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For Immediate Release–CCER: 2013 NAEP Results Unimpressive: Connecticut Can Do Better

New Haven, Conn- The Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER) today released the following statement in response to the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) results:

Yesterday’s release of the NAEP 2013 results emphasizes the continued need to reshape Connecticut’s public education system.

“With respect to solving Connecticut’s most persistent education problem, the achievement gap, much work still remains to be done. Every child in our state deserves an exceptional education, without exception,” said Jeffery Villar, Executive Director of CCER.

Based on the 2013 NAEP results, Connecticut continues to have the widest gap in the nation between low-income students and their peers. Connecticut also shows large racial gaps in achievement in both reading and math.

On average, Connecticut students have shown no significant change in either reading or math achievement since the 2011 NAEP.

“As a state, I know we can do better,” Villar said. “CCER will do what it can to help in narrowing Connecticut’s achievement gap.”

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From Our New Executive Director: On Education as a Pillar of the American Dream


Yesterday–on Jeffrey Villar‘s first day as executive director–we asked him about his decision to join CCER. Below he discusses his personal story, his career trajectory, and why he thinks education is a pillar of the American Dream.

We’re so excited that Jeffrey has joined our team, and we hope you are too!

We are all the product of the decisions and actions of those who came before us. In my case, my father came to the United States as a fourteen-year-old boy with his older brother and younger sister, leaving his parents behind in Cuba, and fleeing the Cuban revolution. My mother is a self-made woman who, as an adult and mother of three children, returned to school and went from a GED to a highly successful career as an elementary principal. Each of my parents had overcome significant adversity, and through their actions, my siblings and I saw firsthand the importance of hard work, education and opportunity.

These formative experiences and values are largely responsible for my career choices and my belief that a quality public education system is an essential pillar of the American Dream. We must provide all children with a quality education so that they have the opportunity to meet their own fullest potential.

I have held many positions in education throughout my career. I was a high school and middle school history teacher, a high school and middle school assistant principal, and a middle school principal. After that, I served as an associate superintendent, and the superintendent of both Rocky Hill and Windsor Public Schools. Along the way, I struggled toRead More »

Our Report Reveals There’s Much Work Left to Do!

The release of our 2013 Policy Progress Report this week highlights the fact that much progress has been made to advance and implement state-level education reforms. However, even after passing a landmark education reform bill in 2012 and defending funding for these impressive reform packages in 2013, it’s clear that there’s still tons of work left to do.

So what’s new in this report? This year, we’ve introduced a rubric that will help us to hold all Connecticut stakeholders accountable for making the changes we need to narrow our widest-in-the-nation achievement gap. The rubric outlines a 10-year plan, and in just the first two years, Connecticut has already earned 31% of the available points.Read More »

For Immediate Release: CCER Releases 2013 Policy Progress Report


New Haven, Connecticut – The Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER), today released its 2013 Policy Progress Report, a body of work that measures how much progress the state is making on passing and implementing state-level education reforms.

The comprehensive study indicates a strong first year of implementation, but shows significantly more work lies ahead as Connecticut attempts to shrink its widest-in-the-nation achievement gap.

“We have seen great progress for the first year; but this is a ten-year journey, and the achievement gap is not going to narrow overnight,” said Ramani Ayer, vice-chairman of the Board.

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For Immediate Release: CCER Appoints New Executive Director: Jeffrey A. Villar, Superintendent of Windsor Public Schools, Will Start on October 30

New Haven, Conn — The Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER)–a statewide, non-partisan, 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that works to close the achievement gap and raise academic outcomes for all students in Connecticut–today announced that Jeffrey A. Villar has been appointed as its new Executive Director, effective October 30th. Villar, of Mansfield, CT, has a Bachelor’s in History from the Eastern Connecticut State University, a Master’s in Education, and a Doctorate of Philosophy in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Connecticut. Currently serving as the Superintendent of Windsor Public Schools, Villar has spent the last 19 years of his career in Connecticut’s public education system–first as an educator and later as an administrator. Prior to serving Windsor Public Schools, he was Superintendent of Rocky Hill Public Schools. He has also served as the Associate Superintendent for Meriden Public Schools and spent 5 years serving in Hartford Public Schools.Read More »

Hartford Courant: Persistence Key To Education Reform Effort


Connecticut needs to do much more to help low-income children succeed in school.

This year’s Connecticut Mastery Test and Connecticut Academic Performance Test results confirm what everybody already knew: passing landmark education reform in 2012 wasn’t enough. It was a great start to a long and challenging process of reforming public education, but if Connecticut is going to close its achievement gap, it will need to sustain these comprehensive reforms over many years.Read More »

For Immediate Release: CMT and CAPT Results Disappointing; Highlight Need to Continue Timely Implementation of Education Reforms

An early analysis of the 2013 CMT/CAPT student achievement data performed by CCER reveals disappointing results, while highlighting the need for continued, timely implementation of education reforms.

