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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


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE–Better Outcomes Require More Than Funding

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


Hartford, Connecticut – Today, September 7th, Superior Court Judge Thomas Moukawsher ruled on an almost-11-year-old case about the constitutionality of Connecticut’s education finance system: Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding (CCJEF) v. Rell. Judge Moukawsher ruled that Connecticut’s process for allocating education funding is irrational and unconstitutional. In response to the ruling, Jeffrey Villar, Executive Director of the Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER), made the following statement:

“CCER agrees with Judge Moukawsher’s finding that Connecticut’s approach to funding public education is irrational. We have repeatedly pointed to the unclear and unjust manner of distributing education dollars through the state’s Education Cost Sharing formula. And as unjust as that formula is, Connecticut has not even been using it of late—relying instead on an ad hoc and highly politicized distribution of funds to districts. When gaps in achievement loom as large as they do in Connecticut, it’s patently unfair to underfund these school districts.

“But it is especially noteworthy that Judge Moukawsher did not merely call for additional spending, rather choosing to emphasize the various ways in which our system needs to be re-worked. I am struck by the similarities between Judge Moukawsher’s apparent outlook and CCER’s policy agenda. An offshoot of a gubernatorial commission convened to find solutions to Connecticut’s unenviable achievement gap, CCER has consistently advocated for holistic reform of the public education system, including the need to make our funding structures more transparent and equitable—but not stopping there.Read More »

How Common Core Changes the Classroom

The Common Core might be more complex than you think. As we’ve discussed in a previous blog, the Common Core resulted from a well-documented awareness that America’s academic performance was lagging behind the performance of other countries. When we look at our students’ results on international assessments and at their struggle to succeed in the global economy, it’s apparent that we need to raise the bar in K-12 academics. The Common Core State Standards were developed to set rigorous, sequential academic goals that have coherence from grade-to-grade, comparability from state-to-state, and that outline what our students need to be learning in every grade so that they can expect to succeed in college and future careers.

You might have heard all of that before. But did you know that the Common Core is not just about setting academic milestones for each grade-level in math and English Language Arts (ELA)? There are also standards for literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects. In addition, there are six instructional shifts (3 for ELA and 3 for Math) that tell teachers how to align classroom instruction with these more rigorous standards, and there are eight standards of mathematical practice that set expectations for the style and activities that K-12 math teachers should provide in every lesson of every grade.

To be clear, none of these features of the Common Core tell teachers how to teach or what materials to use. Instead, the standards simply set expectations for the types of academic goals and pedagogical styles that research has shown will help our students become critical and analytical consumers of information.

Click on these buttons to learn, in greater detail, about the complexities of Common Core:

8 Practices ELA Shifts Math Shifts



The Common Core Misinformation Campaign


By: Jeffrey Villar

As a parent, former superintendent, professional educator for the past two decades, and a Connecticut citizen–I am alarmed by the misinformation campaign that has been perpetuated about Common Core in our state.
It’s obvious that our academic standards have been too low for too long. One third of low-income students fail to graduate high school in four years. Of those students who do graduate, 66% are not college- or career-ready. One in five freshmen in college needs to take remediation courses before being allowed to enroll in regular college courses. If we want the system to improve, it’s time to shake things up–now. There’s no time for delay.
Below, is a comparison of some myths and facts about the Common Core. We’ve provided you with sourcing to set the record straight. You can also find a link to my written testimony before the education committee about the process of Common Core’s adoption in 2010 and the need to proceed with timely implementation today. 

Myth #1: The Connecticut State Department of Education is solely responsible for implementing the Common Core.

Fact: The State Department of Education and local school districts are responsible for distinct aspects of implementing the Common Core. The State Department of Education is responsible for setting the standards and providing districts with technical assistance and training on those standards. Public school districts are responsible for writing and implementing their own curriculum aligned to those standards for each grade level. Connecticut is a “local control” state, which grants to local and regional boards of education the authority to set curriculum standards and the instructional programs in their schools. The standards, adopted in 2010, will provide direction to local curriculum committees as they develop grade-by-grade and course level curriculum.

 Myth #2: Common Core is an unfunded and unnecessary mandate.

Fact: Establishing state standards for education is not a new idea; Connecticut has had standards for a long time, and they have been revised regularly. (See a 2002 example here.) This is because standards need to be revised and updated over time, rather than remaining stagnant.

 However, while state standards set expectations for what knowledge and skills will help our students succeed, educators still decide how these standards are to be met. School administrators are responsible for keeping school curriculums up-to-date in a timely manner. (Regs. Conn. State Board of Education §10-145d-400b(b)(13)). Because this is something that should already have been happening in our schools, it isn’t fair to say the costs associated with updating curriculums is an “extra” cost caused by the Common Core.

