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The CT Candidate’s Guide to Public Education in 2018

In 2018, several organizations that care strongly about public education got together to create a non-partisan guide for gubernatorial candidates about the state of public education in Connecticut. This short document presents facts about public education today, as well as a broad vision for Connecticut’s future.

Our state’s economic vitality and moral integrity depend upon providing a high-quality experience to all public school students. That’s why it is our hope that Connecticut’s 2018 candidates will actively engage with the issues confronting public schools and discuss solutions for improvement.

WSHU: Will More Minority Teachers Close Connecticut’s Achievement Gap?

Jeffrey Villar, executive director of the non-profit Connecticut Council for Education Reform, thinks that even if 1,000 teachers of color are recruited in the state, it may be a while until that translates into better results for minority students.

Read the full story here.

CT Viewpoints (opinion) – State board should project objectivity in teacher evaluation

By Jeffrey Villar

…last year, the State Board approved yet another de-coupling with the express caveat that ‘the Board fully supports and expects the implementation of the use of state test data in the 2017-18 school year, with a further report to the Board by November 2016, and informs PEAC that the State Board of Education will not grant any additional extensions.’

That’s why it’s so disappointing that the State Board voted earlier this month to permanently prohibit using the state test when evaluating the performance of teachers. Beyond flouting its own promises, beyond damaging the balance within the never-implemented evaluation model, the State Board challenged the expectations we have slowly been building about whether our education system has a duty to our kids.

Read the full piece here.

Hartford Courant – State Board To Consider Eliminating State Test Scores From Teacher Evaluation Ratings

By Kathleen Megan

Villar said that when the original teacher evaluation model was developed in 2012, ‘there was general agreement that teacher performance needed to be linked to student outcomes. However, the model has never been fully implemented statewide because of decisions, year after year, to temporarily “de-couple” assessment results from teacher evaluations.’

Villar said the move ‘really seems to me to be more about the political pressure that our unions have placed on this issue.’

Read the full story here.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE–CCER Urges State Board to Reject PEAC Recommendation

CONTACT: Nicki Perkins
PHONE: (203) 506-5799

New Haven, Connecticut – Today, March 29, 2017, the Performance Evaluation Advisory Council (PEAC) recommended that the state mastery test not be used as a measure of goal attainment for educator evaluations. According to the PEAC recommendation to the State Board of Education, state mastery results can still be used to inform professional development, but cannot be included in an educator’s formal student learning objectives (SLOs). In response to PEAC’s recommendation, Jeffrey Villar—Executive Director of the Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER)—made the following statement:

“When the original teacher evaluation model was developed in 2012, there was general agreement that teacher performance needed to be linked to student outcomes. However, the model has never been fully implemented statewide because of decisions, year-after-year, to temporarily ‘de-couple’ assessment results from teacher evaluations. Just this past fall, a superior court judge in the CCJEF trial referred to the evaluation model—as currently implemented—as “little more than cotton candy in a rainstorm.” PEAC’s vote today fails to address these shortcomings.Read More »

CT Viewpoints (opinion): The General Assembly needs facts, not falsehoods

A recent story in the CT Mirror described a presentation to reporters a few weeks ago by the Connecticut Education Association (CEA), the largest teachers’ union, in which union leaders attempted to expose the spending practices of charter schools. The problem is that the report the CEA was referencing was deliberately misleading –seeking to villainize charter schools during a tight budget year in which education funding will be a key issue.

When a report such as the one released by the CEA utterly ignores nuance or context, it isn’t a sound foundation for an honest and reasonable conversation about how to improve the state’s education funding. Instead, take a look at these six principles for improved education funding, agreed to by a coalition of education stakeholders representing varied constituencies. In the interest of full disclosure, my organization is one of the signatories. We have been debating and analyzing and learning in great detail for more than 2 years in pursuit of real solutions.

Read the full story here.

CT Town & City: Point-Counterpoint

Point-Counterpoint on Teacher Evaluation and Compensation begins on page 20.

By now, it is generally accepted that teachers are the most important in-school lever for improving academic outcomes. Quite rightly, they are also the biggest expense in our education system. So if our aim is to maximize our financial and human resources, we must encourage excellence in teaching. That means identifying how well our teachers perform (evaluation). And it means creating incentives so that excellent teachers are encouraged to stay on and work in our highest-need neighborhoods (compensation).

These issues are too complicated to iron out in a few paragraphs. But, at the end of the day, your position on both teacher evaluation and compensation will ultimately depend on whose needs you think Connecticut’s education system should be structured around serving: teachers or students. The CCJEF trial judge made clear that he believes the ultimate beneficiary of our education system should be kids, not adults. I tend to agree.

Read the full piece here.

CTViewPoints: Innovation necessary to solve persistent certification problems

Since our traditional preparation programs haven’t been solving the longstanding problem of minority teacher recruitment, let’s give Relay a try.Since our traditional preparation programs haven’t been solving the longstanding problem of minority teacher recruitment, let’s give Relay a try.

Read the full piece here.


CONTACT: Nicki Perkins
PHONE: (203) 506-5799

New Haven, Connecticut – Today, September 15, 2016, Connecticut Attorney General George Jepson announced plans to appeal Judge Thomas Moukawsher’s decision in the decade-long trial, CCJEF v. Rell. Although the trail was about the adequacy of Connecticut’s funding of public school education, Judge Moukawsher’s decision was noteworthy because it criticized the irrationality of Connecticut’s education system as a whole–requiring the state to develop a plan that addresses its funding model, graduation standards, teacher evaluation and compensation, and special education. In response to the Attorney General’s decision to appeal, Jeffrey Villar, Executive Director of the Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER), made the following statement:

“We believe that Judge Moukawsher’s most important observation is that the state has a non-delegable duty to provide its students with access to an adequate education. He said that the state cannot delegate its duty to local authorities and then wipe its hands of its responsibility. If local authorities aren’t getting the job done, it’s the state’s duty to intervene. We hope that takeaway stands up to scrutiny on appeal—and also motivates the legislature to push for change with urgency.

“As the Attorney General himself has observed, even though the case is being appealed, our General Assembly does not need to wait to address the very real problems that plague Connecticut’s education system. Judge Moukawsher has drawn attention to some irrational and critical issues with public education in our state. It’s high time we solve them.

“It is my sincere hope that our legislators won’t use this appeal simply as an excuse for further delay. Connecticut can’t afford to wait another ten years before it builds a system that meets the needs of its students or the promise of its constitution.”


 About the Connecticut Council for Education Reform

The Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER)–a statewide, non-partisan, 501(c)(3) not- for-profit organization–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 advocate for state policies and local practices that research shows have the best chance of raising achievement for high-need student populations.

For more information on CCER, go to


CT Viewpoints (opinion): Judge correctly identified need for systemic public education overhaul.

The ink isn’t yet dry on Judge Thomas Moukawsher’s ruling in CCJEFv. Rell — originally brought in 2005 — and Connecticut must already prepare to defend its educational practices in another court –this time federal.

These decades of trials, for all of their legal distinctions, ultimately come down to the same idea: Although Connecticut has a constitutional obligation to educate its students, it’s doing a bad job for many of them.

asked only to address the constitutionality of our spending– Moukawsher has found himself requiring the state to produce a plan that also addresses standards, human resources, special education, and the relationship between state and local government.

surely undertaking that challenge is better than spending precious state funds on defending future lawsuits, or facing the economic and moral implications of producing further generations of graduates who are unprepared to succeed in life.

Read the full story here.