In a mostly deserted Legislative Office Building, an important Education Cost Sharing Task Force meeting was held in a small conference room where task force participants and spectators sat knee to knee. All strained to hear the unmagnified voices of some of the state’s smartest as they contemplated major changes to the Education Cost Sharing (ECS) grant. At almost $2 billion, the ECS grant is the state’s largest municipal grant to support the education of Connecticut’s children. The task force is considering ECS grant changes that will:
- Reduce aid for wealthy communities
- Reserve part of ECS for possible education reform projects
- Establish a set ECS grant amount, per town, for a certain period of time
As a significant change, the task force is seriously considering replacing a major component of the grant formula focused on child poverty and replacing it with a component based on student achievement. While the task force’s research showed a strong correlation between child poverty and student achievement, the task force appears ready to replace child poverty with student achievement as a major component of the formula. This metric for student achievement is called District Performance Index (DPI.) The DPI is a measurement of student achievement based on students’ reading, writing, math and science test scores. If this change is enacted, a community’s ECS grants would be significantly affected by student achievement. It is worth noting that the task force is planning a four-year ECS grant, so annual changes in student achievement should not be factored into the grant amounts for that four year period. Secretary Ben Barnes, Co-Chair of the task force, signaled the administration’s goal of aligning student achievement with ECS funding, evident in the draft changes in the ECS formula publicly discussed this week. Three separate ECS models were discussed; all of them included replacing child poverty measures with the DPI. On Monday, November 19th, town by town ECS amounts should be available here.