For Immediate Release: PRESS CONFERENCE–Superintendents, School Boards, Principals, Business and Community Leaders in support of Common Core State Standards

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
CONTACT: Nicki Perkins
EMAIL: Nicki.Perkins@ctedreform.org
PHONE: 203-506-5799
PRESS CONFERENCE: Superintendents, School Boards, Principals, Business and Community Leaders in support of Common Core State Standards
Hartford, Connecticut (March 10, 2014)  – A group of superintendents, school board leaders, principals, business and community leaders will gather at the Legislative Office Building – Room 2A at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, March 12, to express support for the Common Core State Standards.

The rigorous Common Core State Standards are clear and consistent, designed to make sure that what kids need to learn at each grade level builds on the grade level before. We believe that the Common Core will help ensure that all Connecticut students are prepared for college and careers, which, in turn, will help make sure Connecticut thrives.

Unfortunately, we are witnessing confusion and misinformation about these standards that could prevent us from reaching these goals. Two measures being considered by the General Assembly will weaken or even halt the commitment Connecticut made to its children when it adopted the Common Core Standards. We must not let this happen. 

WHO: Superintendents, school board leaders, principals, business and community leaders
WHAT: Press conference to express support for the Common Core State Standards
WHEN: Wednesday, March 12 @ 10 a.m.
WHERE: Legislative Office Building – Room 2A, Hartford, CT.

###

About Connecticut’s Big Six
Our partnership includes the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education (CABE), the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents (CAPSS), the Connecticut Association of Schools (CAS), the Connecticut Business and Industry Association (CBIA), Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now (ConnCAN), and the Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER).

For Immediate Release: CCER Executive Director to Present to MetroHartford Alliance

CCER Executive Director to Present to MetroHartford Alliance

New Haven, Connecticut – Jeffrey Villar, executive director of the Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER), will be meeting with MetroHartford Alliance today.

“The MetroHartford Alliance is the Region’s leading business and economic development organization,” said Villar. “These are critically important stakeholders in the education reform movement because, in many ways, they are the clients of the public education system. It is the job of public education to produce graduates who are college- and career-ready. But I’m sure that the members of the MetroHartford Alliance will agree with me that the existing education system has not been succeeding in that goal. That’s why we need to talk honestly about the ways in which the infrastructure of public education needs to be reshaped.

“Today, I hope to review CCER’s legislative priorities for 2014, and also to talk about why Common Core is such a pivotal piece of the puzzle. I hope to find supporters of this initiative at the MetroHartford Alliance.”

###

Read More »

For Immediate Release: CCER Supports Gov. Malloy’s Push for Early Childhood Education

New Haven, Connecticut – Jeffrey Villar, executive director of the Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER) today released the following statement in response to Governor Malloy’s State of the State address:

“We applaud Governor Malloy for his dedication to improving early childhood education in Connecticut, and we urge the Legislature to adopt his proposal. In addition to sustaining the reform efforts from 2012 and 2013, CCER’s top priority for the 2014 legislative session is to increase preschool opportunities for low-income children.”

“Simply put, we are failing about 6,500 low-income preschool-aged students who lack access to a high-quality preschool experience. Oftentimes, these low-income children start out at a disadvantage and are more likely to enter kindergarten significantly behind their more affluent peers. But education has the potential to be a great equalizer. We need to provide these low-income children with early experiences and remediation before they fall too far behind.”

“We urge all stakeholders to take seriously the Governor’s plan to codify an Office of Early Childhood (OEC) into statute. By integrating various related programs under one roof, the OEC provides an opportunity to better coordinate the services being offered in Connecticut and systematically address necessary changes.”

“In addition, CCER would encourage the legislature to provide additional high-quality preschool slots to low-income children in 2014, as well as begin building a Quality Rating and Improvement System that will monitor early childhood programming across the state to ensure that children are being provided with high-quality experiences. This morning’s budget briefing, which proposes a $14 million increase in preschool spending for FY 2015, makes clear that Gov. Malloy agrees this should be a priority. As Gov. Malloy observed in his State of the State Address, ‘education is the civil rights issue of our time,’ so we need to join together to make sure every child has access to a preschool experience.”

