CCER’s mission is to close the achievement gap while raising academic outcomes for all public school students in Connecticut. Over the past two years we’ve advocated for policies aimed at accomplishing this goal. But, along the way we have learned that many school systems need more support for the reforms to be fully effective.

CCER believes that school systems need to have high-quality, well-functioning core management systems (e.g. human capital, finance, data, operations, and governance) in place if they are going to effectively implement strategies to raise student achievement. However, overwhelmed district leaders are often left trying to raise student achievement without first being able to address the need to strategically rework their management systems.

That’s why CCER has begun to expand its work by providing district-level supports (in addition to sustaining its state-level policy efforts). We believe that in order for state-level policies to truly impact the stakeholders who matter—the students—these policies must be implemented properly at the school and district levels. Having strong core management systems is key to enabling district leaders to focus on the practices that can raise student achievement.

For example, in 2013, CCER worked directly with one district in the areas of human capital and finance. We analyzed these two critical core management systems within the district and found that they suffered from numerous problems. For instance:

  • The district lacked a strategic plan for the recruitment and hiring of teachers and administrators (resulting in the best educators being hired by other districts).
  • District leaders were not fully aware of how their financial resources were being spent, making it difficult to identify funds that could be allocated towards their most important priorities.

After a substantive review of these systems, CCER provided the district with an analysis of the necessary changes needed to improve the effectiveness of their human capital practices, and the effective usage of the district’s funding system. (We’ll tell you more about these specific projects next week.)

When core management problems like the ones listed above are pervasive in a district, dysfunction diverts time and resources from teaching and learning; there is also often a lack of accountability and a lack of informed decision-making. If we want to successfully reform the way public education works, we first need to strategically improve these systems.

CCER is excited about the work that lies ahead, and the opportunity to partner with leadership within the Alliance Districts. We believe that the achievement gap can be narrowed when the right structures and policies are in place. When we can turn policy into practice, all students in Connecticut can achieve at high levels of academic excellence.

CCER’s services are free to Connecticut’s 30 lowest-performing districts. CCER is in the process of expanding our work. If you know of a Connecticut school district that would benefit from this work, please contact Scott Sugarman, Director of Education Transformation, at scott.sugarman@ctedreform.org.