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Dec 202011

Below is a letter that REd Apples received from one of Norwalk’s State Representatives and Education Committee Member, Gail Lavielle, in response to Governor Malloy’s directive to the  General Assembly, the principles that he has asked Stefan Pryor, the Commissioner of Education, to use as the basis for a set of proposals to the legislature.

Take a look at the list of directives from the Governor and please feel free to direct  any correspondence or feedback to our own local Education Committee Member, Gail Lavielle  at gail.lavielle@housegop.ct.gov  regarding your views on education reform initiatives.


December 20, 2011

Priority on Education: We Must Rely on Innovative Thinking and Fiscal Discipline to Move Connecticut Ahead

Last week we learned that Connecticut had lost its third bid for education funding under the federal Race to the Top Program.  The grant, totaling $50 million, would have funded a number of initiatives in the area of early education, including rating of early childhood programs, assessment and tracking of students and learning outcomes, and improvement of teacher preparation.

Connecticut’s educational achievement gap remains the largest in the country.  Closing it depends on many factors.  Money is only one of them, and whatever is spent in this effort – grant or not — must always be spent efficiently, with rigorous oversight and accountability to our taxpayers.

Winning a grant in this Race to the Top round would not, alone, have resolved Connecticut’s early education issues, but last week’s result is nonetheless disappointing. Early education is a key area for focusing resources, because educational efforts when children are very young have the greatest impact on their overall learning experience.  Effective early education makes learning easier and more efficient later.

A quality education system is fundamental to our state’s economy and standard of living.  Without one, Connecticut can neither build a sought-after, skilled workforce nor attract and retain companies that create jobs. Additional funds or not, we must address the shortcomings of our education system, and I am pleased that education will remain a primary focus of the General Assembly in the 2012 session.

Today the governor sent to the General Assembly a list of principles that he has asked Stefan Pryor, the Commissioner of Education, to use as the basis for a set of proposals to the legislature.

As that list of principles will provide much of the context for our legislative discussion and debate, I would like to share it with you here:


·Enhance families’ access to high-quality early childhood education opportunities

·Authorize the intensive interventions and enable the supports necessary to turn around Connecticut’s lowest-performing schools and districts

·Expand the availability of high-quality school models, including traditional schools, magnets, charters, and others

· Unleash innovation by removing red tape and other barriers to success, especially in high-performing schools and districts

· Ensure that our schools are home to the very best teachers and principals – working within a fair system that values their skill and effectiveness over seniority and tenure

· Deliver more resources, targeted to districts with the greatest need – provided that they embrace key reforms that position our students for success.


Between now and the beginning of the session on February 8, I look forward, as a member of the Education Committee, to discussing these principles and issues with colleagues on both sides of the aisle and to working toward ways to make much-needed improvements to Connecticut’s education system. We will need a combination of innovative thinking and fiscal discipline to do this, and my hope is that both will be distinguishing marks of any legislation we pass.

As always, I hope that you will share with me your thoughts on these issues and others related to education, as well as any other concerns, ideas, or questions you may have.
Best regards,
Gail Lavielle
State Representative
143rd District: Wilton, Norwalk

Dec 192011

According to a December 16th article that appeared in the Connecticut Mirror, Andrea Stillman was hoping to keep the changes her panel is considering on how schools are financed a secret.  When asked for copies of the handout, committee staff said they had been directed not to provide the information to the public, press or lobbyists.  The Connecticut Mirror was able to obtain a copy from a source.

ECS Reform is incredibly relevant to Norwalk and  Red Apples has advocated and provided testimony on a number of occasions regarding the subject.

Below are the changes being considered by the ECS Task Force.

ECS Task Force Recommendations Table 12 15



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.

Dec 142011

There has been and continues to be  a lot of public discussion and debate regarding what is a fair evaluation process for principals, administrators and teachers when it comes to student performance.  REd APPLES recently obtained copies of the EVALUATION  PROCESS and the documents associated with it,  for employees of the Norwalk Public School System.   It was pretty shocking how long and cumbersome the documents are.  Perhaps it may be one of the contributing factors as to why it has become an inconsistent process here in the district.

Contrast the Norwalk Public School evaluation process with TEVAL, a new teacher evaluation and development system for New Haven teachers implemented in 2010-2011.  Then draw your own conclusions on which system is better for students or for adults.







Dec 012011

ConnCAN’s School Report Cards assign letter grades to over 1,000 Connecticut public schools and 160 school districts based on their students’ achievement in four categories:

  • Overall Student Performance
  • Student Subgroup Performance
  • Performance Improvement Year on Year
  • Achievement Gap

The report cards are designed to help Connecticut families access information about their local schools and serve as effective advocates for their children. The report cards are also designed to create transparency and awareness about how our public schools perform. Connecticut residents deserve to know how well their public schools are meeting the needs of every student.

Four schools in Norwalk made ConnCAN’s Top 10 Schools List:

  • Jefferson Elementary
  • Rowayton Elementary
  • Silvermine Elementary
  • Roton Middle School
  • Side By Side Community Charter School

Jefferson Elementary:   #1 for African American Student Performance with 67.5% At/Above Goal

Rowayton Elementary #4 for Hispanic Student Performance with 75% At/Above Goal

Silvermine  Elementary: #10 for Hispanic Student Performance with 64.1% At/Above Goal

Side by Side Community School: # 9 for Improvement with ALL Students compared to last year

Roton Middle School won 3  Top 10 Awards for

  • #1 for Overall Student Improvement in CMT Testing with an 11.7% gain
  • #5 for African American Student Performance with a 70.8% At or Above Goal
  • #8 for Performance Gains of 8.6% for ALL Students

Top 10 School Lists

To recognize elementary, middle, and high schools that have exceptional levels of achievement in key areas, ConnCAN ranks our school and district report cards by performance. We use these rankings to generate Top 10 lists for each category in the report cards; Performance Gains, Low-Income Performance, African-American Performance, Hispanic Performance, and Improvement.

  • Performance Gains: We rank order schools by the average one-year change among a cohort of students in meeting state goals across all subjects. For example, the performance of a school’s fifth graders this year would be measured against the performance of their fourth graders last year.
  • Low-Income, Hispanic, and African-American Performance: For each subgroup, we rank order schools using an average of the percentage of students in a school’s highest grade level meeting the goal level in math, reading, writing, and science (if using grade five, grade eight, or CAPT data) to determine the level of student performance.
  • Improvement: We rank order schools based on the change in percentage of students scoring at or above goal on the CMT/CAPT this year compared to last year. To calculate this percentage, we average the percentage of students scoring at or above goal in each subject area for a school’s highest tested grade level.

To see ConnCAN’s complete list of schools click here:conncan_2011_top_10_lists_final