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Oct 082012

Say hello to Connecticut’s new School Performance Indicator system.

In spring 2012, the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) applied for flexibility from certain requirements of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB )of 2001.

On May 29, 2012, the CSDE received approval from the U.S. Department of Education.  The approved waiver application establishes a new accountability system for Connecticut and replaces the  annual yearly progress (AYP) under NCLB with  new CT-designed annual performance targets.  The new system also replaces the  NCLB sanctions for schools and districts with CT-determined interventions.   In simple terms, the academic bar has been raised, in exchange for Connecticut’s release from NCLB  guidelines and in anticipation of the transition that the state will experience when the new Common Core State Standards and associated testing take effect in 2014-15.

Some of the major changes between the NCLB legislation and Connecticut’s new performance indicators include:

  • Under NCLB the target was Proficient -> the new target is Goal
  • Under NCLB only math and reading counted -> the new target looks at math, reading, writing and science
  • Under NCLB the state focused on capturing progress from Basic to Proficient -> the new targets count progress between all levels
  • Under NCLB school progress was only measured by standardized test scores -> the new targets also measure high school graduation rates

As with any new state education accountability system, its complicated, but the takeaway is that the academic bar is being raised.

For more information click on the presentation  below that was presented at both the District Data Management Team and Board of Education meetings this month.

School Performance Indicators 2012 testing

For more information about Connecticut’s Accountability System, you can go on the State Department of Education website:

http://www.sde.ct.gov and Go to Quick Links and select:  Elementary and Secondary Education Act


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.


Jul 152012

Below is a copy of the email sent to Stefan Pryor, Connecticut Commissioner of Education by REd Apples shortly thereafter hearing of Supt. Marks resignation:


Commissioner Pryor,

See the announcement below.

We had a $6M budget shortfall going into the 2012-13 school year, due primarily to employee salaries and benefits.  The number grew to $10M due to retiree healthcare benefits and Special Ed. When a $4M error was found that dated as far back as 2007-8.   BoE budgets keep getting slashed, despite tax increases each year and we get short-changed in the ECS formula.  We will be laying off about 90 staff this month.

Add to that- a quarter century of status quo union leadership of both the NFT Teachers’ Union and  NASA  Administrators’ union, not to mention out of control insubordinate school principals, and you have a city out of control.

After two years, our Superintendent, Dr. Marks just wanted her life back.  This was largely due  to a combination of incompetent and insufficient staff protected by union contracts, her own 18- hour days and personal attacks from the status quo, that date back to the very day she arrived two years ago!

Norwalk will be on its 6th superintendent in a decade.


We need an interim/permanent Superintendent that  possesses the following attributes:

–          A Reformer

–          Proven executive leadership – can effectively lead a $155 million organization.

–          Willing to fire insubordinate people, crack heads and take on the unions. Norwalk is a rough place.

–          Openly embraces the City as a partner and appreciates the financial/political support the City sincerely desires to provide

We would appreciate a meeting with you or your staff anytime and will  bring members of our BoE and City Officials!

Lisa Thomson

Red Apples of Norwalk



Below is a copy of the Press Release from the Norwalk Board of Education

Norwalk Public Schools Superintendent Tenders Resignation

Norwalk, CT  (July 13, 2012) – – Norwalk Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Susan Marks submitted her resignation to Board of Education Chairman Jack Chiaramonte today citing personal reasons and following the Board of Education’s meeting on Thursday night at which the Board approved a revised budget based on additional funding appropriated by the Board of Estimate and Taxation.  The school superintendent’s contract would have expired in 2014.  Her last day will be August 17, 2012.  In the interim, Dr. Marks will work with the Board of Education on a transition plan.

In a statement, Chiaramonte thanked Dr. Marks for her leadership the past two years, highlighting her accomplishments under “challenging financial circumstances largely beyond her control”. “Student test scores have been up across the board… We were rated the school system that made the most progress of the eighteen largest school districts in Connecticut in systematic use of data and staff professional development, according to Warren Logee of the State Board of Education.”

The Norwalk Public Schools ensure that its more than 11,000 students succeed academically and achieve their full potential, preparing them for post-secondary learning and a life of meaning and purpose.  Through rigorous classroom instruction based on the Common Core Standards, high expectations, and excellence in instruction, NPS builds upon Norwalk’s diversity through a collaborative culture, partnership with parents, and commitment to individuality and growth.

