6

Improve our lowest-performing schools by increasing authority, accountability, and time for learning.

Turnaround Schools

Total Points
Incomplete
9
Complete
8

6(a) - Transform Failing Schools Through Restructuring, Innovation, and Competition

1 out of 4 points

Connecticut receives 3 out of 4 available points for transforming failing schools.

In 2016, the Connecticut State Board of Education announced its Next Generation accountability system,1 which built upon the 2015 ESEA waiver.2 According to the waiver and legislation, the state will continue to have oversight over the thirty lowest performing districts, called the Alliance Districts.

The Commissioner’s Network, which grants the Commissioner authority over low-performing schools, continues to be one of the turnaround options for low-performing schools.3 In FY 2016-17, 21 schools are expected to participate in the Network.4

Connecticut’s Next Generation Accountability System establishes a new accountability framework that includes student growth over time, absenteeism, career readiness, higher education attendance, physical fitness and civics/art.5 The Turnaround Team in the State Department of Education monitors these interventions.6 To date, however, there are questions about the degree to which districts have been held accountable for improvement.

The accountability model also explores turnaround strategies for all of the lowest-performing schools, dividing schools by a series of indicators that include student growth over time, absenteeism, career readiness, higher education attendance, physical fitness and civics/art.7 In FY 2015-16, the CSDE identified 136 schools in the lowest performing school Categories of 4 and 58. This represents over 9% of the schools in the state9. Schools falling into these lowest performing categories will have to “redouble their efforts to dramatically improve student achievement”10 and pursue a school improvement model that must be approved by the commissioner of education.11

With respect to charters, magnets, and other innovative school models, Connecticut created several barriers in 2016: limiting the development of non-“Sheff” magnet schools until the CSDE completes a comprehensive magnet school plan,12 reducing FY 2016-17 funding for magnets by $11.9M13, and reducing FY 2016-17 funding for charters by $1.9M14.

(Note: One of the items in this rubric has been amended from its original version to reflect changes to the education landscape.15)


6(b) - Build a New Framework for Transforming Failing Schools

3 out of 4 points

Connecticut receives 3 out of 4 available points for building a framework to transform failing schools.

Connecticut’s Next Generation Accountability System includes instructional and learning environment benchmarks16 which have 12 indicators that are assigned point values computed by school into an accountability index score.17 Student growth and other achievement factors are measured as part of the index score.18

The state interventions into schools will be determined by school Accountability Index scores and which categories schools are placed based on these scores.19  The lowest performing 3 categories of schools will get the most state intervention and support from the State Board of Education.20

In FY 2015-16, the CSDE identified 50 Category 5 and 86 Category 4 low-performing schools which will be required to make and implement turnaround plans.21

Schools falling into the lowest performing categories will have to “redouble their efforts to dramatically improve student achievement”22 and pursue a school improvement model that must be approved by the commissioner of education.23

Higher performing schools in categories 1 and 2 will still be expected to improve.24 High performing schools will get CSDE- provided school performance information and data but less actual state support to implement any changes.25  Schools in categories 1, 2, and 3 were not assigned to specific categories in FY 2014-15.26

The state still requires a clear analysis of the additional wraparound services, including social and health services, that are needed to support student achievement.


6(c) - Provide New Leadership at the State Level

2 out of 5 points

Connecticut receives 2 out of 5 available points for providing the necessary leadership at the state level to turn around schools.

At the end of 2012, the Connecticut State Board of Education (CSBE) appointed leadership to a reorganized School Turnaround Office, which intervenes in the low-performing districts through the Alliance District program and the Commissioner’s network.27

In order to improve its capacity, the School Turnaround Office should be granted discretion over hiring decisions with the department, as well as the authority to create partnerships to increase capacity, innovation, and financial support.

Additionally, we recommend that the Commissioner conduct a review of the progress of the School Turnaround Office, in order to ensure that funding and turnaround plants are resulting in improved student performance. When turnaround interventions fail, schools and districts should receive useful feedback and face the potential loss of continued funding.


6(d) - Maximize Learning Time Through In-School and Extended Learning Opportunities

2 out of 4 points

Connecticut receives 2 out of 4 available points for maximizing instructional time.

The Alliance Districts, Commissioner’s Network Schools, and SIG schools receive public funding that can be used for interventions such as extended day programming, if they are components of their turnaround plans.28

But extended time is only useful if students actually attend. Under Connecticut’s Next Generation accountability system each school and district will annually collect and report on chronic absenteeism.29 Points in the accountability system will be awarded based a school or district’s ability to reduce its chronic absenteeism rate to 5% or fewer of its students.30

The Connecticut State Department of Education has provided a number of resources, research, and evidence-based strategies to improve student attendance and reduce chronic absenteeism.31 In their FY 2016-17 Alliance District plans, Alliance Districts with high chronic absenteeism rates of more than 10% had to use program funds to address this.32


Turnaround Schools Rubric

6(a) - Transform Failing Schools Through Restructuring, Innovation, and Competition - 4 points available

  • CT passes legislation that provides superintendents and principals in the lowestperforming schools with authority on staffing, scheduling, and funding by removing barriers that inhibit dramatic change.
  • The CSDE creates and implements an accountability system for transforming schools at the district/school leadership levels with clearly articulated commitments from and accountability to the School Turnaround Office.
  • Comprehensive turnaround strategies are implemented in all of the lowest-performing 5% of schools.
  • CT grants significant latitude to form charter, magnet, and other innovative schools models in partnership with external organizations with a demonstrated record of effective school improvement.

