"Best-of and worst-of lists always garner attention, so we understand why NCTQ would use that device. While its 'do not enter' consumer alerts will make the intended splash, it's hard to see how it will help strengthen teacher preparation programs or elevate the teaching profession. We need a systemic approach to improving teacher preparation programs and ensuring that every teacher is ready to teach ...While we agree with NCTQ on the need to improve teacher preparation, it would be more productive to focus on developing a consistent, systemic approach to lifting the teaching profession instead of resorting to attention-grabbing consumer alerts based on incomplete standards."
Too often, education reform discussions focus just on the hard facts. They spotlight the difficult truths of public education, where too many kids are failing to perform at goal, where too many students are dropping out of high school, and where too many children are denied access to a exemplary public education.
But if we are serious about improving our public schools, and if we are truly committed to ensuring that all kids — regardless of race, family income, or zip code — have access to great public schools, we must focus on both the truths and the hope. We must be honest about our shortcomings but forthright about the possibilities.
Last month, I had the honor and privilege of speaking at the Connecticut NAACP State Convention. In remarks focused on both the truth and hope of education reform, I talk of the social contract we have to provide all kids with a great public education. You can see most of the speech here. The first few minutes are missing, but it is still worth a watch ...
(Originally published on Yes Conn, We Can blog.)
All told, Fordham paints an interesting picture of the power of Connecticut's teachers unions and their impact on policy. When we see those states ranked ahead of Connecticut, we see that AFT and CEA enjoy a strong reputation without fully demonstrating the muscle to back it. Through a strong membership base and state law that fully embraces collective bargaining, the unions are able to enjoy a power that their involvement in politics or perceived influence warrant.Regardless of the rankings, Connecticut's teachers' unions will continue to enjoy their reputation for being a major power in Connecticut politics. And it is a reputation well deserved. But if this year has taught us anything it is that one voice alone should not and must not dominate the discussion on how to fix our schools.
To forward that discussion, today the Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now (ConnCAN) released an exciting new report – The Roadmap to Closing the Gap: 2012-2020. In the Roadmap, ConnCAN explores what is necessary to close the achievement gaps in Connecticut, the state with the largest such gaps in the nation, by the year 2020.
In this report, ConnCAN moves away from abstract percentages and depressing statistics. And instead identified - using a student-centered approach - a path for closing the gaps.
As a state, Connecticut needs to add just 2.8 points a year to its average SAT score over the next eight years to get to the magical 1,550 level. The Nutmeg State needs to graduate just 456 more students a year to hit a statewide graduation rate of 90 percent. And to move student performance from the current 65.5 percent at goal to 80 percent, we need to move just 719 kids per grade statewide to goal or better.
In each of the state’s 30 lowest-performing districts, how many kids need to get to “goal” on the state tests? How many more students in each of these districts need to graduate from high school? How many more points must we add to the average SAT score to ensure every student in each of these districts is college ready?
The answers to these questions may surprise you. Despite the enormity of our deficiencies, we can close the gaps in less than a decade.
The Roadmap breaks down the achievement challenges in each of these 30 districts (known as “Alliance Districts”), showing what those cities and towns must do to ensure that we can get 80 percent of our students performing on grade level; we can achieve a 90-percent graduation rate; and we can get our average SAT score up to 1,550.
New Haven can raise its four-year graduation rate from the current 62.5 percent to 90 percent by graduating 54 more kids a year between now and 2020. In Hartford, students can boost their average composite SAT score from a current 1,194 to the college-ready measure of 1,550 by adding 44.5 points a year. And in Bridgeport, where just 31.8 percent of students are performing on grade level, we can boost that to 80 percent by moving 82 students per grade per year to goal or above on state measures.
Yes, these are significant goals, and the seriousness of achieving them should not be underestimated. It is possible, it is doable, and it is necessary. But for it to happen, we have to act, and we have to act now.
The Roadmap is a call to action, a map to demonstrate that meaningful education reform is both possible and achievable in the next decade. This report won’t take Connecticut all the way to where public education needs to be, but it provides an important and clear starting point.
Connecticut’s path to reform has just begun. The Roadmap tells which direction to go. And it serves as a model for how other states can join in the journey.