Department of Education
BETTY J. STERNBERG, Commissioner
Statutory authority—Sections 10-1, 10-2, 10-3a, 10-4, 10-4a General Statutes
Central Office—165 Capitol Avenue, Hartford 06106
Average number of full-time positions—1,900
Recurring expenditures for all funds, 2004-2005—$3,093,896,581
Capital outlay, $5,148,500
Organization structure—Office of the Commissioner; three divisions—Finance and Internal Operations, Teaching, Learning and Assessment, and Teaching and Learning Programs and Services; and the Connecticut Technical High School System.
Value of real property—$448,505,904
Number of full-time secondary day students—10,854
Number of part-time adult program registrations—6,300
Our mission is to provide — through leadership and service — expertise, training, encouragement and resources to assist those in the education and related communities to succeed in helping all Connecticut students become effective lifelong learners, able to reach their personal and career goals and become involved, productive, confident and satisfied members of society.
Connecticut’s 11-member State Board of Education is responsible, under Conn. Gen. Statutes Sec. 10-4(a), for “general supervision and control of the educational interests of the state, [including] preschool, elementary and secondary education, special education, vocational education and adult education.” Sec. 10-4a further defines the educational interests of the state as including “the concern of the state . . . that each child shall have for the period prescribed in the general statutes equal opportunity to receive a suitable program of educational experiences.”
As detailed in Sec. 10-4(a), the State Board of Education “shall provide leadership and otherwise promote the improvement of education in the state.” Specific functions include research, planning, evaluation, educational technology (including telecommunications), the publishing of guides to curriculum development and other technical assistance materials, the presentation of workshops, and assessment.
The State Board also serves as the board of education for the Connecticut Technical High School System, which is made up of 17 high schools, one learning center and two satellites.
Members of the State Board are appointed to four-year terms by the governor, subject to the approval of the General Assembly. The Chairperson, appointed by the governor, is Allan B. Taylor, Hartford, whose term expires February 28, 2009. Other members whose terms expire February 28, 2009, are Donald J. Coolican, East Hampton; Theresa Hopkins-Staten, West Hartford; and Patricia B. Luke, New Britain. Terms expire February 28, 2007, for Vice Chairperson Janet M. Finneran, Bethany; Beverly R. Bobroske, Bristol; Timothy J. McDonald, Waterbury; and Lynne S. Farrell, Shelton. Valerie F. Lewis, Commissioner of Higher Education, serves as an ex officio member. Two public high school members served as nonvoting members during 2004-05, the seventh year of student representation. Appointed by Governor M. Jodi Rell to one-year terms were Tori Hendrix, Thomaston, and Callan Walsh, Wilton.
Under Sec. 10-3a, the Department of Education serves as the board’s administrative arm. The commissioner of education, who is appointed by the board, is the department’s administrative officer and, under Sec. 10-2, serves as secretary to the State Board of Education. Betty J. Sternberg, West Hartford, is Connecticut’s 13th commissioner of education.
Greater Expectations: Connecticut’s Comprehensive Plan for Education 2001-2005 both sets the tone and provides specific direction for the five-year period. The central theme is clear: “ . . . we adopt as our vision for the next five years ‘Greater Expectations.’ Our goal is to ensure that all Connecticut students achieve standards of excellence, no matter what community they reside in or what challenges they face. Our concurrent goal is that schools, educators, families and communities also achieve more in their support of Connecticut’s children.”
The board’s goals for 2001-2005 are:
· to achieve resource equity and equality of opportunity;
· to increase student achievement;
· to reduce racial, ethnic and economic isolation;
· to improve effective instruction; and
· to encourage greater parental and community involvement in all public schools of the state.
In 2004-2005, the Connecticut public school system served 578,000 students (pre-kindergarten through Grade 12) in 1,188 schools and programs. The State Board and State Department of Education protect the educational interests of the state by providing leadership and service to the 197 school districts (includes charters and regional school districts) that work directly with and for these students as well as adult learners in many settings.
Over the past year the State Department of Education has enhanced its capacity to address the critical contributions that families make to student achievement. A growing body of research supports the conclusion that when families are involved in children’s education, children do better in school and stay in school longer. Therefore, the State Department of Education is committed to its agency wide efforts and leadership in developing and promoting comprehensive school-family partnership programs and activities that contribute to success for all students. Agency leadership activities include promoting linkages among state and local partners; delivery of training and technical assistance to promote model programs and state standards; policy development and implementation; and collecting and disseminating information about current research and best practice.
Another area of focus is children’s social, emotional, mental and physical health. Recognizing the impact of these factors on learning and achievement has resulted in major initiatives by the Bureau of Health and Nutrition Services and Child, Family and School Partnerships. Initiatives include pilot projects concerning health and nutrition; addition of agency staff to provide support and leadership around school-based mental health services; and targeted training and technical assistance to improve local district capacity to address and minimize these non-academic barriers to learning.
Supporting Connecticut’s efforts to improve school performance and student achievement continued to be an agency priority. Technical assistance and support in a wide range of areas were provided by individuals throughout the department. Areas of focus included preschool, family literacy, school readiness, Even Start, an adult high school diploma initiative, improving services for students with disabilities, Reading First Grants, Early Reading Success Institute, gifted and talented students, the Beginning Educator Support and Training (BEST) Program, teacher certification, school improvement (including the No Child Left Behind Act), and school facilities.
