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2016: Can We Keep the Focus on Kids?

For the past several years, CCER has released an annual report on the state’s progress in passing and implementing our long-term plan to raise academic outcomes for all students, regardless of their race or socio-economic status. Based upon the recommendations we initially put forth in 2011, we developed a rubric so that we can both qualitatively and quantitatively track this progress.

At the end of 2015, we moved to an online format, so that you can track Connecticut’s progress in real time. So far, the state has fully implemented over 37% of our recommendations. We’ve accomplished so much, but there’s still a lot left to do.

We know that a lot of the upcoming legislative session is going to be focused on the budget deficit. But we also know that investing in Connecticut’s students is the best way our state can improve its economic prospects.

Read on to check out what we’ve accomplished to date, and how our 2016 policy priorities will keep the focus on kids!Read More »

Hartford Courant: Teachers want evaluation system changed

Others call it too soon to scrap the system. Jeffrey Villar, a former Windsor school superintendent who now heads the Connecticut Council for Education Reform, said he knows first hand the challenges the new evaluation has presented but remains committed to the idea that teachers have a critical impact upon student learning and therefore there must be a connection between student learning and teacher evaluation.

“To call for a complete disconnect eliminates accountability,” Villar said. Rather than hold press conferences, Villar said CEA should be addressing their concerns to the statewide committee that developed the standards.

Read the full piece here.

Hartford Courant: Union Calls for Dropping State Test Scores from Teachers’ Eval

Earlier this month the CEA recommended eliminating the Smarter Balanced test and replacing it with another test or possibly doing away with a standardized test completely.

State officials and other advocates for education have supported the linkage between the state standardized test scores and teacher evaluations.

Jeff Villar, executive director of the Connecticut Council on Education Reform, said he favors retaining that linkage and added, “With the productive involvement of teachers, I believe we can improve the system and make the connection more meaningful.”

Read the full piece here.

Hartford Courant: Teachers’ Union Calls for Elimination of Smarter Balanced Test

Jeffrey Villar, executive director of the Connecticut Council for Education Reform, said Connecticut has already invested millions over the past five years in developing and piloting the new test, which was first administered to students in every district last spring. “And the CEA’s proposal would throw it all away,” he said. “That just doesn’t make sense.”

Read the full piece here.

Greenwich Time: Teachers want evaluation system changed

Others call it too soon to scrap the system. Jeffrey Villar, a former Windsor school superintendent who now heads the Connecticut Council for Education Reform, said he knows first hand the challenges the new evaluation has presented but remains committed to the idea that teachers have a critical impact upon student learning and therefore there must be a connection between student learning and teacher evaluation.

“To call for a complete disconnect eliminates accountability,” Villar said. Rather than hold press conferences, Villar said CEA should be addressing their concerns to the statewide committee that developed the standards.

Read the full piece here.

Hartford Courant: Landmark School Funding Lawsuit Goes to Trial Tuesday

State Rep. Andy Fleischmann, D-West Hartford, the co-chairman of the legislature’s education committee, said he is sympathetic to the aims of the plaintiffs, but added, “It is simply not true that that increasing expenditure closes the achievement gap. That on its own won’t do it. You must have the right district leaders, schoolteachers and policies in place to move students in a lagging district forward.”

Jeffrey Villar, executive director of the Connecticut Council on Education Reform, said he expects it to be difficult to determine if funding is “adequate and equitable” in cases, for instance, in which a district receives adequate funding but fails to make the systemic changes necessary to meet students’ needs.

“We need to be careful not to fall into the trap of oversimplifying and accepting the concept that improving educational outcomes for students is all about adding more resources,” he said.

Read the full piece here.

CEA Out of Touch: Proposes Costly, 19th Century Solutions to 21st Century Problems

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

New Haven, Connecticut – Today, January 7, 2016, the Connecticut Education Association (CEA) called for Connecticut legislators to abandon the Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBAC). In response, Jeffrey Villar, Executive Director of the CCER, made the following statement:

“The CEA’s proposal is startlingly out of touch, particularly as our state grapples with enormous budget shortfalls. As we contemplate a looming budget deficit, we can’t afford to waste public dollars.

