Governor Malloy: Gov. Malloy Launches "Connecticut Core Initiative"

 
{Governor Malloy Press Release Masthead}
 
 June 26, 2014
 
 
GOV. MALLOY LAUNCHES “CONNECTICUT CORE INITIATIVE”
Pledges to Provide Resources to Public Schools, and Commits to Open Dialogue with Parents, Teachers, Administrators and Students
 
 
(HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Dannel P. Malloy today announced the launch of the Connecticut Core Initiative to provide additional resources for public schools and a continued dialogue with parents, teachers, administrators, and students as districts work to implement the Common Core State Standards. The initiative is in response to the final report from the Educators’ Common Core Implementation Task Force, which lists specific recommendations for successful implementation of the Standards.
 
“I’m proud of the path that we have taken in Connecticut, one that brought together teachers, parents and administrators for one common purpose – figuring out the best way to move forward in what has been a challenging endeavor for states across the nation,” said Governor Malloy.  “The recommendations of this task force will allow us to take quick and deliberate action to improve support for teachers and ensure that Connecticut students succeed.  While the work of the task force is complete, this is by no means the end of the conversation.  The bottom line is this – we will provide additional resources to public schools and we are committed to an ongoing dialogue with everyone over the coming months.”
 
“We are grateful to the teachers who spent countless hours working on the state’s Common Core Implementation Task Force, gathering information, and developing recommendations around key areas of concern—areas identified by educators on the front lines of public education. These areas include the time, support, materials, and professional learning and training opportunities that must be made available to Connecticut educators,” said CEA President Sheila Cohen. “While the recommendations are a positive first step, we recognize that much more work is needed to successfully implement the standards in our state. It is imperative that educators are front and center in continuing to develop specific approaches and strategies to successfully implement the Connecticut Core recommendations that can make a real difference in the classroom and improve student growth and achievement. Given the Governor’s commitment to these specific goals and his promise of having future open dialogues on all aspects of the Common Core State Standards, I’m confident we can move forward together to maintain the high standards we have for all Connecticut public school students.”
 
“This report is the result of an inclusive and insightful process and represents a great start toward getting these new standards right for the sake of all Connecticut’s students. The governor rightly recognized that it would be most effective if input from all stakeholders -- parents, teachers, and administrators -- was included, and we applaud his decision to assemble such a diverse task force,” said AFT Connecticut President Melodie Peters. “We hope these recommendations serve as a foundation for an ongoing effort to identify and address challenges with the Common Core going forward. The stakes are too high to assume our work here is done.”
 
The Taskforce’s recommendations address five broad areas of focus as Connecticut school districts continue to implement the new standards:
 
  • Developing clear and consistent knowledge of the Common Core State Standards at the classroom, school, district and state level.
  • Providing the necessary support and training to effectively transition the new standards into district defined curricula.
  • Supporting all teachers and instructional staff with the necessary time for professional development to master the instructional shifts that come with the new standards.
  • Engaging all stakeholders in a dialogue about the Common Core State Standards that uses multiple mediums, is jargon-free and keeps teachers, parents and community members informed, knowledgeable and participatory in the process.
  • Providing the necessary resources, defined as money, time and technical assistance, to support effective implementation of the new standards across all state districts and schools.
 
Governor Malloy received those recommendations and, today, launched the Connecticut Core Initiative, a series of steps the state will take to implement many of the recommendations highlighted in the report.
 
 
Connecticut Core Initiative
 
Recommendation: Fund more time for teachers to receive professional development training both inside and outside of the classroom.
 
  • Action: The Governor has instructed the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) to allocate $2 million to fund at least 1,000 professional training days for teachers.  That number can be expanded should the demand merit it. All districts will be eligible to apply to receive training for Common Core coaches that will provide job-embedded, classroom focused professional development during the 2014-2015 school year. These teacher-coaches will reach tens of thousands of Connecticut teachers. The CSDE will continue to support and will expand learning opportunities for teachers by providing both job embedded and online training. The CSDE will work with schools and districts to identify schedules and staffing patterns that support common planning time for teams of teachers to learn together.
 
Recommendation: Include the crucial voices of teachers and parents in for successful implementation of the new standards.
 
  • Action: The Governor has instructed the CSDE to create a Professional Support Grant Advisory Committee.  The advisory committee will recommend finalists among teacher and parent group applicants for up to one million dollars in mini-grants to get additional Common Core aligned resources directly into classrooms and into the community.  Those new materials will, for example, strengthen classroom libraries and will directly benefit our children’s college and career-readiness both inside and outside the classroom.  The committee will be made up of participants including teachers recommended by CEA and AFT-CT, administrators, parent organization representatives, local board of education representatives, and representatives of the CSDE, Office of Early Childhood (OEC), the Board of Regents for Higher Education (BOR), and Regional Educational Service Centers (RESCs).
 