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Jun 302012

This past week, Connecticut’s State Board of Education unanimously approved the adoption of teacher and administrator evaluation guidelines, now known as “Core Requirements”.  The Core Requirements, which were developed by the Performance Evaluation Advisory Council (PEAC) after almost two years of work, call for an unprecedented amount of feedback and support to be provided to teachers and school administrators and factor student performance into evaluations.

Teacher and Administrator Evaluation Process and Components

The approved Core Requirements lay the foundation for a comprehensive and standardized system for teacher and administrator evaluations based, in part, on student performance.

The teacher and administrator evaluation process will center around three annual conferences between a teacher or administrator and their evaluator: an initial goal-setting conference where the teacher or administrator meets with the evaluator to establish student learning objectives and goals, followed by a mid-year check-in to review the teacher or administrator’s progress toward their objectives and an end-of-year conference to review the teacher or administraror’s observed practice and evidence of student academic achievement, including a self-assessment.

For the first time in state history, districts must provide teachers and school administrators with professional development and growth opportunities based on their strengths and areas for improvement in relation to student learning needs, as identified through the evaluation process, and develop individualized improvement plans for teachers and administrators who receive a rating of developing or below standard.

Teachers will be evaluated on the following indicators:  

  • Student academic growth (45%)
    • Standardized test (22.5%)
    • A maximum of one standardized test and a minimum of one measure that is not a standardized test (22.5%)
  • Observation of teacher practice by administrator (40%)
  • Parent or peer feedback (10%)
  • Whole-school student learning indicator or student feedback (5%)

Administrators will be evaluated on the following indicators:

  • Student academic growth (45%)
    • Standardized test, including the School Performance Index (22.5%)
    • Two local indicators of student growth (graduation rates for high schools must be included) (22.5%)
  • Observation of administrator performance and practice (40%)
  • Stakeholder feedback (10%)
  • Teacher effectiveness outcomes (5%)

The evaluator will complete the evaluation process by rating the teacher’s performance on a 4-tiered rubric: Exemplary, Proficient, Developing and Below Standard.

Each district is responsible for defining effectiveness and ineffectiveness in relation to the indicators and ratings listed above.  A demonstration of effective practice will serve as the basis for granting teachers tenure and ineffectiveness can serve as grounds for dismissal beginning in the 2014-2015 school year.

Next Steps

The adoption of teacher and administrator evaluation guidelines marks an important step in the implementation of the landmark education reform bill (Senate Bill 458) passed in May.    Sixteen school districts have been approved to pilot the teacher and administrator evaluation Core Requirements in the upcoming school year.  Support will be provided by the State Department of Education and the Neag School of Education at the University of Connecticut will conduct an analysis of the program.  The goal of the pilot program is to work out any kinks in the Core Requirements before they are implemented statewide in the 2014-2015 school year.

CCER would like to recognize the members of PEAC and the State Board of Education for their hard work and commitment to ensuring that all students in Connecticut receive a high-quality education.  Stay tuned for updates and news as the State Board of Education, State Department of Education, and pilot districts begin to implement teacher and administrator evaluation systems based on the Core Requirements.



Tuesday, July 10th

Achievement Gap

Task Force Meeting

9:30 AM in

Room 2600 of the LOB

Wednesday, July 1th

State Board of Education Meeting

8:30 AM in

Room 1D of the LOB

Jun 122012

The Connecticut State Department of Education  presented their expectations this week regarding additional ECS (Educational Cost Sharing)  monies released to  the Alliance Districts.  The  30 lowest performing districts in the state were allocated $39.5 million of the $50 million ECS funding increase and these districts will have an opportunity to apply and compete for additional revenues directed at reform and student achievement.  These additional ECS monies can be use for things like:

  •  K-­3 Literacy Interventions
  •  Additional Learning Time
  •  Talent Development Strategy
  •  School Leader Training for State Evaluation Model
  • Early Childhood Services
  • Student Support and Wraparound Services
  • Other reforms subject to approval

Listed in alphabetical order and not in order of performance are the 30 Alliance Districts:

1. Ansonia
2. Bloomfield
3. Bridgeport
4. Bristol
5. Danbury
6. Derby
7. East Hartford
8. East Haven
9. East Windsor
10. Hamden
11. Hartford
12. Killingly
13. Manchester
14. Meriden
15. Middletown
16. Naugatuck
17. New Britain
18. New Haven
19. New London
20. Norwalk
21. Norwich
22. Putnam
23. Stamford
24. Vernon
25. Waterbury
26. West Haven
27. Winchester
28. Windham
29. Windsor
30. Windsor Locks

SDE Alliance Districts PPT

Jun 012012

On May 9th, we reported that The CT Dept of Education was planning to begin implementation of a pilot evaluation process during the 2012-13 school year as a prelude to FULL state-wide implementation for 2013-14.   Supt. Marks  hoped to have Norwalk participate in this pilot and the  BoE voted unanimously to submit the district’s application at the May 15th BoE meeting.