“Connecticut has already invested millions of dollars in developing, field testing, and piloting the SBAC. That investment has spanned five years of hard work, including participation in a multi-state, non-profit consortium by content experts from the Connecticut State Department of Education and hundreds of Connecticut educators. The state also invested millions of dollars in improving district-level technological infrastructures. And the CEA’s proposal would throw it all away. That just doesn’t make sense.

“The SBAC’s 2015 administration only served as a benchmark for future assessments, so we haven’t even explored the test’s full potential yet. I doubt that Connecticut legislators are irresponsible enough to abandon the SBAC after this enormous financial investment and return to an outdated system.

“The legislature has already taken steps to improve and refine the SBAC—in the form of a Mastery Examination Committee. We encourage legislators to continue pursuing this very reasonable course of action.”

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE–CCER Awards Meriden for Innovative Data Systems 

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

New Haven, Connecticut – Yesterday, December 7, 2015, the Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER) presented the Meriden Public Schools with an award for its innovative data systems. In 2014, CCER conducted an analysis Meriden’s data and IT systems, and determined that the district was using some highly advanced data and IT practices to support its strategic plans. Regarding the award, CCER Executive Director Jeffrey Villar made the following statement:

“We were very impressed by several innovative uses of data in the Meriden Public Schools. From using teacher collaboration periods in furtherance of student learning to using advanced school climate surveys that track students’ well-being and school culture—Meriden is innovating in several noteworthy ways. The district exemplifies how data can be used to drive decision-making and improvement.

“That’s why we have teamed up with the district to build a website–schooldataystems.org—that highlights these and other practices. This website contains three sections with self-evaluations that were designed to promote discussions within other district leadership teams about the strengths and weaknesses of their own data and IT systems. Each of these three sections also contains numerous resources and examples to help show how these best practices can be implemented well. A final section features videos highlighting some of the very impressive practices within the Meriden Public Schools.

“With quality strategic plans, cultures, technology, and data, CT’s public school districts can go far. Meriden serves as a terrific example, and we hope that this website will also be a useful tool.”

Read More »

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE–CCER Awards Meriden for Innovative Data Systems 

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

New Haven, Connecticut – Yesterday, December 7, 2015, the Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER) presented the Meriden Public Schools with an award for its innovative data systems. In 2014, CCER conducted an analysis Meriden’s data and IT systems, and determined that the district was using some highly advanced data and IT practices to support its strategic plans. Regarding the award, CCER Executive Director Jeffrey Villar made the following statement:

“We were very impressed by several innovative uses of data in the Meriden Public Schools. From using teacher collaboration periods in furtherance of student learning to using advanced school climate surveys that track students’ well-being and school culture—Meriden is innovating in several noteworthy ways. The district exemplifies how data can be used to drive decision-making and improvement.

“That’s why we have teamed up with the district to build a website–schooldataystems.org—that highlights these and other practices. This website contains three sections with self-evaluations that were designed to promote discussions within other district leadership teams about the strengths and weaknesses of their own data and IT systems. Each of these three sections also contains numerous resources and examples to help show how these best practices can be implemented well. A final section features videos highlighting some of the very impressive practices within the Meriden Public Schools.

“With quality strategic plans, cultures, technology, and data, CT’s public school districts can go far. Meriden serves as a terrific example, and we hope that this website will also be a useful tool.”

Read More »

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE–CCER: NAEP Results Mirror SBAC

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

CCER: NAEP Results Mirror SBAC

Today, the results for the National Assessment for Education Progress (NAEP) were released. Administered nationally every two years, NAEP is the only current exam that allows all American states to compare their students’ achievement. In response to the results, Jeffrey Villar, Executive Director of the Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER) made the following statement:

“The NAEP results released today really matched our expectations. In fact, they mirror Connecticut’s recent SBAC results, which were relatively low, particularly so in Math. For me, the key takeaway is that Connecticut still struggles with gaps in achievement, and we still have so much more work to do before every Connecticut child has a shot at a great education.

“What we need to remember is that our state is on a path to making a long-term change in the way public education works for our students—and this is just one data point along the way. We are working to raise academic standards, use data from a new state assessment, and develop a system for providing professional development to our educators. These aren’t the types of changes that happen overnight, so we can’t expect scores to improve immediately. Proper implementation will take time.”

###Read More »

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