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Oct 012013

Last month, Norwalk ACTS released its Community Scorecard to its partnership of civic leaders and organizations that work to improve the lives of Norwalk’s children and youth.  The Scorecard was unveiled at Stepping Stones Museum for Children with the expressed intent to use it as a tool to communicate specific data, results or findings to the Norwalk community.

The Scorecard was produced by Norwalk ACTS community members, working toward the overarching  concept of collective impact.   Collective impact is defined by a diverse group, representing many different aspects of a student’s educational timeline, with ALL organizations working toward the same outcome and looking at student level data and using that data to continuously improve practices over time.

Norwalk ACTS was assisted by KnowledgeWorks, a Cincinnati, Ohio based company that developed the nationally recognized STRIVE methodology, for building a Cradle to Career civic infrastructure.  It has been adopted by school districts in 34 states.  The methodology is built on the following principles:

  • Shared Community Vision
  • Evidenced Based Decision Making
  • Collaborative Action
  • Planned Investment and Sustainability

Norwalk ACTS has identified six (6) community level outcomes that coincide with a student’s educational timeline and how data can be used to help identify success.

  1. Norwalk children are ready to enter kindergarten.
  2. Norwalk students meet the GOAL level in 3rd grade reading.
  3. Norwalk students have the necessary skills to successfully transition from 5th to 6th grade.
  4. Norwalk students have the necessary skills to successfully transition from 8th to 9th grade.
  5. Norwalk students graduate from high school in 4 years ready for college, post secondary training or full time-employment.
  6. Norwalk graduates are career-ready with a college degree or professional certificate.

Nowalk ACTS expects to release its first baseline Scorecard by the end of this calendar year.

Click the thumbnail view below to see Norwalk ACTS Scorecard.



Feb 032013

The Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) has completed the Parent Survey (feedback) portion of the new PEAC evaluation process for teachers and principals.  The new evaluation process for teachers will be comprise of:

  • Teacher Classroom Performance and Practice 40%
  • Parent  or Peer Feedback 10%
  • Student Growth and Development 45%
  • Whole School Student Learning Feedback 5%

The new evaluation process* for administrators will be comprised of:

  • Student Learning 45%
  • Leadership Practice 40%
  • Stakeholder Feedback 10%

* I don’t know why it doesn’t add up to 100%

Below are two links that connect you to a bank of questions that the CSDE  has developed and that school districts can select from.




To understand more about the parent and community component of the new process. Click on the link below.



Dec 122012

The PTOC is pleased to present results from the recent PTOC  budget survey completed by parents.   As Norwalk Schools enters into its school budget process, the PTOC encourages everyone to get involved. The attached file contains survey data less blank pages created in file conversion, and deletion of survey participant information.

Norwalk PTO Budget Survey Summary_12082012

Please join the PTOC at its December 17th meeting to hear State Representative Gail Lavielle present an update on Connecticut education including ECS, the current state budget, and other education news from Hartford. Representative Lavielle sits on the Education Committee.

Monday, December 17th, 7:00-9:00pm
Norwalk City Hall Community Room

Jul 282012

ConnCAN is a state-wide advocacy  organization located in New Haven, Connecticut that helps to provide a platform for Connecticut citizens to effectively speak up for kids.

Without the right political climate, great schools will continue to elude Connecticut’s children.  In order to close Connecticut’s gaping achievement gap, and raise academic standards, a new ethos of reform must permeate state government, the education establishment, and the wide community of citizens.

REd  APPLES is proud to be part of ConnCAN’s results-oriented advocacy campaigns that includes:

  • Research & Policy. ConnCAN’s original reports and briefs provide the in-depth analysis of public education in Connecticut that is the foundation for our policy recommendations. Our online tools, such as school report cards, which assign a letter to grade to every public school in the state, and the SmartChoices website, which provides a simple, user-friendly guide for navigating Hartford’s all-choice public school system, serve as essential resources for parents and help drive informed school choices.
  • Communications & Mobilization. ConnCAN creates informed citizens with a commitment to common sense education reform through a combination of media work, electronic communications and social networking, publications, on-the-ground community organizing, partnerships with like-minded civic and community groups and events. Then, we make it easy for Connecticut’s growing cadre of education reform advocates to take meaningful and impactful action through our e-advocacy system.
  • Advocacy for Policy Change. Grounded in our research and policy work, ConnCAN’s expert staff teams with our citizen advocates and key state officials to develop and enact concrete, meaningful education reforms through both legislative and administrative action.
Click below to view ConnCan’s efforts last year and  how REd APPLES was involved.