  • Achievement rates for all 3rd graders, regardless of income, have dropped in math, reading and writing. Worse, the 3rd grade achievement gap has increased because low-income students have lost more ground than their peers.
  • 8th grade CMT scores showed similar results, although the drops were less dramatic.
  • 10th grade results were marginally less disappointing. Both low-income students and their peers made modest achievement gains in math. However, the achievement gap for 10th graders widened slightly in math and reading, predominantly because non-low-income students are making gains while scores for low-income students remained stagnant.

Improving student achievement for all children, regardless of income, is imperative for the future of  Connecticut- for both social and economic reasons. In the face of these discouraging results, the challenge for parents, students, educators, boards of education, and legislators is to stay focused on successfully implementing the state’s education reform agenda so that we can make dramatic strides in student learning.

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CCER Introduces Its New Director of Education Transformation


I can remember the day like it was yesterday…

Before returning to my home state of Connecticut, I had the honor to serve as a Principal in a Washington, DC Public School (DCPS) serving students with severe emotional disabilities.

I remember sitting in a leader professional development (PD) session where we were discussing a new report breaking down the achievement gap across the nation (What caused the gap? What strategies were being implemented to close it? Where were the most prevalent issues?) and seeing Connecticut, my home state, at the top of the list; it had the widest achievement gap in the nation.  How could that be? Growing up in Connecticut I had never heard about how poorly our schools were performing, never heard how deep the divide was between high- and low-income communities.  The Connecticut I’d known was a strong, powerful, “well-to-do” state–a state I’d felt did not need my help, a state I’d left after college so that I could work in places that did need me–the US Peace Corps, Teach for America in Hawaii, and New Leaders for New Schools in Washington, DC. Those places, which were struggling to serve their communities, needed my help; not Connecticut.Read More »

For Immediate Release: CCER Supports Governor and Commissioner in Seeking Flexibility for Implementation of New Standardized Tests

New Haven, Connecticut – The Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER), today released the following statement in response to the news that Governor Dannel P. Malloy and Commissioner Stefan Pryor intend to seek flexibility for implementation of new statewide standardized tests.

We support Governor Malloy and Commissioner Pryor’s decision to seek flexibility in implementing the new Common Core State Standards-aligned Smarter Balanced assessments. The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) encourage in-depth learning and mastery of rigorous subject matter, and implementing the CCSS is critical to preparing Connecticut’s students to compete in a global economy. We understand that the successful implementation of the CCSS requires the alignment of curriculum and instruction, as well as professional development for teachers and administrators. We are pleased that, for the first time ever, funding for Common Core implementation was included in the 2013-2015 biennium budget, and we expect that the State Department of Education will use this flexibility wisely to ensure that teachers, administrators and students are all well-prepared for full implementation of the Smarter Balanced assessments in 2014. It is important to give districts the opportunity to adjust to these new changes without losing sight of the education policy reforms that Connecticut has worked so hard to achieve.


About the Connecticut Council for Education Reform

The Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER) is a statewide, non-partisan, 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that 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 do our work primarily by advocating for state policies and state and local practices that research shows have the best chance of raising achievement for high-need student populations. We support reforms that advance best practices and innovations in education to ensure that every child has an exceptional education. Through public awareness, education, and engagement, we seek to broaden support for these efforts and affect long term sweeping change in the public education system. Our Board of Directors is comprised of prominent business and civic leaders who are deeply committed to our mission.


For more information on CCER, go to


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Contact:  Nicki Perkins
C: 203.506.5799
O: 203.859.6615

What the NCTQ Teacher Prep Results Mean for CT


Having an effective teacher is the most important factor in student achievement, but there seems to be little consistency in how we train teachers, according to a new study by National Center on Teacher Quality (NCTQ).  The NCTQ Teacher Prep Review came out recently, rating teacher prep programs from 1,130 academic institutions across the nation.

The institutions were rated on different categories such as how selective they were in admissions, the effectiveness of their student teaching programs, the strength of their curriculum and classroom management programs, and whether the institution tracked the effectiveness of their graduating teachers. Overall, the report’s findings are dismal.  Less than 10% of all programs earned three or more stars on the four-star rating scale.  Only one institution in the entire country earned more than three stars for both an elementary and secondary program (Ohio State University).

The programs rated by the report produce 99% of traditionally trained new teachers, which means what they teach effects many of our nation’s most vulnerable youth. The average first year teacher tends to be assigned to students who are already behind grade level.  Too often these children are low-income and students of color.

Where Do Connecticut’s Teacher Prep Programs Stand?

Connecticut’s ratings wavered between mediocre and terrible.  While none of Connecticut’s 29 rated programs received a “Consumer Warning” for earning less than one star, only the graduate secondary program at Southern Connecticut State University received 3 out of 4 stars, placing them on the Teacher Prep Review’s Honor Roll.  We may not be the worst in the nation, but we are far from being the best. Here’s how Connecticut stacked up nationally:Read More »