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Wall Street Journal: Clash Over Connecticut Schools Flares Anew

By Joseph De Avila

Jeffrey Villar, executive director of the Connecticut Council for Education Reform, an advocacy group that doesn’t support increasing school spending, said the state should change how it allocates money between wealthy and low-income school districts to make it fairer. But coming up with a system that doesn’t reduce funding for wealthier districts will be tough as the state faces a $1.5 billion deficit for the coming fiscal year that begins in July, he said.  “I think we face dramatic obstacles in resolving the issue,” Mr. Villar said.

Read the full piece here.

Yankee Institute: Connecticut on the naughty list: our schools aren’t nice to our kids

Connecticut’s naughty education policies betray one of its biggest challenges: the achievement gap between groups of students based on income and background. The Connecticut Council for Education Reform examined Department of Education data on 8th grade math performance to determine that the state has the largest achievement gap in America for low-income students. Achievement levels of white and African-American students show similar disparity.

Read the full piece here.

CT Town & City: Point-Counterpoint

Point-Counterpoint on Teacher Evaluation and Compensation begins on page 20.

By now, it is generally accepted that teachers are the most important in-school lever for improving academic outcomes. Quite rightly, they are also the biggest expense in our education system. So if our aim is to maximize our financial and human resources, we must encourage excellence in teaching. That means identifying how well our teachers perform (evaluation). And it means creating incentives so that excellent teachers are encouraged to stay on and work in our highest-need neighborhoods (compensation).

These issues are too complicated to iron out in a few paragraphs. But, at the end of the day, your position on both teacher evaluation and compensation will ultimately depend on whose needs you think Connecticut’s education system should be structured around serving: teachers or students. The CCJEF trial judge made clear that he believes the ultimate beneficiary of our education system should be kids, not adults. I tend to agree.

Read the full piece here.

Hartford Courant: Education Leaders In Connecticut Lack Enthusiasm For Trump’s Cabinet Choice

By selecting her, he is signaling that the U.S. Department of Education is going to chart a new course and it’s likely one that’s going to be dominated by school choice,” Villar said. “Her history is one of supporting vouchers vehemently and vouchers … are unlikely to have the impact on Connecticut schools that we really need to see.

Read the full piece here.

CTViewPoints: Innovation necessary to solve persistent certification problems

Since our traditional preparation programs haven’t been solving the longstanding problem of minority teacher recruitment, let’s give Relay a try.Since our traditional preparation programs haven’t been solving the longstanding problem of minority teacher recruitment, let’s give Relay a try.

Read the full piece here.

New Haven Register Editorial: Regionalization of school districts must be considered as school enrollment declines

According to the U.S. Department of Education, Connecticut also is expected to have the nation’s third-fastest decline in students enrolled in high school over the next 10 years — an estimated 17,400 fewer students with an estimated 5,400 fewer graduating each year.

So, solutions are needed — but is more regionalization the answer?

It appears to be a sound way to go, but as the towns of Norfolk and Colebrook in Litchfield County recently found out, not everyone is onboard with regionalization or consolidation. Voters split on approving a regional pre-K through sixth-grade school: Norfolk, with 102 students, supported the idea but Colebrook, with 91 students, rejected it.

According to the Connecticut Council for Education Reform, while the number of students may decline, the administrative costs associated with running the schools continues to increase — something state Senate President Pro Tempore Martin M. Looney thinks must be considered.

Read the full story here.

CCER’s 2016 Policy Progress Report

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

In 2012, Connecticut passed landmark education legislation aimed at closing Connecticut’s achievement gap. However, creating meaningful and lasting change requires transforming these policies into practice. Because the key to success is continuous, measurable improvement over time, we use a rubric to quantitatively chart our long-term progress in both passing and implementing these critical levers for change.

At the end of 2016, we found that over 37% of our priorities had been fully implemented. And we embedded our policy progress report into our website so that we can track change in real time.

  • Click here to access the full report. You’ll find our six priority areas, and–within each–the specific policy recommendations we support. At the bottom of each policy area is a rubric that explains how we’ve allotted points.)
  • Click here for a one-page overview of the rubrics.

 

 

 

 

The High School Principal: Leading for Innovation

This sold out event was designed for high school principals and their leadership teams, sponsored by the Connecticut Association of Schools (CAS) and the Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER).

The High School Principal: Leading for Innovation

Tuesday, November 1, 2016 – Sheraton Hartford South Hotel

kafelePrincipal Baruti Kafele

Award-winning turnaround principal and best-selling author. Principal Kafele will discuss the nature of leadership for successful schools.

Dr. Douglas Reevesreeves

Distinguished author and international expert on school reform. Dr. Reeves will discuss the latest research on how high impact leadership can improve schools.

Plus: Panels and Sessions

School leaders will present on topics such as transformative high schools, innovative scheduling, STEM education, externships, team building, and more!

Districts are encouraged to bring a team, which may include district leaders, high school administrators, and teachers. You must register to attend:  http://highschoolprincipal.eventbrite.com

Event Resources

Inkling News: Connecticut Calls for Reevaluation of State Education System and Funding

Jeffrey Villar, executive director of the Connecticut Council for Education Reform, points out that revamping Connecticut’s school system stretches far beyond rationalizing the distribution of funding—it also requires a revamping of the attitudes in and towards lower income schools.

“All [students are] innately capable- but we send messages to some children saying, ‘We don’t expect much from you,’ then we say to other children, ‘You could be the next supreme court justice,’” Villar says.

Read the full story here.

New Haven Register (opinion): New Haven superintendent’s departure underscores need to stabilize local control

Connecticut will barrel into a period in which Bridgeport, Hartford, and New Haven will all be searching for new district leaders — and competing for top candidates. The timing could not be more perfect for the recent superior court decision in CCJEF v. Rell, which called attention to the irrationality of our education system — including Connecticut’s deference to local control. Indeed, as we’re seeing in all three large districts, local control can often create instability that is unfair to kids.

New Haven will undergo a difficult period of transition that leaves administrators and teachers guessing which initiatives most deserve their attention. They will probably have to acclimate to an interim leader before they get a steadier presence in the Superintendent’s office. And even then, how long will this next leader last? Throughout the leadership vacuum, teachers will do what they simply must: close their classroom doors and struggle to meet their students’ needs on their own.

Bridgeport is soon to face a similar vacuum, from the sounds of it, resulting from a total deterioration of the local board.

Isn’t there a better way?

Read the full story here.

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