Feb 092012

The  statement below was read at a BOE meeting the other night and not the Norwalk BOE.  This is not from a Norwalk parent but this letter could just as easily be applied here.  Read the letter and try to figure out what town you think this parent is from.  Parents get angry because the system is so ridiculously broken–nationwide.  (The name of the town is at the bottom–don’t look, read the  letter first, see if you can guess).  A presentation and  information on what SRBI is  and how it is supposed to be working in our public schools  is attached at the bottom of this post.


My comments are intended to provide a balanced perspective – what many parents experiences feel is a spiral –  cause and effect the general ed reading curriculum for K – 3, SRBI and the resulting increase in our special education budget.

We are told that SRBI is a tiered intervention to identify struggling readers – to get our children help and reduce the need to have intensive services in special education.

I was told that Tier I of SRBI – my children’s general ed classroom has adequate instruction in teach all children to read.

I disagreed.

So I met with our Administration to find out more, to find out why SRBI failed for my children:

I was informed by the Asst. Superintendent the district does not require explicit, systematic phonics instruction in general ed.  I asked why – when phonics is the basic foundation of reading?

The Administration informed me that kids in _______ enter Kindergarten not needing phonics.  This is quite simply a frightening assumption and untrue.

The Administration told me that silent reading is valuable more valuable than teaching reading explicitly.  Research shows – that until children are fluent readers – this is waste of precious time.

There is no way to monitor all students silent reading.  My child learned to memorize the words instead of decoding for two years.  There is abundant research that shows reading aloud to an adult does improve phonics and fluency.

Struggling Readers are referred Tier II for more help. Surely the instruction methods are scientific and phonics is instructed there.  No — actually they get more of the same instruction… only more often in pull out.  Teachers have the title of instructional reading specialists in SRBI but do not have reading Masters degrees or a standard of performance to meet.

I assumed that of our District was accountable to showing the data that SRBI was effective for my children and that they were making progress.

It is of course called “SCIENTIFIC RESPONSE BASED INTERVENTION”.  I requested evidence of my son’s progress.  After two months, I found out it doesn’t exist.

I have been told my family is an unexplained anomaly. I talked to other parents and this appears to be routinely unavailable.

I asked to see samples of what progress monitoring is supposed to look like — tracking that somehow was not done for my kids.   How long are children in Tier II?

I am still waiting and either this information does not exist or is not provided to the public –  I sent my letter to all of you and received no response – I request a response again tonight.

Parents have a right to respectful, civilized treatment, that our Administration does not attack us for expecting an appropriate education.  Your press releases are an offensive, inaccurate and inflammatory profile of parents that file for due process – explain how these “marginal” and “frivolous” complaints?  What parent would spend tens of thousands in due process if there wasn’t clear evidence that our school district had failed our children?

I ask the BOE to show us a review of why families win an outplacement by mediation to remedial reading LD schools that cost the District up to $50K a year?

To get into an LD school, a child has to be at minimum two years behind and of average or above average intelligence.  So it’s not the parents or the kids who are at fault here.

If the District was accountable, parents and the district wouldn’t be engaged in monetary settlements.

It’s an easy target to throw your hands up and say that the costs of special ed and lack of state and federal funds make it inevitable that we go over budget.  And it’s true that Special Ed is a complex and confidential business.  If residents don’t know the system, they are unaware and it seems reasonable to think these costs are out of control.

This board and administration must stop blaming and look inside to the inefficient management of your general ed curriculum.

If we had systematic, explicit curriculum in the early years to teach kids to learn to read, all our kids would be reading to learn after third grade.

The result of my SRBI – my child entered second grade reading at a PreK level.  He has to work for 11 months of the year every day to have any hope of catching up.

Thank you for listening and I look forward to the seeing improvements in the curriculum in general ed, the system does not add up and our budget reflects this.

(The town is Darien)


SRBI srbi_basic_training_introduction_srbi


Jan 192012

The South Norwalk Public Library will be hosting a book signing and wine and cheese reception on Saturday, January 21st from 3-4.30 pm at 10 Washington Street, South Norwalk.

Author Peg Tyre will discuss and answer questions about her recently published book, The Good School: How Smart Parents Get Their Kids the Education They Deserve.   This book and her formerly published book, The Trouble with Boys: A Surprising Report Card on Our Sons, will also be available for purchase.

This event is being co-sponsored by the Norwalk Education Foundation, REd APPLES, Stew Leonard’s and the Norwalk Public Library System.

Registration is strongly suggested – please do not register via voicemail.

flyer – Peg Tyre Book Signing (2)

For more information or to register – call 203 899-2790 extension 2


Jan 182012

The Carver Center will be hosting its first Civic Engagement Youth Forum on Thursday, January 26, 2012, at 4:30PM at Brien McMahon High School, Norwalk, CT.

This first in a series of Youth Forums will address the issue of the Achievement Gap from the perspective of the youth themselves, perhaps the first time they have ever been asked in a serious way for their input on this pressing challenge.