 It is true that Common Core and Smarter Balanced (SBAC) assessments will require some schools to add additional technology to their buildings. However, schools should already be making the types of technology and infrastructure upgrades that are required in order to engage students in 21st century learning.Read More »

Our Report Reveals There’s Much Work Left to Do!

The release of our 2013 Policy Progress Report this week highlights the fact that much progress has been made to advance and implement state-level education reforms. However, even after passing a landmark education reform bill in 2012 and defending funding for these impressive reform packages in 2013, it’s clear that there’s still tons of work left to do.

So what’s new in this report? This year, we’ve introduced a rubric that will help us to hold all Connecticut stakeholders accountable for making the changes we need to narrow our widest-in-the-nation achievement gap. The rubric outlines a 10-year plan, and in just the first two years, Connecticut has already earned 31% of the available points.Read More »

Hartford Courant: Reform Group Says State Has Much Left to Do to Improve Education



A school reform group is giving the state high marks for adding new leadership to public education, adopting more rigorous academic standards and tying teacher tenure to teacher effectiveness.

But in a report to be released Tuesday morning in New Haven, the Connecticut Council for Education Reform says the state must go further and tie teachers’ compensation to their performance evaluation, raise the number of children in pre-kindergarten programs and ensure that more low-achieving students get remedial help.

“This is a ten-year journey, it’s not going to happen overnight,” said Ramani Ayer, vice chairman of the council and the former CEO and chairman of The Hartford Financial Services Group Inc.Read More »

What the NCTQ Teacher Prep Results Mean for CT


Having an effective teacher is the most important factor in student achievement, but there seems to be little consistency in how we train teachers, according to a new study by National Center on Teacher Quality (NCTQ).  The NCTQ Teacher Prep Review came out recently, rating teacher prep programs from 1,130 academic institutions across the nation.

The institutions were rated on different categories such as how selective they were in admissions, the effectiveness of their student teaching programs, the strength of their curriculum and classroom management programs, and whether the institution tracked the effectiveness of their graduating teachers. Overall, the report’s findings are dismal.  Less than 10% of all programs earned three or more stars on the four-star rating scale.  Only one institution in the entire country earned more than three stars for both an elementary and secondary program (Ohio State University).

The programs rated by the report produce 99% of traditionally trained new teachers, which means what they teach effects many of our nation’s most vulnerable youth. The average first year teacher tends to be assigned to students who are already behind grade level.  Too often these children are low-income and students of color.

Where Do Connecticut’s Teacher Prep Programs Stand?

Connecticut’s ratings wavered between mediocre and terrible.  While none of Connecticut’s 29 rated programs received a “Consumer Warning” for earning less than one star, only the graduate secondary program at Southern Connecticut State University received 3 out of 4 stars, placing them on the Teacher Prep Review’s Honor Roll.  We may not be the worst in the nation, but we are far from being the best. Here’s how Connecticut stacked up nationally:Read More »

Connecticut’s Big 6: “Protect Progress on Statewide Educator Evaluation System”


“We must move forward with the statewide educator evaluation system, which supports and develops teachers and principals, and holds educators accountable for their performance.”

The education reform bill passed by the state legislature with overwhelming support last year, and signed into law by the Governor, raises standards for educators by implementing a teacher and principal evaluation and support program.

The Appropriations Committee budget cuts put this essential program at risk.

We urge legislators to restore the $10 million for Talent Development, proposed by Governor Malloy’s budget.

This program is a significant improvement over existing evaluation programs in its potential to provide essential feedback and support to high-performing teachers and principals, make certain that teachers in need of improvement receive the help they need, and allow for swift dismissal of those who consistently fail to improve. Program pilots are underway currently in 10 sites. Upon review of these efforts, the State Board of Education (SBE) approved this program for statewide implementation. The remaining districts have developed plans for evaluation systems similarly informed by effectiveness. The SBE will review these plans for approval this month.

Why is this so important? Research is clear on the long-term positive impacts of effective teachers for kids, as well as theRead More »

A Closer Examination of the State’s New Teacher Evaluation Program

This week, in light of a recent column criticizing the state’s new teacher evaluation program, we thought we’d take a moment to decipher some of the jargon surrounding this important reform.Read More »

2013 Joint Statement from CAPSS, CAS, CABE, CBIA, CCER, CONNCAN



Every student in Connecticut, regardless of their zip code, deserves a world-class education. That is the clear message and ongoing commitment of a partnership formed by our organizations, which represent six of the state’s leading education and business groups.[1] In 2012, we worked together to support a landmark package of education reforms in Public Act 12-116. Although our groups represent different stakeholders and perspectives, including school boards, superintendents, principals, advocates, and the business and civic community, we continue to be united in a desire to see systemic change come to our state’s public schools. We believe that passing this legislation was an important first step, but now the hard work begins. A shared commitment and resources to support implementation will be essential in determining whether these changes bring about true transformation or simply more of the status quo.Read More »