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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE–CCER Urges State Board to Reject PEAC Recommendation

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

New Haven, Connecticut – Today, March 29, 2017, the Performance Evaluation Advisory Council (PEAC) recommended that the state mastery test not be used as a measure of goal attainment for educator evaluations. According to the PEAC recommendation to the State Board of Education, state mastery results can still be used to inform professional development, but cannot be included in an educator’s formal student learning objectives (SLOs). In response to PEAC’s recommendation, Jeffrey Villar—Executive Director of the Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER)—made the following statement:

“When the original teacher evaluation model was developed in 2012, there was general agreement that teacher performance needed to be linked to student outcomes. However, the model has never been fully implemented statewide because of decisions, year-after-year, to temporarily ‘de-couple’ assessment results from teacher evaluations. Just this past fall, a superior court judge in the CCJEF trial referred to the evaluation model—as currently implemented—as “little more than cotton candy in a rainstorm.” PEAC’s vote today fails to address these shortcomings.Read More »

Bringing the Alliance District Program into Focus

Connecticut’s 30 highest-need districts have been called the “Alliance Districts” since 2012. Each year, they receive increased state funding in exchange for producing annual district improvement plans. In total, the state has invested almost half a billion dollars in this program since its inception. In theory, the purpose of these extra funds is to promote innovation. However, many district leaders have reported needing to use the funding to cover much more routine expenses, due to reductions in local funding.

To date, no formal study has been conducted to measure the impact of the Alliance District program overall.

Focus: How Long-term Planning Processes Can Improve State-Led Turnaround in Connecticut is a study of the Alliance District program that was conducted by a research team at the Neag School of Education at UConn. It analyzes the effectiveness of the required annual district improvement plans as tools for change. In addition, it explores the link between these plans and some positive outcomes that districts within the program have seen over time. The findings in this study raise important implications for how best to strengthen the Alliance District program and leverage state improvement dollars.Read More »

True Viral News: Two Connecticut School Systems, for the Rich and Poor

For close to half a century, the aim of scores of lawsuits about public schools across the country has been to require states to improve education for students by spending a lot more money. When the case of Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding v. M. Jodi Rell began, in 2005, that was its goal, too. Last week, after sixty days of a bench trial, Judge Thomas G. Moukawsher, of the Connecticut Superior Court, said that the judiciary cannot set the amount of money the state must spend on education. In a smartly written, sometimes sardonic, and unusually pointed ninety-page opinion, he focused instead on how the state is spending the billions of dollars it does on education and concluded that it is failing miserably.

The Connecticut Council for Education Reform, a bipartisan and moderate group of business and civic leaders, has proposed rationalization of schools as a way to deal with declining enrollment in more than three-quarters of the state’s towns.

Read the full piece here.

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE–CCER Releases Findings of Alliance District Study

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

Hartford, Connecticut – Today, Jeffrey Villar, Executive Director of CCER, along with State Representative Susan Johnson, released the findings of a study conducted by the Neag School of Education at the University of Connecticut. The study, commissioned by CCER, looks at the impact of the Alliance District program and provides insights into how effective planning and monitoring of performance data can lead to improved results.

The study, Focus: How Long-term Planning Processes Can Improve State-Led Turnaround in Connecticut, begins to examine the Alliance District program by analyzing the effectiveness of the annual district improvement plans as tools for change, as well as the link between these plans and some of the positive outcomes that districts within the program have seen over time. Conducted by a research team at the Neag School of Education of the University of Connecticut, this study produces findings with important implications for how best to strengthen the Alliance District program and leverage state improvement dollars.

“The study is important because it highlights the power and potential of improvement planning as a tool for raising outcomes for students in our highest-need districts.” said Jeffrey Villar, Executive Director of CCER. “Specifically, investing in the skills and talents of employees, aligning all elements of the system towards focused outcomes, and careful implementation of research-based practices appear to be necessary components to any effective plan.”

Villar added, “The study also suggests that disruptions in leadership—both at the state-level and in our districts—can impact effective implementation and detract from improvement efforts. To me, though, it appears from the research that the state’s focus on district planning can really be a high-leverage strategy for turning around districts. With consistency in leadership and plan requirements, we can anticipate continued growth among the Alliance Districts.”

Speaking about the improvement that the Windham Public Schools has seen on the metrics that CCER explored, Representative Susan Johnson said, “I am very proud of Windham’s improvement over the past several years. I believe that the district’s improvement plan—emphasizing focus, extended classroom time, capacity-building, and data-monitoring practices—has played a big role in the progress we are making together as a community. The study by the Neag School of Education emphasizes what we have always believed: that long-term commitment to a well-thought out plan will help raise outcomes for our students. In addition, it’s important for the state to continue providing our highest-need districts with the funding they need to improve.”

Dr. Jennie Weiner, the study’s lead research from the Neag School of Education at UConn, said, “This research is important for two key reasons. First, as key documents in publicly articulating districts’ improvement agendas, the Alliance District Plans give us initial insights into how districts are thinking about and likely directing resources towards improvement. Second, these plans take time and resources for district actors to create, negotiate, and monitor. They also serve as the gateway to millions of taxpayer dollars to increase the ability of chronically under-performing and often under-resourced schools to better serve Connecticut’s students. Therefore, any information we might glean about how to make these plans and the planning process more effective is worthwhile and important.”

