For Immediate Release: CCER Releases 2013 Policy Progress Report

New Haven, Connecticut – The Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER), today released its 2013 Policy Progress Report, a body of work that measures how much progress the state is making on passing and implementing state-level education reforms.

The comprehensive study indicates a strong first year of implementation, but shows significantly more work lies ahead as Connecticut attempts to shrink its widest-in-the-nation achievement gap.

“We have seen great progress for the first year; but this is a ten-year journey, and the achievement gap is not going to narrow overnight,” said Ramani Ayer, vice-chairman of the Board.

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For Immediate Release: CCER Appoints New Executive Director: Jeffrey A. Villar, Superintendent of Windsor Public Schools, Will Start on October 30

New Haven, Conn — The Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER)–a statewide, non-partisan, 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that works to close the achievement gap and raise academic outcomes for all students in Connecticut–today announced that Jeffrey A. Villar has been appointed as its new Executive Director, effective October 30th. Villar, of Mansfield, CT, has a Bachelor’s in History from the Eastern Connecticut State University, a Master’s in Education, and a Doctorate of Philosophy in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Connecticut. Currently serving as the Superintendent of Windsor Public Schools, Villar has spent the last 19 years of his career in Connecticut’s public education system–first as an educator and later as an administrator. Prior to serving Windsor Public Schools, he was Superintendent of Rocky Hill Public Schools. He has also served as the Associate Superintendent for Meriden Public Schools and spent 5 years serving in Hartford Public Schools.Read More »

For Immediate Release: CMT and CAPT Results Disappointing; Highlight Need to Continue Timely Implementation of Education Reforms

An early analysis of the 2013 CMT/CAPT student achievement data performed by CCER reveals disappointing results, while highlighting the need for continued, timely implementation of education reforms.

  • Achievement rates for all 3rd graders, regardless of income, have dropped in math, reading and writing. Worse, the 3rd grade achievement gap has increased because low-income students have lost more ground than their peers.
  • 8th grade CMT scores showed similar results, although the drops were less dramatic.
  • 10th grade results were marginally less disappointing. Both low-income students and their peers made modest achievement gains in math. However, the achievement gap for 10th graders widened slightly in math and reading, predominantly because non-low-income students are making gains while scores for low-income students remained stagnant.

Improving student achievement for all children, regardless of income, is imperative for the future of  Connecticut- for both social and economic reasons. In the face of these discouraging results, the challenge for parents, students, educators, boards of education, and legislators is to stay focused on successfully implementing the state’s education reform agenda so that we can make dramatic strides in student learning.

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For Immediate Release: CCER Supports Governor and Commissioner in Seeking Flexibility for Implementation of New Standardized Tests

New Haven, Connecticut – The Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER), today released the following statement in response to the news that Governor Dannel P. Malloy and Commissioner Stefan Pryor intend to seek flexibility for implementation of new statewide standardized tests.

We support Governor Malloy and Commissioner Pryor’s decision to seek flexibility in implementing the new Common Core State Standards-aligned Smarter Balanced assessments. The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) encourage in-depth learning and mastery of rigorous subject matter, and implementing the CCSS is critical to preparing Connecticut’s students to compete in a global economy. We understand that the successful implementation of the CCSS requires the alignment of curriculum and instruction, as well as professional development for teachers and administrators. We are pleased that, for the first time ever, funding for Common Core implementation was included in the 2013-2015 biennium budget, and we expect that the State Department of Education will use this flexibility wisely to ensure that teachers, administrators and students are all well-prepared for full implementation of the Smarter Balanced assessments in 2014. It is important to give districts the opportunity to adjust to these new changes without losing sight of the education policy reforms that Connecticut has worked so hard to achieve.

 

About the Connecticut Council for Education Reform

The Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER) is a statewide, non-partisan, 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that 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 do our work primarily by advocating for state policies and state and local practices that research shows have the best chance of raising achievement for high-need student populations. We support reforms that advance best practices and innovations in education to ensure that every child has an exceptional education. Through public awareness, education, and engagement, we seek to broaden support for these efforts and affect long term sweeping change in the public education system. Our Board of Directors is comprised of prominent business and civic leaders who are deeply committed to our mission.

 

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

 

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Contact:  Nicki Perkins
Nicki.Perkins@ctedreform.org
C: 203.506.5799
O: 203.859.6615

For Immediate Release: CCER Documentary Wins Emmy

New Haven, Connecticut – The Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER) is proud to announce that “Part 3: Turnaround Schools” of the documentary series, “Great Expectations: Raising Educational Achievement”, has been awarded an Emmy Award in the category of Education/Schools Program.  The organization was honored with the prestigious award on Saturday, June 1 at the 36th annual Boston-New England Emmy Awards.Read More »

For Immediate Release: CCER Announces Resignation of Executive Director

New Haven-The Board of Directors for the Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER) announced today that executive director Rae Ann Knopf has resigned to pursue other opportunities.Read More »

For Immediate Release: Connecticut Council for Education Reform Commends Governor, Legislature for Protecting Education Reform

New Haven, Connecticut – The Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER), today released the following statement in response to the budget passed by the Connecticut General Assembly.Read More »

Connecticut Council for Education Reform Calls Budget ‘Very Disappointing’; Says it Takes Connecticut Back to Square One

New Haven, Connecticut – Rae Ann Knopf, the Connecticut Council for Education Reform’s (CCER) Executive Director, today released the following statement in response to the budget reported out by the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee.