Ali Reed of WTNH will serve as moderator. Ms. Reed previously reported for News 12 Connecticut and before that worked as a writer and editor for the U.S. news section of Foxnews.com. She also reported on camera for the site’s daily live news program, The Strategy Room, and was featured on Fox News Channel for her investigative reports.

Select high school students will constitute the Youth Leader Panel. Key area foundation executives, Norwalk Public School administrators, and other community and state leaders will serve as Listener Panel members. The “Listeners” will briefly offer their reactions, but more importantly, they will commit to honoring what they heard from the youth in their daily responsibilities.

The Carver Foundation of Norwalk, founded in 1938, reached nearly 5,000 individuals each year through community, educational, enrichment and recreational programs, including service learning, parent leadership, summer camp, spring and fall national college tours, and a winning basketball league. In addition to our busy community center and family support services, our free afterschool programs led by certified teachers, based within the Carver Center and Norwalk’s four middle and two high schools, reach 695 students with intense college–prep assistance.

Please join us!   Mind the Gap Forum Flyer

Adult Listening Panel confirmed: Dr. Susan Marks (Norwalk Public School Superintendent), Mike Barbis (Newly elected member of the Norwalk Board of Education),  Laura MaCargar (Youth Rights Media & The Perrin Family Foundation), Dorcas Blue (Fairfield County Community Foundation), Suzanne Brown Koroshetz (Principal at Brien McMahon High School), Dr. Lynne Moore (Principal at West Rocks Middle School), and Bruce Mellion (President Norwalk Federation of Teachers) Tentative


Novelette Peterkin, MBA

Executive Director

Carver Foundation of Norwalk, Inc.

7 Academy Street

Norwalk, CT 06850

Phone: (203) 838-4305 Ext. 103

Fax (203) 838-4197


Blog: http://carverheroes.org/


Dec 182011

Following is the Policy On Out of District Transfers according to the Norwalk Public School Board of Education Policy Book Section 5117 (a/b)

The Board of Education establishes school boundaries.

The administration of each school is responsible to ensure that students are registered in the school attendance areas.  Exceptions to attend a school other than in the school attendance areas may be granted at the discretion of the Superintendent of School for the reasons listed below.  Included in such consideration is class size and racial balance.  Exceptions are to be reviewed annually.

1.  Physical or emotional handicap

2. Childcare

3. Family removal to new home

4. Emergency and unusual education reasons (the decision may be made only after consultation with, and the approval of the Superintendent of School.

Below is a list of the Out Of District Transfers and the Schools requested:

Out of District Transfer chart 11-12 elmentary

Out of District Transfer chart 11-12 elmentar #2

Out of District Transfer chart 11-12 secondarydoc

Note: Out of District refers to Norwalk residents requesting different schools in the district and not NON-RESIDENTS.

Nov 142011

The economic implications of a poorly educated student body have long been documented and sadly, Connecticut boasts the largest achievement gap in the country.  With 9% unemployment in the state of Connecticut, the business sector has stepped up its efforts for advocacy of education reform emphasizing the need for leadership, accountability and achievement.

The Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER) represents the business and civic voices for reform aimed at closing the achievement gap in Connecticut and raising academic outcomes for all students.

CCER is a non-profit, state-wide organization created to:

  • Facilitate the implementation of the recommendations of the CT Commission on Educational Achievement;
  • Create awareness of CT’s achievement gap and how it affects students and the state’s economy;
  • Work with state leaders, lawmakers, and school districts to change policies, and take action towards true education reform;
  • Research and track the reform progress and best practices throughout the state, as well as identify areas of improvement;
  • Support innovative initiatives to build momentum and capacity for education reform efforts.

Check out their website: Connecticut Council For Education Reform

Nov 102011

Last Spring, the Superintendent conducted a School Climate Survey.  While not perfect, it was a first for the Norwalk Public School District, insofar as it categorically asked questions to all NPS staff and parents, across the district, in order to elicit stakeholder feedback to improve our schools.

The response rate included:

  • 1189 staff members (mainly teachers)  80% response rate
  • 1050 parents – 20% response rate (although response rates varied by school)
  • 90.8% of respondents identified themselves as white

The surveys were intended to  help school leaders understand what parents and staff see as the strengths and weaknesses of their school’s learning environment.

Respondents were asked their satisfaction with ten key areas: Student Learning/Progress, Staff/Student Expectations, Professional Development, Technology, Safety and Security,  School Leadership, School Atmosphere, Facilities, School Meals, and Transportation.

Another School Climate Survey will be conducted next spring and NPS staff hope to include measures that increase the response rate from parents in the community, especially the African American and Hispanic communities.

Below is a District Level Summary of the Survey.  A detailed breakdown (by individual school) of the district results can be found by clicking on the Norwalk Public School website.


Norwalk Public SchoolsSurveys11111