Senator Toni Boucher (R-Wilton) was asked to join this important announcement in recognition of her strong bipartisan leadership role as an education advocate in Connecticut for many years. Governor Dannel Malloy and United States Secretary of Education Arne Duncan made the declaration that Connecticut has received a waiver from the mandates of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) at the State Capitol on Tuesday, May 29.
"Connecticut’s recently passed education reform law crafted by the Governor, legislative leaders and Commissioner Stefan Pryor and this waiver will allow us to begin the process of fixing what’s broken in Connecticut’s public schools," said Sen. Boucher. "We will now have the flexibility to close the nation’s largest achievement gap."Governor Malloy said,"For years, while other states implemented education reform plans, Connecticut stuck to the old way of doing things and many of our students suffered for it."
"I want to commend Connecticut for demonstrating real courage that made it one of the leading states in this round of plans," Secretary Duncan said. "Connecticut’s plan to adopt college and career-ready standards, elevate and support teachers, and focus resources in order to close the achievement gap will include hundreds more schools and thousands more children who were invisible under NCLB. Connecticut’s hard work and collaboration show that state and local leaders are ready to lead the way in education reform."
The waiver, which grants states greater flexibility for implementing school reforms, comes just weeks after the state passed this year’s signature piece of legislation: Education reform.
Sen. Boucher said "This waiver will remove many inflexible federal mandates and allow the state to move forward with its educational reforms. Working with teachers and superintendents, reform groups and legislative leaders along with the Governor’s staff we were able to pass significant reforms that will positively impact the educational environment and student outcomes in our failing schools. It was one of the most rewarding and successful efforts of this session as your State Senator."
Connecticut Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor said , "This waiver application captures the education reform activities Connecticut is genuinely and vigorously in the process of pursuing. From Common Core implementation to low performing school turnaround to educator evaluation, we were able to convey Connecticut’s authentic agenda in our presentation to the federal Education Department."
The NCLB Waiver, among other things, will ensure that Connecticut:
has greater flexibility with Federal Title 1 dollars, meaning that the state can now use that money to fund programs and reform models that are right for Connecticut and gets it to the students who need it;
more accurately identifies students and schools that require intensive intervention setting in motion the restructuring and possibly even the closure of schools;
but instead, measuring actual individual student and school progress over an arc of time creates a system that more accurately reflects student achievement across all levels.
NCLB required a series of sanctions for schools that do not achieve 100 percent student proficiency on standardized assessments by 2014. Connecticut’s waiver establishes a new, more comprehensive system of measuring student academic achievement and progress across all performance bands;
adds writing and science assessments to the accountability system;
holds high schools accountable for graduation rates in addition to test scores
This system will inform schools’ eligibility for the Commissioner’s Network and Alliance Districts; which will work with schools of varying performance levels. These districts are deemed most at risk.
Connecticut’s waiver calls for the following;
implementation of the Common Core State Standards
new assessments aligned to those standards in 2014-15;
authorization of intensive interventions
supports necessary to turn around Connecticut’s lowest performing schools and districts;
a new, enhanced system of teacher and principal evaluation and support;
reduction of red tape and undue administrative burdens placed on districts
Senate Bill 458, An Act Concerning Educational Reform was signed into law by Governor Malloy on May 14, 2012.
(Sen. Boucher is ranking member of both the Education and Higher Education Committees of the General Assembly, a previous member of State Board of Education and Chair of the local board of education and recipient of numerous Education and Child advocacy awards)