Published by New Haven Register, October 21, 2010

The governor-appointed Connecticut Commission on Educational Achievement has released a long list of recommendations for how the state can close its lingering achievement gap.

Gov. M. Jodi Rell established the commission in March with a mission of looking at why Connecticut has one of the worst achievement gaps in the country.

The recommendations, released this week, include proposals to expand preschool for low-income students, create teacher evaluations that consider student performance and have real consequences, develop a state school turnaround office to “aggressively intervene” in the lowest achieving schools and reform how the state funds education, including having money “follow the child.”

Commission Chairman Steven J. Simmons said school reform and the implementation of any changes that come out of the commission’s report will be the job of the next governor.

Simmons said he is encouraged that both gubernatorial candidates, Republican Tom Foley and Democrat Dan Malloy, have said education reform would be a priority in their administration. He said closing the achievement gap will not be possible without strong leadership by the next governor.

“We believe the only way to catch up and close that gap is to have more time spent in learning environments,” he said. To that goal, the report recommends requiring academic remediation for students who fall behind. That could include summer school, extended-day programs, in-school tutoring or Saturday academies.