In the midst of the ongoing work with the Alliance District program, Commissioner’s Network Schools and the exciting addition of 1,000 new School Readiness slots, we don’t want to lose sight of the State Board of Education’s monthly meetings and the Achievement Gap, Education Cost Sharing and High School Graduation Issue Task Forces that have been charged with studying and developing recommendations on how to improve different aspects of Connecticut’s public education system. 

State Board of Education

Board’s Charge: “The general supervision and control of the educational interests of the state, which interests shall include preschool, elementary and secondary education, special education, vocational education and adult education; shall provide leadership and otherwise promote the improvement of education in the state…(and) keep informed as to the condition, progress and needs of the schools in the state; and shall develop or cause to be developed evaluation and assessment programs designed to measure objectively the adequacy and efficacy of the educational programs offered by public schools.” Chair: Allan Taylor, Partner at Day Pitney Number of Members: 14 Highlights of the July 11th Meeting:

  • The Commissioner reported on the Governor’s efforts to fill 1,000 additional Pre-K slots as called for in Senate Bill 458. Of the 1,000 slots, 750 are located in 19 of Connecticut’s priority school districts.
  • The Board approved updated guidelines for the Commissioner’s Network and Alliance Districts due to revisions in the budget implementer bill. All changes were clarifying language or changes in timelines that will not affect the outcome of either set of guidelines.
  • The Board approved an increase to the minimum passing test score from the current 137 to 146 on the TESOL certification test, effective September 2013.
  • Data and implementation details on the CT Mastery Test (CMT) and CT Academic Performance Test (CAPT) Modified Assessment System (MAS) was presented.
  • A special meeting of the Board to approve the turnaround plans for the four Commissioner’s Network schools may occur in August.

Achievement Gap Task Force

Task Force’s Charge: To develop a master plan that identifies recommendations and effective approaches to eliminating the academic achievement gaps in Connecticut, establishing annual implementation benchmarks, moving the kindergarten age requirement to October 1 and increasing access to school readiness programs. Their work will specifically include consultation with the State Department of Education, the State University system, the Interagency Council for Ending the Achievement Gap and the Education Committee of the General Assembly. Co-Chairs: Senator Toni Harp and Dr. Miguel Cardona, Principal, Hanover Elementary School Number of Members: 11 Current Status:  At the July 10th meeting, a draft of members’ individual recommendations encompassing a wide array of strategies for closing the achievement gap was presented. Next Steps:The Co-Chairs plan to take the initial recommendations and use them as the basis for the ongoing development of their master plan for how to close Connecticut’s achievement gaps and will present progress reports annually.

Education Cost Sharing (ECS) Task Force

Task Force’s Charge: To study issues related to state funding for education, including a focus on the ECS formula, taking into consideration other state grants to inter-district magnet schools, regional agricultural science and technology education centers. In addition, funding issues related to the cost of special education will also be studied. Co-Chairs: Senator Andrea Stillman and Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management Ben Barnes Number of Members: 12 Current Status:  The task force has focused much of their time on reviewing the state’s education funding formula, including the structure and data components of the formula as well as other states systems. At the June 26 meeting, members discussed initial recommendations that included increases in ECS funding, addressing funding discrepancies for magnet schools, choice programs and special education costs, performance incentives tied to student achievement, district and school accountability and transparency and greater access to early learning opportunities. Two informational public hearings have been held, with a third scheduled for July 11 in Bridgeport. Next Steps:The Co-Chairs plan to synthesize the subcommittee findings and will begin final deliberations in order to prepare a final set of recommendations by mid-fall 2012.

High School Graduation Issues Task Force

Task Force’s Charge: To examine issues that may arise from new, enhanced high school graduation requirements and mandatory courses that will begin with the class of 2020. Topics addressed include any special programming needs, waivers that will allow students to opt-out of the requirements and appropriate placements for courses under the required subject areas. Chair: Joe Cirasuolo, Executive Director of the CT Association of Public School Superintendents Number of Members: 9 Current Status: At the June 25th meeting, the discussion focused on whether a competency based and student-centered system can be aligned with high school credit and course requirements. Next Steps:  The Chair has committed to consolidating members thoughts and plans to meet monthly beginning in September in order to finalize recommendations for their January 1 deadline, when they will present their findings to the Education Committee. Stay tuned for future updates on State Board of Education meetings as they oversee the implementation of key reforms and on the progress of the task forces as they continue to develop recommendations and plans for how to address and improve specific components of Connecticut’s education system.