Hartford, Connecticut – Today, Jeffrey Villar, Executive Director of CCER, along with State Representative Susan Johnson, released the findings of a study conducted by the Neag School of Education at the University of Connecticut. The study, commissioned by CCER, looks at the impact of the Alliance District program and provides insights into how effective planning and monitoring of performance data can lead to improved results.
The study, Focus: How Long-term Planning Processes Can Improve State-Led Turnaround in Connecticut, begins to examine the Alliance District program by analyzing the effectiveness of the annual district improvement plans as tools for change, as well as the link between these plans and some of the positive outcomes that districts within the program have seen over time. Conducted by a research team at the Neag School of Education of the University of Connecticut, this study produces findings with important implications for how best to strengthen the Alliance District program and leverage state improvement dollars.
“The study is important because it highlights the power and potential of improvement planning as a tool for raising outcomes for students in our highest-need districts.” said Jeffrey Villar, Executive Director of CCER. “Specifically, investing in the skills and talents of employees, aligning all elements of the system towards focused outcomes, and careful implementation of research-based practices appear to be necessary components to any effective plan.”
Villar added, “The study also suggests that disruptions in leadership—both at the state-level and in our districts—can impact effective implementation and detract from improvement efforts. To me, though, it appears from the research that the state’s focus on district planning can really be a high-leverage strategy for turning around districts. With consistency in leadership and plan requirements, we can anticipate continued growth among the Alliance Districts.”
Speaking about the improvement that the Windham Public Schools has seen on the metrics that CCER explored, Representative Susan Johnson said, “I am very proud of Windham’s improvement over the past several years. I believe that the district’s improvement plan—emphasizing focus, extended classroom time, capacity-building, and data-monitoring practices—has played a big role in the progress we are making together as a community. The study by the Neag School of Education emphasizes what we have always believed: that long-term commitment to a well-thought out plan will help raise outcomes for our students. In addition, it’s important for the state to continue providing our highest-need districts with the funding they need to improve.”
Dr. Jennie Weiner, the study’s lead research from the Neag School of Education at UConn, said, “This research is important for two key reasons. First, as key documents in publicly articulating districts’ improvement agendas, the Alliance District Plans give us initial insights into how districts are thinking about and likely directing resources towards improvement. Second, these plans take time and resources for district actors to create, negotiate, and monitor. They also serve as the gateway to millions of taxpayer dollars to increase the ability of chronically under-performing and often under-resourced schools to better serve Connecticut’s students. Therefore, any information we might glean about how to make these plans and the planning process more effective is worthwhile and important.”
About the Connecticut Council for Education Reform
The Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER)–a statewide, non-partisan, 501(c)(3) not- for-profit organization–works to close the achievement gap and raise academic outcomes for all students in Connecticut. The achievement gap is the disparity in academic achievement between children from low-income families and children of color, and their peers. We advocate for state policies and local practices that research shows have the best chance of raising achievement for high-need student populations.
For more information on CCER, go to www.ctedreform.org