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Hartford Courant: Bloomfield’s James Thompson Named Superintendent of the Year

By Steven Goode

During his tenure, the high school graduation rate has increased by 17 percentage points and Bloomfield students have outgained state averages on standardized test scores.

Jeffrey Villar, executive director of the Connecticut Council for Education Reform, which has worked with Bloomfield schools, said Thompson is a “perfect choice” for the award.

“His 40 years of experience is really paying off for Bloomfield,” Villar said.

Read the full piece here.

The Literacy Leadership Institute

Dear School Leader, 

The education landscape is riddled with abandoned initiatives that have failed to deliver on their hefty promises. What goes wrong? Was the initial research that compelled us to embrace the approach flawed?  Did we err in our selection of the strategy?  Or did we simply fail to effectively implement the initiative with fidelity?  We can fall victim to the latter when we measure outcomes without also measuring outputs. “Outcomes” tell us about the long-term impact of our efforts, while “outputs” help us to identify whether an intervention was delivered in the first place.

To draw reasonable conclusions about whether an initiative in our school is working for our students, we need to see the relationships between outcomes and outputs. In other words, we need to monitor implementation

That’s the context for our upcoming leadership series, The Literacy Leadership Institute. This is an opportunity for select leaders—current and aspiring—to work with international and local experts on effectively implementing and monitoring literacy programs. This year-long series will help you think about what’s working in literacy, explore useful resources, and ramp up your literacy efforts. It will also impart broad leadership skills that will help you to monitor the implementation of other initiatives. (Click here to learn more!)

Applications are due December 1st, and we look forward to hearing from you. 

Sincerely,

Karissa Niehoff | Executive Director, Connecticut Association of Schools

Jeffrey Villar | Executive Director, Connecticut Council for Education Reform 

Hartford Courant (Editorial): Secret Superintendent Evaluations Unacceptable

Jeffrey A. Villar, executive director of the Connecticut Council for Education Reform, called for a balance between privacy and the public’s interest, saying, “There’s a certain level of privacy you give up when you sign on as a superintendent,” he said.

He’s right.

Legislators must align the evaluation process with the spirit of open government.

Read the full piece here.

Hartford Courant: Superintendent Evals Public Under State Law, But It Doesn’t Always Work Out That Way

Jeffrey A. Villar, executive director of the Connecticut Council for Education Reform, said he is in the process of comparing Connecticut’s laws regarding superintendency to those in other states, to possibly develop a policy recommendation for legislators.

Villar said there needs to be a balance between maintaining employee privacy and acting in the public’s interest.

“A town does have a right to know, is the superintendent hitting the targets as established by the board [and] how does the board feel about the superintendent’s performance … That’s appropriate for a public official. There’s a certain level of privacy you give up when you sign on as a superintendent,” he said.

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.

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.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE–CCJEF Appeal Is No Excuse for Delay

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

New Haven, Connecticut – Today, September 15, 2016, Connecticut Attorney General George Jepson announced plans to appeal Judge Thomas Moukawsher’s decision in the decade-long trial, CCJEF v. Rell. Although the trail was about the adequacy of Connecticut’s funding of public school education, Judge Moukawsher’s decision was noteworthy because it criticized the irrationality of Connecticut’s education system as a whole–requiring the state to develop a plan that addresses its funding model, graduation standards, teacher evaluation and compensation, and special education. In response to the Attorney General’s decision to appeal, Jeffrey Villar, Executive Director of the Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER), made the following statement:

“We believe that Judge Moukawsher’s most important observation is that the state has a non-delegable duty to provide its students with access to an adequate education. He said that the state cannot delegate its duty to local authorities and then wipe its hands of its responsibility. If local authorities aren’t getting the job done, it’s the state’s duty to intervene. We hope that takeaway stands up to scrutiny on appeal—and also motivates the legislature to push for change with urgency.

“As the Attorney General himself has observed, even though the case is being appealed, our General Assembly does not need to wait to address the very real problems that plague Connecticut’s education system. Judge Moukawsher has drawn attention to some irrational and critical issues with public education in our state. It’s high time we solve them.

“It is my sincere hope that our legislators won’t use this appeal simply as an excuse for further delay. Connecticut can’t afford to wait another ten years before it builds a system that meets the needs of its students or the promise of its constitution.”

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 About the Connecticut Council for Education Reform

The Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER)–a statewide, non-partisan, 501(c)(3) not- for-profit organization–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 advocate for state policies and local practices that research shows have the best chance of raising achievement for high-need student populations.

For more information on CCER, go to www.ctedreform.org

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE–Better Outcomes Require More Than Funding

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

 

Hartford, Connecticut – Today, September 7th, Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher ruled on an almost-11-year-old case about the constitutionality of Connecticut’s education finance system: Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding (CCJEF) v. Rell. Judge Moukawsher ruled that Connecticut’s process for allocating education funding is irrational and unconstitutional. In response to the ruling, Jeffrey Villar, Executive Director of the Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER), made the following statement:

“CCER agrees with Judge Moukawsher’s finding that Connecticut’s approach to funding public education is irrational. We have repeatedly pointed to the unclear and unjust manner of distributing education dollars through the state’s Education Cost Sharing formula. And as unjust as that formula is, Connecticut has not even been using it of late—relying instead on an ad hoc and highly politicized distribution of funds to districts. When gaps in achievement loom as large as they do in Connecticut, it’s patently unfair to underfund these school districts.

“But it is especially noteworthy that Judge Moukawsher did not merely call for additional spending, rather choosing to emphasize the various ways in which our system needs to be re-worked. I am struck by the similarities between Judge Moukawsher’s apparent outlook and CCER’s policy agenda. An offshoot of a gubernatorial commission convened to find solutions to Connecticut’s unenviable achievement gap, CCER has consistently advocated for holistic reform of the public education system, including the need to make our funding structures more transparent and equitable—but not stopping there.Read More »

The Christian Science Monitor–Connecticut students: unequal – and now unconstitutional

Since 2012, the year that Quesnel began as superintendent, East Hartford has received millions of dollars in extra funding for support services and remedial classes under two state programs aimed at turning around struggling schools.

There are encouraging signs of progress, says Jeffrey Villar, executive director of the Connecticut Council for Educational Reform, a nonprofit that has worked with East Hartford to implement one of the state programs. But he warns that the concentration of poverty in urban districts creates its own challenges that are beyond the control of school principals, such as violent neighborhoods and transient households.

‘The capacity of teachers to meet the needs of kids in their class becomes very taxed when you have a large group of students coming with great stresses in their life experience,’ says Mr. Villar, who spent more than two decades as a teacher and administrator in Connecticut

Read the full story here.

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