quality preschool slots at 6,500; with the addition of 1,020 new slots, that leaves about 5,500 slots still needed.
[ii]  Statutorily, the transfer of School Readiness from the Department of Education to the Office of Early Childhood was done in P.A. 14-39, “An Act Establishing the Office of Early Childhood, Expanding Opportunities for Early Childhood Education and Concerning Dyslexia and Special Education.”
[iii] Section 10-16p and q of the 2014 supplement to the general statutes as amended by P.A. 14-39.
[iv] 2014 PRESCHOOL DEVELOPMENT GRANTS EXPANSION GRANT APPLICATION,  Office of Early Childhood, Oct. 2014, retrieved from:
[v] 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:
[vi] Preschool Education and Its Lasting Effects: Research and Policy Implications. Barnett, W. S. (2008). Boulder and Tempe: Education and the Public Interest Center & Education Policy Research Unit. Retrieved from :

Yale Daily News-ConnCAN urges Malloy to improve education

By Michelle Liu

While Gov. Dannel Malloy and his staff have touted his administration’s efforts to improve education across the state, one advocacy group has urged the governor to take a more proactive role.

Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now (ConnCAN), a pro-charter school nonprofit education group, held a press conference in Hartford hours before Malloy’s State of the State address last Wednesday, pressuring the governor to focus on what they believe is an “education crisis” in the state. ConnCAN supporters criticized the administration in the press conference for trapping 40,000 students in 63 failing schools across the state.

At the press conference, ConnCAN CEO Jennifer Alexander pushed for Malloy, the General Assembly and the state Board of Education to expand school options, such as charter schools, and to make education funding more equitable for children regardless of the school they attend.

“We’ve built better schools, raised test scores, made college more affordable and put Connecticut on a path toward universal pre-kindergarten,” Malloy said in his address a few hours later.

In response to the address, Alexander said in a press release that, although she believes significant progress had been made, the governor and state legislature need to work faster to create excellent schools in the state.

On Jan. 9, Big Six — a coalition of six Connecticut education organizations, including ConnCAN, the Connecticut Council for Education Reform and the Connecticut Business and Industry Association — released a set of expectations for elected officials during this year’s legislative session. These policy goals include a reduction of regulations in order to encourage innovation in school districts, transparent funding and clear frameworks for accountability on school and district improvement.Read More »

Hartford Courant-Legislators Likely to Consider Education Proposals on Charters, Magnets, Uconn Foundation

By Kathy Megan

Legislators say that improving the oversight of charter schools and maintaining the momentum of education reform during a tight budget year are among the key education concerns likely to be addressed this session.

Other topics that have been raised by legislators and by advocates for education include the financial sustainability of magnet schools; the development of incentives to attract teachers to struggling districts; and the need to improve bilingual education.

Among bills already filed, one would require more transparency for the UConn Foundation, and another reflects the frustration of at least one legislator — calling for the elimination of the state Board of Regents for Higher Education.

Here is a look at what various legislators educators and advocates have to say on these issues.Read More »

Big 6 Statement of Principles and Policy Recommendations


Every student in Connecticut, regardless of their zip code, deserves a world-class education. That is the clear message and ongoing commitment of a partnership formed by our organizations, which represent six of the State’s leading education and business groups.[1]

Although our groups represent different stakeholders and perspectives, including school boards, superintendents, principals, advocates, and the business and civic community, we continue to be united in a desire to see systemic change come to our State’s public schools. A shared commitment and resources to support implementation of the reforms that were passed in PA 12-116 will be essential in determining whether these changes bring about true transformation or simply more of the status quo. Further systemic improvement is needed if we are to ensure that every child in our State has access to a great public education.

The decisions our State’s leaders make in the upcoming months will be particularly important to maintaining momentum. Connecticut’s fiscal challenges will force tough conversations and choices about priorities for State spending. Given the importance of education to our State’s economic and civic survival, we must renew our commitment to students in the State. Connecticut has the potential to dramatically transform its public school system, but only with ongoing leadership and commitment from all of us who are working to achieve this goal.

In this spirit, our group is dedicated to working together on the following issues and core principles in 2015 to strengthen public education and equip Connecticut’s students to live full and productive lives. As the legislative session gets underway we will release more specific recommendations.

We remain dedicated to moving these principles forward. 


We know from research that teachers and principals are the most important school-based factors for driving student achievement. Excellent teachers transform children’s lives. Similarly, a strong principal provides invaluable support, guidance, and leadership in establishing a positive school culture and coaching teachers to become more effective at their classroom practice.=

Ongoing and effective evaluations are an essential tool to help both teachers and principals identify their strengths and areas of growth. Across the country and in Connecticut, the strongest evaluation systems are based on multiple measures, including student achievement, and incorporate professional development and support so that these individuals are better equipped to teach and lead. To ensure that these evaluations lead to real change, rather than mere compliance, we must create local and State capacity for these evaluations to be fully implemented in every school across the State.

