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Department of Education

Advocates have been saying for years, that the needs of young children get lost inside Connecticut’s larger school system. 

Governor Malloy has just proposed a new Office of Early Childhood, focused exclusively on children ages zero to five years old.

Multiple state agencies have administered Connecticut’s early childhood programs, and Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman says its been hard for parents to figure out.  

"To get through the bureaucratic mess in government was terrible. Because you’d have to go from one department to the other department."

Students in three Connecticut school districts will start having longer school days beginning next year. Governor Dannel Malloy joined U-S Education Secretary Arne Duncan and leaders from four other states to announce the initiative in Washington DC.  He says Connecticut will use a mix of state and federal funding to help pay for an additional 300 hours of school time next year.

Connecticut’s Governor has staked a lot on reforming the state’s educational system. And a large part of the motivation is to provide a workforce literate in science, technology, engineering and math – the STEM skills. But the pace of technological change is getting quicker every year, and figuring out how to train workers for the high value industries of the 21st century is ever more challenging. This week on the business report we begin a series of reports on three industries vital to Connecticut’s future, and ask whether the state is living up to its reputation for a superior workforce.

A new way to interpret Connecticut Mastery Test scores reveals a different picture of academic improvement in the state’s schools. This measure looks at whether students are growing over time.

Vertical scales match a student from year to year, say from the first year of CMT testing in third grade to fourth grade. The system compares how that student performs one year to the next despite the more advanced material.

Diane Orson

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan was in Connecticut Tuesday to announce that eight states, including Connecticut, will be granted waivers from the federal No Child Left Behind law.

Duncan’s first stop was New Haven where he met with educators, advocates and lawmakers to talk about school reform. Much of the discussion centered on New Haven’s teachers’ contract, which has been hailed as a model for the nation.

The legislative session just past made some major changes in the state of Connecticut. It abolished the death penalty, established Sunday alcohol sales, legalized medical marijuana and began a process of reform of the education system. But what was in it for the business community? WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.

The dust is beginning to settle on the short session that finished last week, and reflection is beginning.

“From the small business perspective I think honestly there’s not much that was achieved.”

A recent report by the US Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General finds inadequate enforcement of a federal law aimed at preventing alcohol and drug abuse on college campuses.   The review was requested by two state lawmakers on behalf of a Connecticut resident.

Connecticut education officials are finalizing the state’s waiver application for relief from the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Applications for the second round of waivers are due on Tuesday.

Legislative Priorities Outside The Capitol

Feb 21, 2012
Chion Wolf / WNPR

With the state legislative session underway - advocacy groups are talking about their “priorities.”

And in this “education session” - many of those priorities have to do with education and funding education. Today, we’ll talk policy with two consortiums...and see if some of their ideas on state government line up with yours.

Harriet Jones

Connecticut’s students are falling behind in science, technology, engineering and math. All this week WNPR is examining this problem, and its implications for our 21st century workforce. Today, Harriet Jones reports on efforts by employers to address the lack of STEM skills. 

The General Assembly reconvenes later this week for a session that looks to be jam-packed with issues. The state’s largest business organization says lawmakers will have a difficult balancing act. WNPR’s Harriet Jones reports.

Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor describes new figures on high school graduation rates in Connecticut as “unacceptable”. Students in poverty and students are color are far less likely to finish high school in four years.

Overall, nearly one in five Connecticut students fails to graduate high school in four years according to new data from the State Department of Education. But for kids who live at or below the poverty level, are Hispanic or black, in special ed or are English language learners -  it's one in three.

On Monday, Connecticut's new Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor addressed the task force charged with finding solutions to Connecticut's achievement gap - the disparity between poor and wealthy students. Connecticut's achievement gap is considered the widest in the nation. Commissioner Pryor joins us now by phone.

Bridgeport officials will conduct a national search for the city’s next school superintendent.  A state-appointed Board of Education has fired Bridgeport’s current superintendent as part of its takeover of the troubled school system.

Bridgeport’s state-appointed board of education will part ways with Superintendent John Ramos at the end of December.   An interim superintendent will come in to serve while education officials conduct a national search for the city’s next school leader. 

Hariadhi via Wikimedia Commons

Despite the high stakes attached to its multimillion-dollar statewide school testing program, new allegations of cheating show that Connecticut--like many other states--relies almost entirely on local districts to spot and report fraud.

An apparent cheating scandal at a Waterbury elementary school on the Connecticut Mastery Test came to light only after Waterbury officials alerted that state last month that something was amiss.

An investigator for the State Department of Education has begun to question teachers and staff at a Waterbury elementary school about suspected cheating on the 2011 Connecticut Mastery Tests.  This is the latest in a string of cheating scandals nationwide.

17 teachers and other employees at Hopeville School in Waterbury have been placed on leave as an investigator looks into possible test tampering.  A preliminary review showed many wrong answers on this year’s CMTS had been erased and corrected.  

A former Bridgeport Board of Education president says he and many city residents were surprised by the state’s quick takeover of the troubled school system.  

Max Medina Jr. says in 16 years serving on Bridgeport’s Board of Education he’s never seen anything quite as speedy as the recent decision by the state to intervene in the city’s schools.

A Conversation with Hartford's State Legislators

Jun 29, 2011
Chion Wolf

Hartford is at a time of transition. Recovering from corruption, transforming its education planning for the future.

Today, Where We Live teams up with The Hartford Public Library for “The Year Ahead: A Conversation with Hartford’s State Legislators.” 

We'll be talking with members of the state congressional delegation from the city. They'll share their thoughts about the state of Hartford, and what lawmakers are doing to solve some of the city’s problems - from violence, to education scores, to literacy rates.

woodleywonderworks, Flickr Creative Commons

Though education advocates are expressing frustration at an overall lack of progress during this legislative session, there’s one area where people are feeling cautiously optimistic. A bill focusing on early childhood education could help tackle the state’s stubborn achievement gap, and may better position Connecticut for future federal funding.

A new report finds noticeable academic progress in fifteen low-performing Connecticut districts where there’s been intensive intervention by the state.  Test scores in these districts show substantial improvement over time, particularly among minority students.

Bridgeport, Hartford, New Haven, New London, Waterbury and Stamford are among fifteen school districts that are part of the Connecticut Accountability for Learning Initiative or CALI.  All were identified as needing improvement under the No Child Left Behind Act.  

Closing The Gap - In The Suburbs, Too

Mar 15, 2011
Connecticut Mirror

First of three parts

    WEST HARTFORD--Xavier Rosa is stuck. The fourth-grader at Braeburn Elementary School knows that five is not a factor of 57-he got the question right on his homework assignment. And he knows that any number that ends in five is divisible by five. But his teacher, Michele Cashman, presses him to remember what the other half of the rule is, asking him how many cents he would have if he had two nickels.

    "Ten," he says.

    "So, what's in the one's place?"

    Record-setting snowfall, sub-zero temperatures and treacherous travel conditions have meant plenty of missed school days this year.  Educators are worried that lost classroom time may affect preparation for standardized tests. 

    State Department of Education spokesman Tom Murphy says he’s seen school closings, late openings and early dismissals in other years, "but this is really beyond what we’ve seen ever.  And it couldn’t happen at a worse time in our high schools, when we have our end of course exams" 

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