Norwalk was selected to participate in The Department of Education’s education evaluation pilot for both administrator’s and teachers following the  Education Department’s receipt of thirty-six applications from across the State.  Ten districts and consortia of districts  were selected to participate in the pilot, representing the State’s diverse regions and school systems.

Norwalk’s selection was based upon the following factors:

· district size
· geographical representation
· district reference groups (DRG)
· district designation as urban suburban or rural, and
· small districts working collaboratively with other small districts in a consortium.

Selected districts will engage in all aspects of implementing the educator evaluation and support  system, including the collection and sharing of data.  Section 52 of Senate Bill 458 of the
Connecticut General Statutes (CGS) authorizes the Commissioner of Education to administer the pilot educator evaluation and support system for the school year commencing July 1, 2012.

Below is the  acceptance letter from Commissioner Stefan Pryor’s Office to the Superintendent, as well as, an email that REd APPLES sent in support of  Norwalk’s application.

Malloy Press Release

Pilot Selection Letter

REd APPLES Letter Supporting PEAC Pilot

May 302012

Below is the press release from Connecticut Council For Education Reform

In another landmark moment for education reform in Connecticut, US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Governor Malloy announced that CT’s application for a waiver from requirements of the 2001 No Child Left Behind Legislation (NCLB) was approved.

Under NCLB, progress was measured against the goal of having 100% of students in high poverty schools achieve proficiency by 2014, with corrective actions and the restricted use of federal funds for schools and districts that fell short.  The NCLB waiver will replace the state’s old system with one that allows the State Department of Education (SDE) to direct resources, interventions and supports to meet the specific needs of low-achieving groups of students, in every school and district throughout the state.  The waiver also requires the SDE to focus on supporting effective instruction and leadership, as well as establishing and supporting college- and career-readiness expectations.

When asked, Secretary Duncan cited five key components that were central to Connecticut’s successful application:

  1. Meaningful teacher evaluations;
  2. Increasing high quality early learning opportunities;
  3. Having the courage to intervene in and turnaround persistently low performing schools;
  4. Effective academic interventions to close learning gaps for every child in every school; and
  5. Fiscal transparency

These five components were all addressed in Senate Bill 458 An Act Concerning Education Reform – Connecticut’s landmark education reform bill that lawmakers, educators, and advocates worked together to pass in the 2012 session and which enabled Connecticut to have one of the strongest NCLB waiver applications in the country.

Delaware, North Carolina, Louisiana, Maryland, New York, Ohio and Rhode Island were granted waivers alongside Connecticut.  A total of 19 states have been granted the flexibility to substantially reform their educational practices and accountability systems to improve achievement outcomes for all students.

To paraphrase Secretary Duncan’s opening remarks, Connecticut has finally put the needs of its students, its children, ahead of those of adults.  In doing so, we came together to change policy so that not one of our students will languish in a school that is not conducive to learning.

This is a significant and symbolic accomplishment that further lays the foundation for the transformation of Connecticut’s education system.

Secretary Duncan’s press release can be found here.

A fact sheet on Connecticut’s waiver application can be found here.

May 212012

ConnCAN recently released its 2012 Field Guide to Education in Connecticut.  The report highlights the following data:

  • Who attends Connecticut’s public schools for 2010-11
  • District Data
  • Achievement Gap Rankings
  • Trends in k-12 including: full time employees, enrollment, spending, and NAEP scores
  • Competitive Stimulus Grants
  • Standardized Assessments (CMTs and CAPT scores)
  • 2011 Success Story Schools in CT (Jefferson Elementary and Roton Middle School made the lists)
  • Graduation Rates
  • Teacher and Administration Profiles
  • Teacher Prep Stats including: Foundations in Reading Test and dismissals
  • School Finance

Click the link below to access the report.