We recommend the following:

  • Student achievement growth, measured in multiple ways, remain an essential component in both the evaluations of teachers and principals.
  • Teachers receive quality professional development closely linked to evaluations so that they can make true strides and improvement where it is needed most.
  • School and district leaders receive ongoing training and support, given their central role in observing and evaluating the educators on their staff. The State prioritizes funding to support an effective implementation schedule to fully implement the teacher and principal evaluation tools. 


Every Connecticut student deserves to be taught by an effective educator. The first step in building a corps of strong teachers begins with improving the quality of the State’s teacher preparation programs.

More work remains to ensure that prospective teachers are indeed graduating from university training programs with full mastery of content and skills, rather than simply fulfilling seat time (credit) requirements for their coursework. Higher education must remain an active partner in evaluating and improving the rigor of Connecticut’s new teacher corps.

We recommend the following:

  • The accreditation of teacher education programs include measures that directly focus on teacher effectiveness, such as the results of teacher evaluations and student achievement growth.
  • The State makes the results of the preparation programs’ evaluations available to the public.
  • Encourage the growth of non-traditional educator training programs, such as those run by districts or non-profits. These could bring quality options and flexibility to the system and more closely match the needs of schools and students.
  • All training programs require a significant amount of clinical experience in a diverse set of demographic situations.
  • Revise teacher licensing to base it on demonstrated competency and results in the classroom during the clinical experience.


If we want to close our achievement gaps and ensure that all of our students are prepared to succeed in a globally competitive marketplace, we must move away from the traditional “one size fits all” models of schooling. We need to flip the current philosophy of measuring student learning by time on task (“seat time”) to one that sees time as a flexible element and measures learning based on content mastery. In addition, we must provide teachers with the skills and tools needed to personalize student learning and provide each student the greatest opportunity for success, consistent with their primary learning style.

This new system will require us to use technology in innovative ways and to rethink how we use time, allocate resources, and assign both staff and students. It will also mean providing students and families with a variety of public schooling options based on students’ unique learning needs. 

A more student-centered learning environment allows for different areas of focus and learning styles, both of which require schools and districts to think differently about how they structure and allocate their resources. Public school choice is one strategy that can help create a learning experience closely tailored to each student’s needs.

We recommend the following:

  • The State removes statutory and regulatory barriers that prevent schools and districts from reforming the relationship between time and learning. It is overly cumbersome to expect districts to come to the legislature for every exemption and change needed.
  • The State provides increased flexibility and pilot initiatives to allow schools and districts to award credit and degrees for students who can demonstrate content mastery rather than fulfilling Carnegie Units or seat time.
  • The State creates incentives for districts to reevaluate contracts and restructure them to focus on student learning needs.
  • We believe that state law on binding arbitration must be amended so that students’ learning needs are the primary factor guiding the binding arbitration process.
  • The State expands innovative public school options to address the learning needs of every student. 


The challenging budget situation facing Connecticut in the upcoming years provides an important opportunity to consider how education dollars can be spent more strategically and effectively. We strongly believe that the way Connecticut currently funds its public schools is flawed and needs to be fixed. The ECS formula is a challenge to work with from both the educational and municipal perspective.

We encourage State and district leaders to use our scarce education dollars in the most efficient and effective ways possible.

We recommend the following:

  • Utilize a funding formula that is transparent and equitable for students and can be consistently followed by the state to help enable schools and districts to provide every child with an excellent education.
  • Funding should include students across all schools, including magnet and charter schools. Connecticut needs an education funding system that fairly funds students at both traditional and nontraditional schools.
  • In light of the State’s challenging fiscal situation, we strongly advocate that the State make public school funding a top priority and support the successful implementation of the new reforms.


All schools and districts in the State must be held to high standards to ensure that all students graduate from high school ready for college and career. Connecticut needs to improve its accountability system to make sure that all children get a high-quality education.

Connecticut’s current school and district accountability system is based solely on student achievement test scores. Student achievement growth is critical, and should be the primary factor, but should be considered along with several important criteria for determining whether a school or district is serving children well.

As the State move towards full implementation of the new Smarter Balanced assessments (SBAC), Connecticut must adopt a rigorous and holistic framework for accountability that prioritizes student achievement growth and uses multiple measures to determine whether schools and districts are making progress.

We recommend the following:

  • The State must develop a clear definition of college- and career- readiness. This definition must clearly articulate the knowledge, skills, and character traits students should master in order to achieve success in life.
  • The State must then work in partnership with districts to develop a rigorous and holistic framework for accountability that tracks the progress of district and school improvement on an annual basis. The accountability framework should include measures of student achievement growth as the primary factor, along with other critical variables, such as student attendance and school climate.
  • An improved accountability system must be paired with increased flexibility for schools and districts that are improving and serving all groups of students well. School and district leaders that are performing at high levels must be empowered to make good decisions to meet students’ needs at the local level.
  • The public must have timely access to data about how schools and districts are performing. Parents and communities should have easy-to-understand information about the quality of their schools.


