Powers of the SBE, Part 2: Framework for Intervention

In our last post, we discussed the State Board of Education’s authority to create a new 5-year plan for the state of Connecticut.

Another power that the Board should be using is the authority to build a system that monitors the performance of all of Connecticut’s districts and schools based on pre-determined academic indicators, identifies which schools and districts are consistently low-achieving, and requires state intervention for those schools and districts.  We call this much-needed system a “framework for intervention.” Without a framework for intervention, Connecticut has three problems to contend with. First, the State Department of Education can’t anticipate which districts and schools are the lowest-achieving and therefore can’t develop intervention plans that are tailored accordingly. Second, low-achieving schools and districts don’t know when to expect state intervention or repercussions. And third, when the state does get involved, it seems completely arbitrary because there are no clearly defined parameters as to when to intervene in a low-achieving school or district.

All of that is bad news, and other states have begun to take action. States like Massachusetts and Maryland are developing and piloting multi-tiered intervention models to determine school and district achievement and need. In contrast, Connecticut lacks a framework for intervention altogether.

But there’s good news: We can have one! We don’t even need to change any laws.

Under existing statute, the Board can take a wide range of actions to improve student performance, and raise the achievement in a low-achieving district. Amongst many other options, the Board and Commissioner can:

  • Provide incentives to attract educators;
  • Require additional training for educators and/or parents of children;
  • Require implementation of a model curriculum; and
  • Identify schools that should be reconstructed as charter schools.

When the Board develops Connecticut’s framework for intervention, districts and schools will be able to measure their performances against articulated metrics. They will know what improvements are needed to avoid state involvement, the degree of intervention to expect if they do not improve, and what resources they will receive if the state intervenes.   At the other end of the spectrum, a framework for intervention would also be able to outline degrees of autonomy that high-achieving schools and districts could earn and use to propel even further innovation and improvement!  The framework would both assist low-performing schools and enhance high-performing schools.

Now that’s the type of change we think Connecticut needs.