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)