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Our Legislative and Administrative Priorities

In 2015, we have a list of legislative priorities and a list of administrative priorities. Our legislative priorities, which fall into six broad categories, outline statutory changes that are needed to help improve public education. Our six administrative priorities describe changes that can be made directly by the State Department of Education and State Board of Education.

To see supporting research for our 2015 priorities, you can click the links below.

Legislative Priorities

1. Defend current education reform legislation to prevent rollback and defunding.

Examples include ensuring the continued implementation of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), Connecticut’s System for Educator Evaluation and Development (SEED), and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) assessments.

2. Expand high-quality early childhood opportunities for low-income children.

a. Recommend funding for 1,000 new school readiness slots. (Learn more here.)

b. Revise statutory language so that all low-income children, no matter where they live, are eligible for high-quality early childhood programs. (Learn more here.)

c. Establish an early childhood scholarship accredited program (funded from surplus school readiness funding) to reach children not currently eligible for school readiness programs. (Learn more here.)

3. Elevate the teaching profession.

a. Attract great teachers to low-performing schools. School districts should have the flexibility to hire exceptional out-of-state teachers through means such as reciprocity. The current regulatory barriers create a time-intensive process for recertification in the state. (Learn more here.)

b. Restructure an incentive program to attract and retain exceptional teachers in low-performing schools. (Learn more here.)

c. Require the state to share teacher performance data with educator preparation programs so that these programs and the public have the data they need to improve their programs. (Learn more here.)

d. Ensure that student educators have a robust and meaningful student teaching assignment and it is at least 500 hours (14 weeks) so they are prepared to teach on day 1 in their classrooms. (Learn more here.)

4. Increase the number of high-quality school leaders through reciprocity.

a. If already certified and high performing in another state, school leaders should be afforded streamlined access to leading public schools and districts in Connecticut, without having to retake Connecticut tests or get another Connecticut certificate. This is called reciprocity. (Learn more here.)

b. Establish more Alternate Route to Certification (ARC) programs for administrators. The Office of Higher Education, in consultation with the State Board of Education, should establish an ARC administrator program by June 30, 2016. (Learn more here.)

5. Link district spending to data on teacher quality and student achievement.

The state is currently working on a dashboard for a Uniform Chart of Accounts. A component of this dashboard should be publicly reported data on teacher quality and student achievement at the state-, district-, and school-levels. Individual student and teacher data will not be disclosed. (Learn more here.)

6. Encourage districts to invest intelligently and efficiently.

The state should encourage districts to find cost efficiencies through methods such as consolidation, sharing services, and regionalization. (Learn more here.)

Administrative Priorities

1. Hire a reform-minded Commissioner of Education and a strong Chief Operating Officer, and expand the capacity of the State Department of Education.

(Learn more here.)

 

2. Make school attendance a priority by establishing attendance goals for all schools and districts.

(Learn more here.)

 

3. Make information about preschool quality available to families on the Office of Early Childhood (OEC) website, while OEC builds the Quality Rating and Improvement System.

(Learn more here.)

 

4. Elevate the teaching profession by creating a regulation that defines a cohort GPA standard of 3.0 and SAT standard of 1150 for admissions for elementary education majors.

(Learn more here.)

 

5. Urge the Commissioner of Education and State Board of Education to use the full extent of their authority to intervene in chronically low-performing schools and districts that are not making progress under the Alliance District and Commissioner’s Network programs.

 (Learn more here.)

 

6. Urge the State Department of Education to require districts applying for Alliance District funding to include in their annual plans: (i) the development of teacher induction programs; and (ii) the providing of meaningful, ongoing, embedded professional development for teachers.

(Learn more here.)

What is Student-based Budgeting?

In the past, we’ve talked about the need to overhaul how Connecticut funds its public schools. Across the country, policymakers and educators are thinking about how we can do a better job of allocating money to schools.

Under the traditional funding model, resources are distributed to schools in the form of staff and dollars that are earmarked for specific purposes. Often, this distribution is based upon formulas that allocate staffing positions based upon the number of students at each school. Although this method of distributing resources to schools was likely designed initially to be fair, it shortchanges our neediest schools and creates several problems:

  • Even though different schools have different student populations with diverse needs, this funding model assumes that a “one-size fits all” strategy will work for all kids.
  • Funding that is designated to provide additional resources to the neediest student populations goes to the district, rather than the schools that the students attend.
  • Because the formulas are based upon staffing ratios, there is often a “cliff effect” where small increases in enrollment can drastically skew staffing ratios.
  • It is more difficult to hold schools and school leaders accountable for results when they lack control over budgeting and resources.
  • This funding system is so complicated that we sometimes feel pressure to meet many other needs before the needs of students.

Student-based budgeting (sometimes called “money follows the child,” “weighted student funding,” and “fair student funding”) attempts to solve many of these problems by shifting the focus of allocation to students’ needs, rather than strict staffing ratios.

In the student-based budgeting model, districts allocate dollars to schools (rather than staff), based upon the number of Read More »

Expanded Time Spreads Through Meriden

Yesterday, we attended the launch of the TIME Collaborative at Roger Sherman Elementary School. Because we’re so excited about the promise of this program, we wanted to share our experience of visiting two other Meriden schools that are already into the process of implementing extended time in partnership with TIME.

