HARTFORD, CT – The executive director of the Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER), Rae Ann Knopf, testified today in front of the Legislature’s Education Committee in support of Senate Bill 24, “An Act Concerning Educational Competitiveness.”

Knopf expressed CCER’s strong support for the comprehensive reform bill introduced by Governor Malloy. She cited the various task forces and commissions as having served to establish the necessary research, engagement and recommendations for providing the legislature and the Governor a strong platform from which to act in catalyzing education reform in Connecticut.

In particular, Knopf emphasized the need to follow through on proposed changes to what she calls the fundamental drivers of public schools – developing great teachers and education leaders, holding high expectations of achievement for every student, and using education funding in ways that put student needs ahead of adult preferences – all necessary if we intend to support a more advanced approach to education where all children can learn and grow.

“I urge you to not be distracted by the emotion of the moment and to focus on the facts – we know teachers have the single greatest impact on student learning and achievement, and we know the quality of the principal as a leader is the number one determinant in ensuring schools are staffed with effective teachers, and we know 41% of our young people are in schools where this does not happen consistently,” said Knopf. “To change expectations for student learning, we must also change the ways in which we develop teachers and principals who can meet these expectations. Doing anything short of this leaves teachers and principals unprepared for the challenges they face with a student body whose needs grow increasingly diverse.”

Knopf’s testimony also included the following:

  • Strong support for a statewide performance management and support plan that calls for developing a differentiated intervention framework to identify districts in need of improvement and classify schools into five performance categories, based on criteria which includes measures of and growth in student achievement. This includes the plan to provide our low-achieving districts and schools with increased supervision and direction by the State Board of Education and providing the Commissioner of Education with the authority to reconstitute a local and regional board of education that has failed to sufficiently improve student achievement.
  • Support for providing the Commissioner of Education with the responsibility, authority and funding to annually designate category four and five schools as Commissioner’s Network Schools and require local Boards of Education to select a turnaround model for the school or enter into a turnaround agreement with the Department of Education.
  • Support for establishing specific operating and working conditions and criteria to identify and hire exemplary teachers and administrators, while providing financial incentives and enhanced career ladder and career advancement opportunities in Commissioner’s Network Schools, our most effective teachers and administrators will be motivated to work in and support the turnaround process in our lowest-achieving schools.
  • Strong support for high-achieving magnet and charter schools and the role they play in both providing their students with high-quality education and serving as a catalyst for local reform initiatives. This includes support for increasing the state’s funding for magnet and charter school students and requiring the district in which a student who attends a state charter school resides in, to contribute a thousand dollars to the charter school.
  • Support for transferring charter funding to the Education Cost Sharing section of statutes, without affecting ECS funding for districts, as an important step towards the development of a new funding formula that will apply to all public schools, including charters and magnets.
  • Strong support for the Governor’s efforts to increase accountability for education funding in Connecticut and his proposal to establish a standard chart of accounts to be implemented in all districts. Particularly in light of the proposed increase in foundational funding, a statewide standard chart of accounts is needed to improve the transparency and public accountability for state education dollars and to ensure that current and additional education dollars are spent on effective initiatives and programs.

Contact: Robert Townes
Communications Manager
Connecticut Council for Education Reform
195 Church Street, 7th Floor New Haven, CT 06510