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 across 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:
- Meaningful teacher evaluations;
- Increasing high quality early learning opportunities;
- Having the courage to intervene in and turnaround persistently low performing schools;
- Effective academic interventions to close learning gaps for every child in every school; and
- 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.