Recommendation: There is a need for additional focus on children who are English Language Learners and on children that have special needs.
 
  • Action: The Governor has directed the State Department of Education to use $2 million for professional development for K-12 classroom teachers focusing on enhancing and adjusting English, Language Arts and Mathematics instruction for all students, including students with special needs. In addition, the CSDE will add training specifically designed for teachers of English as a second language and Special Education teachers.
 
Recommendation: Provide financial support for districts as they make the necessary changes and upgrades to implement the new standards.
 
  • Action: The Governor’s capital budget for FY ’15 authorizes an additional $10 million to prioritize school technology upgrades to support transition to the new standards.
 
Recommendation: Engage all stakeholders in a rich, jargon-free dialogue to support effective implementation of the new standards across the state.
 
  • Action: The State Department of Education will provide back to school kits to superintendents and school leaders to support effective, ongoing communications with parents and the community about the changes taking place in districts related to the new standards. The CSDE will also provide webinars to principals on topics related to standards implementation at the school level, and will reach out to superintendents and district leaders to survey their needs as the implementation continues.
 

“Teachers have challenging, ever-changing jobs and must have the resources they need to do them successfully,” said Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman.  “Achieving a stronger, more effective public school system is everyone’s responsibility.  These recommendations and Connecticut’s investment are part of meeting that goal and responding to the needs of our teachers and our students.”
 
“The Department of Education is grateful for the hard work and helpful recommendations of the Governor’s Taskforce,” said Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor.  “The Taskforce members have presented us with thoughtful and practical observations and suggestions, which we will draw upon going forward.  We have already begun to respond by adjusting our plans and strengthening our supports for teachers, school leaders, and students, and we will continue to do so.  Working in partnership with educators, parents, and communities, we have the potential to prepare all of our young people for success in college, career, and life.”
 
In March, pursuant to the Governor’s Executive Order No. 41, the Educators’ Common Core Implementation Taskforce was asked to consider ways to advance the translation of Common Core State Standards into curricula; consider ways to strengthen the professional development opportunities available to classroom teachers and school leaders; and identify and highlight best practices and lessons learned by teachers, schools, and school districts across the state and nation.
 
In formulating the membership of the taskforce, the Governor received recommendations from the American Federation of Teachers; CT Education Association; CT Association of School Administrators; CT Association of Schools; CT Association of Public School Superintendents; CT Association of Boards of Education; CT Teachers of the Year Council; the CT Parent Teacher Association; legislators; and self-nominations from interested educators.
 
From March to June, the Taskforce engaged in a weekly series of meetings (ten in total) that were designed to promote investigation, discussion, analysis and an actionable plan to improve implementation.  Throughout the process, focus was kept on capturing community and educator understanding and knowledge.  The Taskforce also hosted visiting school teams, representing four local districts within the state, to share best practice implementation.  Presentations were viewed from the lens of how these successful structures could be brought to scale and to better understand implementation challenges and lessons learned moving forward. 
 
The Taskforce also sent visiting teams to three additional districts within the state with the continued goal of identifying “what was going well” and “what might be done better.”  Finally, the Taskforce reviewed implementation data collected in surveys including one administered by AFT/CEA, and one by CAPSS.  With this collection of data (both quantitative and qualitative) the Taskforce developed a series of recommendations designed to improve and enhance the implementation of the college- and career-ready standards across Connecticut.
 
In May 2009, former Governor M. Jodi Rell and former Education Commissioner Mark McQuillan signed a memorandum of agreement committing to a state-led process to lead to the development and eventual adoption of a Common Core set of standards.  In July 2010, the State Board of Education adopted the resulting college and career-ready student expectations — the Common Core State Standards.
 
Last November, Governor Malloy announced over $24 million in grant requests to bring more computers into classrooms and increase internet bandwidth, which will provide vital support to students, teachers, and school districts as local efforts accelerate to complete the transition to Common Core.  In the current biennial budget, Governor Malloy proposed $14.6 million for training and coaching for educators.
 
Last July, Governor Malloy sought federal approval to provide Connecticut school districts with new flexibility on statewide standardized tests that would offer districts the option to administer the Common Core-aligned Smarter Balanced Assessment rather than Connecticut’s legacy assessments – the CMT and CAPT – this school year, and also offer districts the option not to use state test data in educator evaluations for the current school year.
 
In January, Governor Malloy, joined by Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman, Senate President Donald E. Williams, Jr., and Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey, wrote to the Performance Evaluation Advisory Council, urging the panel to enable the exclusion of state standardized test indicators again in next year’s teacher evaluations; enable school districts to have flexibility in the implementation of evaluation in the current school year and future school years; and streamline the data management requirements at the classroom level.
 
 
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For Immediate Release: June 26, 2014
Contact: Samaia Hernandez
860-524-7314 (office)
860-770-8298 (cell)