###

Read More »

For Immediate Release: CCER Opposes Delays in Implementation of Common Core

New Haven, Connecticut –The Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER) released the following statement today, from executive director Jeffery Villar, in response to the GOP’s calling for public hearings on the implementation of Common Core:

“Although we are always supportive of public discourse, we will oppose any delay in implementation of the Common Core State Standards. It’s important for us to have an open dialogue about the challenges and successes with implementation. This will enable us to learn from each other about how we can make these reforms truly transformative and effective. However, there is absolutely no reason to delay implementation of the Common Core.”

“The Common Core State Standards were adopted by Connecticut in 2010, so districts have had plenty of time to establish aligned curricula and instruction. At this point, all schools should already have been teaching curricula that are Common Core aligned, and all students should already have been adjusting to these new standards for several years. Any push back on implementation is both unnecessary and counter-productive.”

Read More »

For Immediate Release: CCER Recognizes that Smarter Balanced Is Unfinished; Still Pushes for Full Rollout in 2015

New Haven, Connecticut –The Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER), today released the following statement in response to Governor Malloy’s letter to the Performance Evaluation Advisory Council (PEAC), and to PEAC’s decision to separate the rollout of the Smarter Balanced Assessments and the System for Educator Evaluation and Development (SEED).

We support Gov. Malloy and PEAC in the separating of test results and teacher evaluations in the 2014-2015 school year. Since the Smarter Balanced Assessments have not yet been properly field tested, we recognize that this practical adjustment in time frame is necessary before test results can impact teacher evaluations. We agree with Governor Malloy that it is “more important that we get it right than to do it fast and all at once.”

However, CCER maintains that–after this additional year of flexibility–it is critical for Connecticut to commit itself to accurate and timely implementation of a statewide evaluation system that is based, in part, on Smarter Balanced Assessments. As developed by PEAC, SEED, is a sound and balanced system designed to provide the professional development and supports that our educators need to be evaluated and to improve.

It is imperative that the State sustains the reform efforts from 2012 and 2013 by moving forward with full, statewide implementation of the evaluation system after this added year of flexibility. That is why we urge that the Smarter Balanced Assessments be incorporated into SEED by the 2015-2016 school year.

“Transformative change is difficult,” said Jeffrey Villar, executive director of CCER and former superintendent of a district that successfully piloted the SEED model. “But it’s our job–as educators and as adult stakeholders in the public school system—to make sure that we are doing what is best for kids.”

Read More »

For Immediate Release: Connecticut Council for Education Reform Releases Its 2014 Legislative Agenda

New Haven, Connecticut – The Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER), today released its policy priorities for the 2014 legislative session. Jeffrey Villar, CCER’s executive director, said the organization’s primary priority is to protect the education reforms passed through legislation in 2012 and 2013.

“The key to a more prosperous future for our state is providing every single child with a world-class education,” Villar said. “That’s why we need to sustain the reform efforts that began in 2012, and we need to support their successful implementation. That means no de-funding. No delays.”

CCER’s four other priorities for this coming legislative session are to:

  • Provide the preschool experience to all Connecticut children from low-income families so that they get the starts they deserve–regardless of their family’s income;
  • Remove unnecessary barriers that discourage talented district leaders from working in Connecticut;
  • Ensure that education dollars are invested where they will be most effective, like funding extended learning opportunities; and
  • Jumpstart the development of a quality statewide longitudinal data system in Connecticut that allows us to track the achievement of every student from pre-K through college.

