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New Haven Register–Reform Advocates Seek More Connecticut Pre-School Slots

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By Michelle Tuccitto Sullo

NEW HAVEN >> A nonprofit education organization is hoping to gain legislative support for several of its objectives for 2014, such as the creation of more preschool opportunities for children in low-income families.

The New Haven-based Connecticut Council for Education Reform, which works to improve academic outcomes for students statewide, is pursuing five recommendations for the upcoming legislative session.

One proposal is to finance 500 to 1,000 new preschool slots for low-income children in the 2014-15 budget year.

“We estimate there are about 6,500 children who could use pre-K slots that don’t exist,” said Jeffrey Villar, council executive director and a former superintendent of schools in Rocky Hill and Windsor.

“We know preschool makes a significant impact on students and helps close the achievement gap” between children from low-income families and their peers.

Nicki Perkins, program manager for the council, said this proposal is estimated to cost Read More »

A Primer About Education Finance in Connecticut

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This year, it will cost about $11 billion to educate the half a million students in Connecticut’s K-12 public education system. That covers teachers, principals, and building costs (including debt service), as well as the payments for employees’ health insurance and future pension costs.

The cost of public education in each state is usually split between three major sources: local governments, state governments, and the federal government. In most states, state governments pay for just under 50% of the costs, local governments pay for just over 40% of the costs, and the federal government pays almost 10%. However, in ConnecticutRead More »

Bristol Press–OUR VIEW: Offering Another Alternative

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Jeffrey A. Villar, executive director of the Connecticut Council for Education Reform, an education-minded group of business executives, recently told the State Board of Education that the state needs more “transformative” leaders.

His proposal, the Journal Inquirer reported, is that the state loosen its accreditation restrictions on school principals and other administrators. That would allow the state to expand its alternate certification program to principals, creating something similar to the path it now offers for midcareer professionals who want to bring their earned expertise to teaching through the Alternate Route to Certification program, offered by New Britain’s own Charter Oak State College.

We think it’s a good idea.Read More »

Journal Inquirer–Education Group Reveals Priorities

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By Ed Jacovino

HARTFORD — For an education-minded group of business executives, the biggest priority for fixing the state’s schools is keeping the changes lawmakers adopted in 2012 on track.

“What was accomplished in 2012 was significant,” Ramani Ayer, vice chairman of the Connecticut Council for Education Reform, told the State Board of Education this week. “Having reform does not mean students learn and does not mean students attain. Implementation of these reforms is 90 percent of the work.”

Ayer, a former CEO at The Hartford, said in outlining the group’s priorities to the board that first on the list is to “defend” the 2012 law and to fight against “rollback and defunding.”

The law created a new evaluation system for teachers and made it easier for school boards to fire educators, changing the standard from “incompetent” to “ineffective.”

The law also gave the state additional authority to intervene in low-performing schools, funneled more state money for education into low-performing school systems, and expanded access to preschool in urban areas.

Ayer said he doesn’t want the changes to be abandoned simply because people didn’t see results quickly enough.Read More »

CCER on the Stan Simpson Show

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On January 11th, Jeffrey Villar’s interview with Stan Simpson aired on the Stan Simpson Show. View the discussion of our legislative agenda for 2014 here.

Hearst Communications–CT Council for Ed Reform Unveils Top Priorities

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By Eileen Fitzgerald

The Connecticut Council for Education Reform today released its policy priorities for the 2014 legislative session.
Jeffrey Villar, CCER’s executive director, said the organization’s primary priority is to protect the education reforms passed through legislation in 2012 and 2013.

“The key to a more prosperous future for our state is providing every single child with a world-class education,” Villar said. “That’s why we need to sustain the reform efforts that began in 2012, and we need to support their successful implementation. That means no de-funding. No delays.”

CCER’s four other priorities for this coming legislative session are to:Read More »

CCER on Mornings with Ray Dunaway

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On January 10th, Jeffrey Villar interviewed with Ray Dunaway to talk about our 2014 legislative agenda. Catch the clip from Mornings with Ray Dunaway here.

For Immediate Release: Connecticut Council for Education Reform Releases Its 2014 Legislative Agenda

New Haven, Connecticut – The Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER), today released its policy priorities for the 2014 legislative session. Jeffrey Villar, CCER’s executive director, said the organization’s primary priority is to protect the education reforms passed through legislation in 2012 and 2013.

“The key to a more prosperous future for our state is providing every single child with a world-class education,” Villar said. “That’s why we need to sustain the reform efforts that began in 2012, and we need to support their successful implementation. That means no de-funding. No delays.”

CCER’s four other priorities for this coming legislative session are to:

  • Provide the preschool experience to all Connecticut children from low-income families so that they get the starts they deserve–regardless of their family’s income;
  • Remove unnecessary barriers that discourage talented district leaders from working in Connecticut;
  • Ensure that education dollars are invested where they will be most effective, like funding extended learning opportunities; and
  • Jumpstart the development of a quality statewide longitudinal data system in Connecticut that allows us to track the achievement of every student from pre-K through college.

Read More »

CCER Presents Recommendations to State Board of Education

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On January 8th, Jeffrey Villar, executive director of CCER, made a presentation to the State Board of Education (SBOE). View the PowerPoint with recommendations to the SBOE here.

For Immediate Release: CCER’s Executive Director, Former Superintendent of a SEED Pilot District, Comments on Neag Study

New Haven, Conn–With yesterday’s release by the Neag School of Education of its report on the pilot implementation of SEED—CCER’s executive director, Jeffrey Villar, reflected on his experience leading one of the districts that piloted the program. “I was pleased that Neag’s study shows the Connecticut System for Educator Evaluation and Development (SEED) to be making positive changes in practice amongst teachers and administrators,” said Villar. “I was the superintendent of one of the pilot districts that implemented SEED, and I saw the very same positive changes taking place in my district.”
 
The Neag report–titled “An Evaluation of the Pilot Implementation of Connecticut’s System for Educator Evaluation and Development”–is based upon data collected within the eight districts and two consortia that piloted the SEED program between September 2012 and October 2013. Hundreds of interviews and surveys were conducted amongst district and school leadership, teachers, union leaders, and representatives of Regional Educational Service Centers.

The findings show that the program has already had a measurable impact on the professional practice of educators, who are generally supportive of the model and believe it can have a positive impact over time. Indeed the majority of educators within the pilot districts reported increased time spent on evaluation activities, with valuable and reliable results. However, the study finds that teachers and leaders would still benefit from higher levels of support as this new evaluation model is rolled out.

“When we were piloting the program in my district,” Villar reported, “it was very clear that we need to be providing administrators with more time and training on how to provide actionable feedback to their teachers. Like any complex system, it has to be implemented properly if it is going to be a success. I am excited that the pilot was a success, and CCER looks forward to supporting districts as they continue to implement this program”.

Dr. Villar has spent almost two decades within Connecticut’s public education system, and he now heads up CCER, working to reform the educational system so that every child receives an exceptional education, without exception.

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