6(b) - Build a New Framework for Transforming Failing Schools - 4 points available

  • The CSDE develops and adopts a multi-tiered framework for accountability and intervention, based in part on student growth and achievement factors.
  • This framework outlines differentiated intervention authorities over districts and schools.
  • The CSDE develops a clearly defined action plan to hold schools and districts accountable for demonstrating improvement at each intervention level.
  • There is a clear analysis of the additional wraparound services, including social and health services, that are needed to support student achievement.

6(c) - Provide New Leadership at the State Level - 5 points available

  • The CSDE is restructured to include a new School Turnaround Office that reports to the Commissioner.
  • The Turnaround Office has discretion over hiring decisions within the department.
  • The Turnaround Office exercises its authority in low-performing schools and districts
  • The Turnaround Office is authorized to create public-private partnerships to increase capacity, innovation, and financial support for school transformation.
  • The Turnaround Office is re-evaluated for effectiveness every three years.

6(d) - Maximize Learning Time Through In-School and Extended Learning Opportunities - 4 points available

  • The Commissioner of Education and/or the CSBE use their existing authorities to extend the school day for the lowest-performing schools.
  • The Commissioner of Education and/or CSBE use their existing authorities to extend the school year for the lowest-performing schools.
  • CT provides fiscal support to address additional costs of extended time to each school that has provided a plan for the use of the added time.
  • CT establishes a consistent plan of action for identifying truant students and engaging with parents to achieve high levels of attendance.
= Complete     = Incomplete

Sources


  1. Connecticut State Department of Education (2015). ESEA Flexibility Renewal: Connecticut’s “Next Generation” Accountability System. Retrieved October 2016.
  2. U.S. Department of Education (2015). Connecticut ESEA Flexibility Request. Retrieved October 2016.
  3. Ibid.
  4. CSDE response to KSG inquiry on September 8, 2016.
  5. Connecticut State Department of Education (2015). ESEA Flexibility Renewal: Connecticut’s “Next Generation” Accountability System. Retrieved October 2016.\
  6. Ibid.
  7. Ibid.
  8. Connecticut State Department of Education. 2014-15 School Categories. Retrieved October 2016.
  9. This is the calculation of the 136 schools in categories 4 and 5 (Connecticut State Department of Education. 2014-15 School Categories. Retrieved October 2016) divided by the 1,445 schools and programs (Connecticut State Department of Education. EdSight. Retrieved October 2016).
  10. U.S. Department of Education (2015). Connecticut ESEA Flexibility Request, p. 105. Retrieved October 2016.
  11. U.S. Department of Education (2015). Connecticut ESEA Flexibility Request. Retrieved October 2016.
  12. P.A. 15-177, Section 1.\
  13. untitledThe FY 2016-17 Original Appropriations are from the P.A. 15-244 (the Charter School appropriation is the product of the ECS town-by-town totals less $10 million in Municipal Revenue Sharing) and the Revised Appropriations are from P.A. 16-02, MSS (Charter Schools are a separate appropriation in the revised appropriation act).
  14. Ibid.
  15. In the original 2009 report published by the Connecticut Commission on Educational Achievement and adopted by CCER, the recommendation was for this reform to be implemented in the lowest-performing 5% of elementary schools. At the time, No Child Left Behind (NCLB) had outlined intervention processes in the lowest-performing 5% of schools. However, today, Connecticut has received a waiver from NCLB, and its framework for intervention instead contemplates district-level turnaround. Accordingly, this rubric has been amended to reflect both the spirit of the original recommendation and the reality of Connecticut’s current circumstances.\
  16. Connecticut State Department of Education (2015). ESEA Flexibility Renewal: Connecticut’s “Next Generation” Accountability System. Retrieved October 2016.
  17. Ibid.
  18. Ibid.  
  19. C.G.S. Section 223e of the 2016 Supplement to the Connecticut General Statutes.
  20. Ibid.
  21. Connecticut State Department of Education. 2014-15 School Categories. Retrieved October 2016.
  22. U.S. Department of Education (2015). Connecticut ESEA Flexibility Request, p. 105. Retrieved October 2016.\
  23. U.S. Department of Education (2015). Connecticut ESEA Flexibility Request. Retrieved October 2016.
  24. Ibid.
  25. Ibid.
  26. Ibid.
  27. Connecticut State Department of Education Press Release (2012). State Board Approves Resolutions Appointing Chief Academic Officer and Chief Turnaround Officer at Department of Education. Last retrieved Dec. 2015.
  28. US Department of Education (2015). Connecticut ESEA Flexibility Request, Revised August 3, 2015. Last retrieved Dec. 2015.
  29. Connecticut State Department of Education (2015). ESEA Flexibility Renewal: Connecticut’s “Next Generation” Accountability System. Retrieved October 2016.
  30. Ibid.
  31. Connecticut State Department of Education (2016). Using Accountability Results to Guide Improvement. Retrieved October 2016.
  32. Connecticut State Department of Education (2016). 2016-17 Alliance and Priority School District Consolidated Application Guidance. Retrieved October 2016.