Read More »

For Immediate Release: CCER’s Executive Director, Former Superintendent of a SEED Pilot District, Comments on Neag Study

New Haven, Conn–With yesterday’s release by the Neag School of Education of its report on the pilot implementation of SEED—CCER’s executive director, Jeffrey Villar, reflected on his experience leading one of the districts that piloted the program. “I was pleased that Neag’s study shows the Connecticut System for Educator Evaluation and Development (SEED) to be making positive changes in practice amongst teachers and administrators,” said Villar. “I was the superintendent of one of the pilot districts that implemented SEED, and I saw the very same positive changes taking place in my district.”
 
The Neag report–titled “An Evaluation of the Pilot Implementation of Connecticut’s System for Educator Evaluation and Development”–is based upon data collected within the eight districts and two consortia that piloted the SEED program between September 2012 and October 2013. Hundreds of interviews and surveys were conducted amongst district and school leadership, teachers, union leaders, and representatives of Regional Educational Service Centers.

The findings show that the program has already had a measurable impact on the professional practice of educators, who are generally supportive of the model and believe it can have a positive impact over time. Indeed the majority of educators within the pilot districts reported increased time spent on evaluation activities, with valuable and reliable results. However, the study finds that teachers and leaders would still benefit from higher levels of support as this new evaluation model is rolled out.

“When we were piloting the program in my district,” Villar reported, “it was very clear that we need to be providing administrators with more time and training on how to provide actionable feedback to their teachers. Like any complex system, it has to be implemented properly if it is going to be a success. I am excited that the pilot was a success, and CCER looks forward to supporting districts as they continue to implement this program”.

Dr. Villar has spent almost two decades within Connecticut’s public education system, and he now heads up CCER, working to reform the educational system so that every child receives an exceptional education, without exception.

Read More »

For Immediate Release: CCER Expands Its Work to Support Districts in Implementing Reforms

New Haven–In an online newsletter today, the Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER) announced that it has expanded its core work to include providing school districts with supports to raise student achievement. Previously, the organization had focused primarily on advocating for state-level policies.

“Our mission is to close the achievement gap while raising academic outcomes for all public school students in Connecticut,” said Jeffrey Villar, executive director of CCER. “Since its inception, CCER has worked hard at the state-level to advocate for policies that are shown to close gaps in achievement. But we also know that we need to turn these policies into good practices within the schools and districts if we want to reach a day when every child receives a first class education.”

CCER believes that school districts need strong core management systems if they are going to boost student achievement. However, busy district leaders often lack the time necessary to rethink how management systems are working. Free support from CCER might help these leaders to tackle such systems in a strategic and district-wide fashion—ultimately for the purpose of raising student achievement.

The organization has already completed two such projects in a large, urban school district, where two core management systems (human capital and district finance) were analyzed and systemic changes were recommended. 

“We aren’t ceasing to advocate for the same policies,” cautioned Villar. “We are merely pursuing them through an additional avenue. Now, our organization will be protecting them at the state-level, while simultaneously advancing them at the district-level.”

Read More »

For Immediate Release: School and District Score Cards Show Much Work Still to Be Done

New Haven, Conn.–Today, the Connecticut State Department of Education released its annual scorecard for schools and districts in Connecticut. This is the first year this new accountability system is fully implemented, as approved by the U.S. Department of Education as part of Connecticut’s Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) waiver in 2012.

“This report is an important tool that allows parents, district and school leaders, and other stakeholders to get a “snapshot” of how Connecticut’s school and districts are performing. It allows us to see where we are doing well and where we need to continue to improve,” said Jeffrey Villar, executive director of the Connecticut Council for Education Reform.

“This year’s scorecard shows that significant gaps in achievement continue to persistent between low-income children and their more affluent peers,” said Villar, “but there are’bright spots’ in this year’s report. For example, the number of ‘focus’ schools—schools that have particularly poor performance amongst Black, Hispanic, and low-income subgroups—has decreased from 55 in 2012 to 42 schools in 2013.”

“Perhaps the most important takeaway here is that we need to be vigilant about implementing the landmark education reforms that came out of the 2012 legislative session,” Villar concluded. “They remain our best hope of getting to a day when every child in Connecticut receives a first class education.”

Read More »

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.”

Read More »