Imagine a learning environment in which children are provided with lessons beyond those normally presented in a traditional curriculum; a place where creativity and exploration are encouraged and nurtured; a place where enrichment is provided not only for the mind, but also for the body and spirit. The good news is that you do not need to imagine such a place because it actually exists in the extended day programs at Casimir Pulaski School and John Barry School in Meriden, Connecticut.Read More »

The Common Core Misinformation Campaign

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By: Jeffrey Villar

As a parent, former superintendent, professional educator for the past two decades, and a Connecticut citizen–I am alarmed by the misinformation campaign that has been perpetuated about Common Core in our state.
It’s obvious that our academic standards have been too low for too long. One third of low-income students fail to graduate high school in four years. Of those students who do graduate, 66% are not college- or career-ready. One in five freshmen in college needs to take remediation courses before being allowed to enroll in regular college courses. If we want the system to improve, it’s time to shake things up–now. There’s no time for delay.
Below, is a comparison of some myths and facts about the Common Core. We’ve provided you with sourcing to set the record straight. You can also find a link to my written testimony before the education committee about the process of Common Core’s adoption in 2010 and the need to proceed with timely implementation today. 

Myth #1: The Connecticut State Department of Education is solely responsible for implementing the Common Core.

Fact: The State Department of Education and local school districts are responsible for distinct aspects of implementing the Common Core. The State Department of Education is responsible for setting the standards and providing districts with technical assistance and training on those standards. Public school districts are responsible for writing and implementing their own curriculum aligned to those standards for each grade level. Connecticut is a “local control” state, which grants to local and regional boards of education the authority to set curriculum standards and the instructional programs in their schools. The standards, adopted in 2010, will provide direction to local curriculum committees as they develop grade-by-grade and course level curriculum.

 Myth #2: Common Core is an unfunded and unnecessary mandate.

Fact: Establishing state standards for education is not a new idea; Connecticut has had standards for a long time, and they have been revised regularly. (See a 2002 example here.) This is because standards need to be revised and updated over time, rather than remaining stagnant.

 However, while state standards set expectations for what knowledge and skills will help our students succeed, educators still decide how these standards are to be met. School administrators are responsible for keeping school curriculums up-to-date in a timely manner. (Regs. Conn. State Board of Education §10-145d-400b(b)(13)). Because this is something that should already have been happening in our schools, it isn’t fair to say the costs associated with updating curriculums is an “extra” cost caused by the Common Core.

 It is true that Common Core and Smarter Balanced (SBAC) assessments will require some schools to add additional technology to their buildings. However, schools should already be making the types of technology and infrastructure upgrades that are required in order to engage students in 21st century learning.Read More »

Don’t forget to Register…

… for our 2014 Best Practices Forum.

Time is running out, and we have limited spots left!

Click the images below to learn about some of the event’s highlights!

keynote

Breakout 1

Panel

Breakout 2

Click here to learn more about the Best Practices Forum (March 6, 2014) or to register!

 

 

 

Inside a Commissioner’s Network School

Lately, we’ve been looking at policy in action in each of our 6 recommendation areas. We’ve already looked at the use of longitudinal data systems to drive accountability, and a teacher’s perspective on the Common Core. Now, let’s take a look at the Commissioner’s Network Schools to learn about their turn around efforts.

This month, we visited the James J. Curiale School in Bridgeport to get a school-level look at what real turn around looks like. One of the four first Commissioner’s Network Schools, Curiale School has undergone a significant transformation in only a single year under the leadership of Principal Brett Gustafson.

Katie McLeod, a 4th grade teacher at Curiale School who served on its turnaround committee, says that before Curiale joined the Commissioner’s Network, its teachers did not have professional development opportunities and weren’t supported by the school’s administrators. Because the school didn’t have enough textbooks, teachers had to photocopy materials for their students. As a result, teachers were frustrated and morale was low. Students were frustrated too, and the school had high absentee rates for both students and teachers.

The building was also falling apart, with dilapidated ceilings and walls that were covered in graffiti. In fact, Gustafson says that when he first arrived, he struggled to convince the then-custodian that it was worth cleaning up the school’s walls at all because they might just get re-vandalized.Read More »

Our Education Policy Priorities for FY 2013

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The Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER) is a statewide non-profit 501(c)3 organization, formed in 2011, that represents business and civic leaders who support comprehensive education reform efforts to close the achievement gap and raise academic outcomes for all students. CCER believes that every child in Connecticut deserves an exceptional education, without exception. Last year’s education reform act moved the state towards our goal of eliminating the achievement gap.

Governor Malloy has proposed three bills to the General Assembly that will implement his education recommendations (see below). Each of them touches on one or more of CCER’s priorities by extending existing programs (such as Alliance Districts), restructuring state government operations and oversight (Office of Early Childhood), or establishing pilots as proof points for professionalizing teaching and leading through innovative practices that mirror our own recommendations (Unleashing Innovation in CT schools).Read More »

ConnCAN’s Survey Shows “CT Voters Overwhelmingly Support Continuing Education Reform”

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A new Global Strategy Group poll finds that Connecticut voters are not willing to sacrifice progress on education reform, even in the midst of difficult budget decisions. Read more here!

2013 Joint Statement from CAPSS, CAS, CABE, CBIA, CCER, CONNCAN

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INTRODUCTION

Every student in Connecticut, regardless of their zip code, deserves a world-class education. That is the clear message and ongoing commitment of a partnership formed by our organizations, which represent six of the state’s leading education and business groups.[1] In 2012, we worked together to support a landmark package of education reforms in Public Act 12-116. Although our groups represent different stakeholders and perspectives, including school boards, superintendents, principals, advocates, and the business and civic community, we continue to be united in a desire to see systemic change come to our state’s public schools. We believe that passing this legislation was an important first step, but now the hard work begins. A shared commitment and resources to support implementation will be essential in determining whether these changes bring about true transformation or simply more of the status quo.Read More »

Rae Ann Knopf speaks on EduTalk!

Our executive director, Rae Ann Knopf, gave a great interview on EduTalk! Give a listen!

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