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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.


May 092012

At the beginning of this year the BoE established a new sub-committee known as the Negotiation and Personnel Committee.  Previously known as the Negotiation Committee, its charter was to only handle the non-FOIA-able issues associated with contracts during scheduled negotiation periods with the various collective bargaining units.  Now, with the addition of the personnel component, the subcommittee deals with a host of personnel-related issues,  which are FOIA-able and open to the public.

At the top of the list, is NPS’s  current evaluation process specifically for the superintendent, teachers and administrators.   This process is now front and center given the passage of  Governor Malloy’s  Education Reform bill SB  458 by state legislators this week.

Earlier this year, the State Board of Education adopted the evaluation framework proposed by the Performance Education Advisory Council (PEAC) for teachers and administrators.  PEAC is a multi-stakeholder work-group that has representatives from unions, the state department, regional centers and school districts.

The CT Dept of Education is planning to begin implementation of a pilot process during the 2012-13 school year as a prelude to FULL state-wide implementation for 2013-14.   Supt. Marks  hopes to have Norwalk participate in this pilot.  The  BoE votes next week.

The Negotiation and Personnel Subcommittee meetings are open to the public and as such, this website will publish the meeting minutes on a regular basis.

Below are the minutes since February, as well as state documents discussed and handed out that pertain to the PEAC work group’s Teachers and Administration Evaluation Process and Pilot Invitation.


MINUTES FEB 15 2012 Negotiation Personnel




State of CT Board of Ed PEAC Teacher Administrator Evaluation

Evalaution PPT 31012 (2)

PEAC Invitation Letter

May 092012

This week, Connecticut legislators in both the Senate and House  voted in favor of  Governor Dannel Malloy’s wide-ranging education reform bill SB 458 (formerly SB 24.)  Mired in controversy from the start and perhaps a bit  ambitious given the laundry list of reforms, a compromise was finally reached.

REd APPLES  leadership provided testimony in support of the bill last February and have strongly advocated with local state representatives to support the bill   SB 24 Op-Ed  as Norwalk stands to benefit from a better evaluation process and improvements in reading instruction.

Below is ConnCAn’s high level summary of the strengths and weaknesses of the compromise bill.

High Level Summary of SB 458 (formerly SB 24)

5/8/12, 2:30 pm

SB 458, An Act for Educational Reform, is close to the original bill proposed by Governor Malloy on February 8 and presents a significant step forward for systemic, comprehensive reform. This brief summary presents strengths, weaknesses and items to keep an eye on. A more detailed ConnCAN analysis of the bill is forthcoming.

Strengths of SB 458

  • Reading by Grade 3: Establishes a pilot program to enhance literacy instruction in grades k-3.
  • School Turnarounds: Creates a Commissioner’s Network to intervene in up to 25 of lowest performing schools over the next 3 years.   High-performing non-profit partners (such as charter school operators) can run up to six of the 25 schools.  The Commissioner will have the ability to conduct impact bargaining, opening current collective bargaining agreements.
  • State-Authorized Charter Schools: Increases per pupil state charter funding to $10,500 in 2012-13, $11,000 in 2013-14, and $11,500 for 2014-15 (up from current $9,400).  Charter funding is now included in the state’s ECS funding statute.
  • Locally Authorized Charter Schools: Provides locally authorized charter schools with $500,000 start up grants and $3,000 per pupil in additional funding from the state.
  • Educator Quality: Requires annual educator evaluations, rating all teachers and administrators as exemplary, proficient, developing, and below standard.  Establishes a pilot of the evaluation system in 8-10 districts to build legitimacy of system as it moves to scale.
  • Teacher Tenure: Requires that teacher tenure be earned based on effective practice, with “ineffectiveness” added as a criteria for dismissal.  Also streamlines the termination process for ineffective or incompetent educators.
  • School Finance: Creates a common chart of accounts for all local or regional boards of education, regional educational service centers, charter schools, or charter management organizations.  System will be online by June 2013.
  • School Finance: Creates conditional funding for a set of Alliance Districts and Education Reform Districts.  The lowest-performing districts using the new accountability measures will only get funds if they meet certain reform conditions established by SDE.

Weaknesses of SB 458

  • Teacher Certification: No connection between educator evaluation and certification.  Continued requirement for a subject-area master’s degree for upper-level certification.  Eliminated proposed “master teacher” status in certification.
  • Educator Quality: Nothing on last in/first out layoffs (LIFO) or forced placement/bumping. Potentially insufficient incentives to recruit top teachers to highest-need schools.
  • School Finance: In Common Chart of Accounts, all entities (including charter schools) to disclose the receipt of revenue and donations of cash and real/personal property in the aggregate totaling $500 or more.

Items to Keep an Eye On

  • School Turnarounds: Could result in process- heavy requirements. Will need to make sure the commissioner has the authority he needs and that reforms don’t get bogged down.
  • Charter Schools: Gives preference to charter applications focused on English language learner (ELL) students, with two of the first four new state-approved charters requiring an ELL focus.
  • Charter Schools: Funding for state-authorized charter schools will now move from state, through locality, to the charter school.  Will need to ensure that districts pay the charter funds on time and in full.   Also need to ensure that future changes to ECS funding will not have a negative impact on state charter funding and that future efforts do not scale back the funding escalation.


To view the entire bill click here:  Education Reform Bill 458