Many students across Connecticut are getting a great public education; however, there are still too many students that attend consistently underperforming schools. Dramatic improvement is needed; the students in these schools shouldn’t have to wait any longer for a high-quality education. 

Both the Alliance District program and the Commissioner’s Network have the potential to dramatically boost student achievement and transform schools, but only if all of the parties involved are equally committed to implementing dramatic change and if funding for these efforts remains intact.

We recommend the following:

  • The State must ensure sufficient capacity to intervene in the lowest performing districts and schools and to provide school districts with support to set and implement effective and transformative improvement plans. The State Department of Education needs additional internal capacity so that it can serve as a strong partner in the development of effective turnaround plans, which are implemented with the best teachers, leaders, and staff in place.
  • Provide schools in the Commissioner’s Network with sufficient flexibility to make effective and strategic decisions about hiring, teaching assignments, time, instruction, and resource allocation.
  • The State should partner with and support Alliance Districts so that there is sufficient urgency, resources, and capacity to spark bold transformation. Additional funds should go to those that are making strong improvements and seeing results.


Preparation for the ultimate goals of high school graduation and college and career readiness begins in the earliest grades where the foundations of learning are set. Unfortunately, many students enter preschool and kindergarten already behind their peers in literacy and core skills. Quality early childhood experiences are critical for all students in the State, and they can especially have a meaningful impact for our highest-need students.

We are committed to ensuring that all children have access to programming—beginning at age three—that is developmentally appropriate and staffed by highly effective teachers. The recent expansion of early childhood slots is an important step in the right direction.

We recommend the following:

  • The State continues to strategically target early childhood programs and expanded learning opportunities so that the children who need them benefit most.
  • Continue to improve teacher quality in early childhood programs as well as ensure that these programs are rigorous and standards-based.
  • Ensure that parents have access to clear and accurate information about the quality of early childhood programs.


[1] Our partnership includes the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education (CABE), the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents (CAPSS), the Connecticut Association of Schools (CAS), the Connecticut Business and Industry Association (CBIA), Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now (ConnCAN), and the Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER).


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE–CCER’s Progress Report: We Must Do More In 2015

CONTACT: Nicki Perkins
PHONE: 203-506-5799


CCER’s Progress Report: We Must Do More In 2015

New Haven, Connecticut – Today, December 11th, the Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER) released its 2014 Policy Progress Report. The report uses a rating system to track the state’s progress in effecting the changes needed to narrow Connecticut’s widest-in-the-nation achievement gap and raise academic outcomes for all children.

According to Jeffrey Villar, Executive Director of CCER, “Last year’s report charted the tremendous progress that had been made over the last few years. But this year’s report shows that progress has slowed. The complex and difficult work of transforming Connecticut’s schools and narrowing the achievement gap requires our firm resolve and continued commitment to improving student achievement. CCER stands ready to assist our school districts as they engage in this important work.”

Some of the findings in the report are that Connecticut should:

  • Intervene earlier, as soon as students start falling behind;
  • Broaden its leadership pool by developing Alternate Routes to Certification;
  • Better prepare new teachers, especially to work with low-income students;
  • Do more to reward and retain effective teachers;
  • Create a more transparent and fair funding system for the state;
  • Give the School Turnaround Office more autonomy and hold it more accountable; and
  • Develop a longitudinal data system to drive informed decision-making.

To view the full report and rubrics, click here.


About the Connecticut Council for Education Reform

The Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER)–a statewide, non-partisan, 501(c)(3) not- for-profit organization–works to close the achievement gap and raise academic outcomes for all students in Connecticut. The achievement gap is the disparity in academic achievement between children from low-income families and children of color, and their peers. We advocate for state policies and local practices that research shows have the best chance of raising achievement for high-need student populations.

For more information on CCER, go to

CCER’s 2014 Policy Progress Report


Each year, we hold ourselves accountable by tracking the number of our our policies that are implemented each year from our original 10-year policy plan to narrow the achievement gap.

While last year’s report tracked the tremendous progress that was made over several years, this year’s report shows that progress has slowed. We must do more in 2015!

Download The 2014 Report Now

NBC Troubleshooters-Common Grounds: A Look at New State Education Standards

By Christiane Cordero

It’s just after noon in Cay Freeman’s math mastery class. As her students habitually file in, she greets them with today’s lesson.

“What do you know about area?”

Freeman has taught at Windsor’s Sage Park Middle School for 29 years, but today she’s taking a different approach – one that helps her students reach the Common Core state standards.

“I’m not teaching just a series of steps to get an answer,” said Freeman. “I’m teaching for an understanding.”Read More »

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