From the perspective of education reform, this budget is very disappointing.  It takes many steps backwards on too many of the reforms that were signed into law last year.  For example, it decreases the number of Commissioner’s Network schools from 21 to 12; allocates no funding for implementing Common Core; and allocates half as much funding as needed for districts to phase in the new teacher and principal evaluation and support system. Making these changes in Connecticut schools is critical to closing gaps in learning for Connecticut’s low-income and minority students.

We understand lawmakers are facing very difficult decisions, and we get that they’re trying to do everything they can without the necessary funding.  We’re sympathetic to their plight.  But this is about priorities.

For years Connecticut made little progress on meaningful education reform.  Last year changed all of that.  Last year’s reforms are too important to walk away from, which is basically what this budget does.  Bottom line: if this budget is adopted as is, it will basically take Connecticut back to Square One.

About the Connecticut Council for Education Reform

The Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER) is a statewide, non-partisan, 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that 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 do our work primarily by advocating for state policies and state and local practices that research shows have the best chance of raising achievement for high-need student populations. We support reforms that advance best practices and innovations in education to ensure that every child has an exceptional education. Through public awareness, education, and engagement, we seek to broaden support for these efforts and affect long term sweeping change in the public education system. Our Board of Directors is comprised of prominent business and civic leaders who are deeply committed to our mission.

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

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Contact: Nicki Perkins

nicki.perkins@ctedreform.org

C: 203.506.5799

O: 203.859.6615

CT’s Big Six to state legislators: “Continue investing in last year’s education reforms”

A coalition of six of the state’s leading education and business groups – CAPSS, CAS, CABE, CBIA, CCER, CONNCAN – urge legislators not to back down from key pillars of last year’s education reform law

New Haven, CT (May 6, 2013) – In the state biennial budget released by the Connecticut General Assembly’s Joint Committee on Appropriations recently, $36.9 million was slashed from key pillars of last year’s landmark education reform law (Public Act 12-116). The cuts include funding for a new statewide educator evaluation system, Common Core implementation support, and the Commissioner’s Network school turnaround program.

This prompted the Big Six – a group composed of six education and business organizations – to urge lawmakers to protect progress made last year for Connecticut children by continuing to invest education reforms, which the General Assembly passed with overwhelming support one-year ago this week (House passed 149-0 on May 8, 2012; Senate passed 28-7 on May 8, 2012).

“Let’s be clear about what this means for kids across Connecticut,” said Rae Ann Knopf, executive director of the Connecticut Council for Education Reform. “Although every child in Connecticut could be positively affected by properly investing in last year’s education reforms, the committee’s action could mean that up to 200,000 children in the state this year won’t get the interventions they need and deserve.”

Key pillars of last year’s education reform law received significant cuts in the Appropriations Budget, which include:

  • Statewide teacher and principal evaluation and support program: Talent development, a budget line item that funds the new statewide Teacher and Principal Evaluation and Support Program, took a 73 percent cut in funds. The line item received a $13,325,000 decrease for FY2014, and another $13,325,000 for FY2015. More specifically, the statewide educator evaluation and support program took a 50 percent cut in funds. These cuts decimate a program aimed helping educators to improve their performance and ensuring they get the support and feedback they need.
  • Common Core implementation: Implementation of Common Core, a set of K-12 educational standards designed to ensure that students graduate from high school with the tools they need to succeed, is also funded through the Talent development budget line item. Within the 73 percent cut from talent development, the $8 million previously made available for Common Core implementation was zeroed out. 
  • Turning around failing schools: The Commissioner’s Network, an effort to turnaround our state’s lowest-performing schools, was slashed by more than $10,000,000 over the biennium. For FY2014, the program will receive a $1,750,000 cut, and another $8,500,000 for FY2015. This cuts in half the total number of our lowest performing schools that the Network can serve.

“Last year, Connecticut took huge steps forward on education reform that will help our students. These cuts would erase that progress and take our state backward,” said Robert Rader, executive director of the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education. “We have to ensure all students have an equal opportunity to succeed, and that starts with investing in key education reforms supported by all of our organizations.”

“As lawmakers prepare to make final decisions on this year’s biennial budget, we strongly urge state legislators to provide support for the progress made through last year’s education reform law,” continued Rader.

 

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Contact: Nicki Perkins

nicki.perkins@ctedreform.org

C: 203.506.5799

O: 203.859.6615

The Connecticut Council for Education Reform Applauds Opening of Office of Early Childhood

The Connecticut Council for Education Reform applauds Governor Malloy in taking bold action by forming the Office of Early Childhood. Clearly, he recognizes that the failings with early learning in our state are systemic in nature and he is not about to shirk his responsibility to do something about it.

The Office of Early Childhood will integrate divisions that previously addressed areas of school readiness, social services, developmental services, early childcare and early learning, separately. This bold action pulls the disparate elements of early childcare and early learning together under one roof to create a truly coordinated Office of Early Learning.

This new entity breaks down the silos that have traditionally created barriers to having a fully integrated approach to high quality early learning and care for CT’s most disadvantaged children.

“This is a fantastic example of leaders of public service, policy, philanthropy, child care, education, communities, and CT families, working together toward a common goal of doing what is right for the state’s young children,” said Rae Ann Knopf, Executive Director for the Connecticut Council for Education Reform. “In CT, it is no longer enough to collaborate on these issues. At some point, everyone needs to get on the same bus and drive it together. When more than 100,000 CT children come through our school doors behind and stay there, unable to read at grade level, you know we’ve reached that point.”