The passage of Connecticut’s landmark education reform bill, Senate Bill 458 (S.B. 458), marked the starting point for the State Board of Education (SBE) and the State Department of Education (SDE) to begin the implementation phase of reform efforts in earnest. On May 17, the SBE’s monthly meeting agenda included a presentation by Commissioner Pryor on S.B. 458 and the work currently underway at the SDE to implement the bill’s provisions.

In his presentation, Commissioner Pyror summarized the provisions of S.B. 458 and their alignment with Governor Malloy’s six Principles for Education Reform. Commissioner Pryor also presented the SDE’s plan and timeline for the 30 Alliance Districts (the lowest-achieving school districts) to apply for the approximately $40 million in additional Education Cost Sharing funds.  In order to receive this conditional funding, each Alliance district will be required to submit an Education Reform Plan that focuses on differentiated supports and interventions targeted at improving student achievement, including but not limited to, extending learning time, training school leaders on new teacher evaluation models and developing literacy programs and talent strategies.  The Commissioner must approve each Alliance district’s Education Reform Plan and ensure that the funds are used accordingly. It is anticipated that the SBE will approve the guidelines and criteria for application and funding at their upcoming June meeting.

The SDE will host an information forum for Alliance districts shortly thereafter and districts will submit their final applications for approval to the SDE in mid-August. In other exciting news, the SBE approved the appointment of Diane Ullman as the SDE’s interim Chief Talent Officer.  Ms. Ullman has been the Superintendent of Schools in Simsbury since 2004 and was named Superintendent of the Year for 2012 by the CT Association of Public Schools Superintendents.  Widely recognized for her strong leadership skills, Ms. Ullman will head the SDE’s new Talent Office and work with Commissioner Pryor to develop teacher and principal evaluations, support systems and professional development policies, in addition to implementing the new Common Core State Standards.

Stay tuned for regular updates and news as the State Department of Education, State Board of Education and Connecticut’s administrators and teachers begin the critically important work of ensuring that the provisions of S.B. 458 are implemented and result in high-quality educational experiences and outcomes for every student in Connecticut.