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Turning Around Connecticut’s Low-Achieving Schools: A Leadership Challenge

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Ramani Ayer is vice-chair of the CT Council for Education Reform and retired chairman & CEO of The Hartford Financial Services Group.

With 135 schools that have been designated as “In Need of Improvement” for five or more years, it is imperative that Connecticut develop a framework for turning around our low-achieving schools.  In February, Governor Malloy released an education reform bill (S.B. 24) that called for such a framework. It proposed categorizing districts and schools into five performance levels, and establishing a Commissioner’s Network in which the State Department of Education could intervene in the lowest-achieving schools.  Despite being based upon proven frameworks from neighboring states, this proposal was significantly weakened by the Education Committee’s substitute language. Read More »

The Role of the Community in Ed-Reform: Part 1, The Business Role

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Peyton R. Patterson, Chair of the Connecticut Council for Education Reform. Former President & CEO of New Alliance Bank.

We are fortunate to live in one of the wealthiest states in the country. However, we are here today because we also live in the state with the widest achievement gap in the country. This gap has an enormous impact on our state’s low-income students, 40% of whom do not graduate from high school in four years. Studies have shown that high school dropouts have an unemployment rate that is nearly two-and-a half times the rate for high school graduates. They also earn a mere 2/3 of the income of high school graduates, and each cost the state more than $500,000 in net fiscal lifetime benefits. These results are not acceptable outcomes for the state’s students or their parents. They also do not bode well for Connecticut’s business and economic viability. Read More »

Governors Taking the Lead in Education Reform

Today, we’re going to take a look at other state governors who have really taken the initiative and led the charge for education reform in their states.  For a change of pace, we’ve decided to highlight states that we haven’t previously discussed on our blog.  Although many governors have recently introduced laws in support of education reform, Indiana and New Jersey are notable because they both have governors who have outlined clear and comprehensive plans for reform, and then actively pursued legislation to realize their respective agendas.Read More »

The Commissioner’s Role in Turnaround, Part 1

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Ramani Ayer, former CEO of Hartford Financial Services Group

In order for Connecticut to close it’s the achievement gap, which is the largest in the nation, the Commissioner must improve the state’s low-achieving schools.  It is both an economic and moral imperative for Connecticut to begin aggressively turning around schools that have failed its students year after year, some for as long as 9 and 10 years, and develop them into high-achieving schools that provide every student with the knowledge and skills to achieve success.

The new Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, recently requested $25 million from Governor Malloy’s administration to dedicate toward turning around the state’s lowest-performing districts and schools.  As the Commissioner prepares to tackle this important issue, he should focus on three key actionsRead More »

Powers of the SBE, Part 3: Student Achievement in Evaluations

The final State Board of Education superpower that we’ll look at for this week is the ability to require that student growth be given significant weight in teacher and principal evaluations.

Now let’s take a time-out to talk about what we mean when we say “student growth” because we know this phrase alarms some interested parties.

Read More »

Powers of the SBE, Part 2: Framework for Intervention

In our last post, we discussed the State Board of Education’s authority to create a new 5-year plan for the state of Connecticut.

Another power that the Board should be using is the authority to build a system that monitors the performance of all of Connecticut’s districts and schools based on pre-determined academic indicators, identifies which schools and districts are consistently low-achieving, and requires state intervention for those schools and districts.  We call this much-needed system a “framework for intervention.” Read More »

Powers of the SBE, Part 1: The 5-Year Plan

This week, let’s talk about the top three existing authorities that the State Board of Education should be using to reform public education!

The State Board of Education has the statutory authority to prepare a comprehensive five-year education plan, complete with long- and short-term goals, cost analysis, benchmarks, and methods for achieving their goals and objectives. Read More »