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 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 www.ctedreform.org

 

CT Mirror – UConn Researchers Say CT’s Chief Education Reform Plans Lack Coherence

By Jacqueline Rabe Thomas

The Alliance District approach was created by lawmakers in 2012 to get the state more involved in improving chronically struggling districts. Now in its fifth year, this report on is the first to assess how the program has done.

Jeffrey Villar, the executive director of CCER, said during a press conference at the Capitol complex that he is concerned that this program is providing too little value under its current setup.

child,” said Joseph J. Cirasuolo, the executive director of the school superintendent’s group, which is part of the coalition suing the state.

Read the full story here.

Focus: How Long‑term Planning Processes Can Improve State‑Led Turnaround in Connecticut

The focus of this report, commissioned by the Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER) and executed by a research team at the Neag School of Education of the University of Connecticut, is to provide insights into how Connecticut’s 30 Alliance Districts—those with the greatest need and a large external investment by the state to support improvement—articulate their yearly improvement plans. It was also to begin to ascertain how these different articulations may relate to different aspects of improved performance.

  • Click here to access the full report by the Neag School of Education.
  • Click here for CCER’s policy implications.

 

 

 

 

 

 

CT Viewpoints (opinion): The General Assembly needs facts, not falsehoods

A recent story in the CT Mirror described a presentation to reporters a few weeks ago by the Connecticut Education Association (CEA), the largest teachers’ union, in which union leaders attempted to expose the spending practices of charter schools. The problem is that the report the CEA was referencing was deliberately misleading –seeking to villainize charter schools during a tight budget year in which education funding will be a key issue.

When a report such as the one released by the CEA utterly ignores nuance or context, it isn’t a sound foundation for an honest and reasonable conversation about how to improve the state’s education funding. Instead, take a look at these six principles for improved education funding, agreed to by a coalition of education stakeholders representing varied constituencies. In the interest of full disclosure, my organization is one of the signatories. We have been debating and analyzing and learning in great detail for more than 2 years in pursuit of real solutions.

Read the full story here.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE–Governor Proposes Changes to School Funding

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

Hartford, Connecticut – Today, February 8, 2017, Governor Malloy’s budget address addressed, among other issues, changes to the state’s Education Cost Sharing (ECS) formula. State education dollars are supposed to be distributed based on the ECS formula, which has been revised numerous times and is currently not being followed at all. In response to the Governor’s address, Jeffrey Villar—Executive Director of the Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER)—made the following statement:

“These proposed changes to ECS are a first step towards solving an important problem in our state. CCER is part of a coalition of education stakeholders that has spent over two years analyzing ECS and contemplating solutions to make it more fair, equitable, and predictable. In line with that coalition’s design principles for improvement, CCER would like to see a new ECS formula based on the following six principles: (1) equitably funding all schools, based on student need; (2) incentivizing innovation and efficiency in support of mastery-based learning; (3) coherence in terms of applicability to all school types; (4) transparency and predictability; (5) fairness in determination of the amount of aid for each community—based on a combination of factors, including multiple measures of property and income conditions, and concentration of low-income students; and (6) transparency of district expenditures, in furtherance of accountability.

“The Governor’s budget indicated a willingness to address many of these principles through measures such as basing the new formula on current enrollment numbers and replacing the current measure for poverty—eligibility for free and reduced priced lunch—for a more precise measure, HUSKY A data.

“In his address, the Governor observed that, ‘education is economic development.’ But if we are truly interested in improving public education so that we can establish a pipeline of skilled and prepared workers in our state, we need to do more than tweak the funding formula. We can’t lose sight of the myriad other issues, raised by the judge in CCJEF v. Rell, that must be resolved if Connecticut students are going to get the education they deserve. Among these issues is that we need to find a more meaningful way of intervening in persistently low-performing districts, ensure that all students are reading at grade-level by third grade, and ensure that when students graduate from high school, they are graduating prepared for success in colleges and careers.

“I feel confident and hopeful that the legislature will engage in meaningful discussions about these and other ideas impacting Connecticut students this legislative session.”

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 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 www.ctedreform.org

 

Bristol Press: Malloy to propose new education funding formula

By Skyler Frazer Staff Writer

‘Taken as a whole, this new formula is intended to bring greater accountability and flexibility in a system that hasn’t been making the grade,’ Malloy said.

Jeffrey Villar, executive director of the Connecticut Council for Education Reform, released a statement following Malloy’s press conference in which he supported the governor’s ECS proposals.

‘CCER is optimistic about these proposed changes to ECS. We are part of a coalition of education stakeholders that has spent over two years analyzing ECS and contemplating solutions to make it more fair, equitable, and predictable,’ Villar said in his statement.

Read the full story here.

The Hour: Fix in school funding formula a top priority for local legislators

A more equitable system for the way Connecticut divvies out money to its public school systems could soon become a reality.

Those core principles were put forward by several other education advocacy organizations as well, including the Connecticut Association of Board of Education, the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents, the Connecticut Association of Schools and the Connecticut Council for Education Reform.

Read the full story here.

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