The Bureau of Educator Preparation, Certification, Support and Assessment continued a department wide initiative to address the growing number of retiring educators. The goals of this major “attraction and retention” initiative are to continue to improve the high quality of education offered to students in Connecticut, to properly staff the state’s urban schools, and to expand the opportunities for educators to become educational leaders within the system.
The Connecticut Technical High School System completes a large number of varied community service projects each year. Many involve the use of the students' growing skills in their chosen technical fields. For example, students at Cheney Tech (Manchester) work throughout the year with the National Guard at its heavy equipment maintenance units. In 2004-05 carpentry and electrical students a Windham Tech (Willimantic) and Norwich Tech assisted with the repair of buildings for the Hebron Lion's Club Fair Grounds which had been vandalized. Students at Wilcox Tech (Meriden) built a 'crime scene' village for the Connecticut State Police Academy. Goodwin Tech (New Britain) students collect and repair broken bikes and donate them to needy kids in the community.
Improved student achievement is the agency’s intense and consistent focus.
Fall 2004 was the fifth and final Connecticut Mastery Test (CMT) administration of the third generation for Grades 4, 6 and 8, which began in the fall of 2000. The fourth generation of CMT will begin in spring 2006 and will be administered in Grades 3 – 8. Over the course of the generation, participation in the standard grade-level test increased, on average, from 94 to 99 percent of the students in the grades tested.
Performance trends over the generation suggest that the state’s poorest districts (ERG I) are making progress in closing the achievement gap when compared to the rest of the state (ERGS A-H).
Performance of non-special education and non-English language learners in Grade 8 mathematics is a good example of this trend. In 2000, 86.8 percent of these students in ERGs A-H achieved proficiency on the mathematics test; in 2004, 88.0 percent achieved proficiency, for an increase of 1.2 percentage points. In ERG I over the same five years, the increase in the percentage of these students scoring in the proficient range was from 44.0 to 53.2 or 9.2 percentage points. Thus, the gap in performance on the Grade 8 mathematics test closed by 8.0 percentage points. There were comparable reductions in gaps of 7.5 percentage points in reading and 8.3 in writing in Grade 8 from 2000 to 2004 in the percentage of students reaching proficiency.
The Connecticut Academic Performance Test (CAPT) assesses Grade 10 student achievement in four areas: mathematics, science, reading and writing. The results of spring 2005 testing showed improvement from 2004 in mathematics (46.1 to 47.8 percent of students scoring in the goal range), Reading Across the Disciplines (48.0 to 48.9) and Writing Across the Disciplines (53.7 to 55.2). Students declined slightly in science (47.4 percent to 47.3 percent scoring in the goal range). These increases were evident despite an additional 1,740 students participating in the standard CAPT in 2005 compared to 2004. Nearly 95 percent of Grade 10 students across the state participated in each CAPT test.
Another way to gauge the overall progress of students statewide is to examine the percentage of tested students who achieve the statewide goals on all four CAPT subtests. In 2005, 12,394 students (29.2 percent) succeeded in reaching this mark, 1,464 more students than in 2004. In 2001, the year the second generation of CAPT was first administered, 7,904 students reached this mark.
Progress has been made in meeting the objectives spelled out in the four year stipulation and order, dated January 22, 2003, settlement related to Sheff v. O’Neill. The settlement has two major goals. Eight magnet schools are to be opened in Hartford, two per year, with a total capacity of 4,800 students. Five of the schools were in operation last year, and two of them, Classical and Pathways, were in their second year of operation as magnet schools. Three began magnet school operations in 2005. Two more begin in September, with an eighth school and possible ninth scheduled to begin operation as magnet schools in the fall of 2006. This agreement also seeks to enroll 1,600 Hartford students in the Open Choice Program. This program places Hartford students in available seats in suburban schools. The State Department of Education anticipates that 1,200 Hartford students will be placed in the 2005-06 school year.
The second overall goal is that 30 percent of all Hartford students will have an educational experience with reduced isolation by 2007. This goal can be achieved by using magnet schools, the Open Choice program and interdistrict cooperative programs. Progress has been made in achieving these goals.
The Bureau of Special Education focused its attention on three important initiatives: progress in the Settlement Agreement, P.J., et al. v. State of Connecticut Board of Education, et al., efforts to improve student outcomes through focused monitoring and programs related to parents and families.
The State Department of Education is entering year four of a five-year implementation period for this federal district court case, settled in May 2002. P.J. et al. v. State of Connecticut, et al., addresses, among other issues, the identification and educational programs of students with intellectual disabilities in general education classes, being educated with their nondisabled peers, and in their local school district.
Noteworthy progress has been made since 2000 in the following five areas of the settlement agreement:
· The percent of students with an intellectual disability being educated in a regular class setting nearly doubled, going from 10.8 to 20.4.
· Individual districts have revised practices to more appropriately identify special needs students. Though there remains some disproportionate identification of students by race and ethnicity, for both black and Hispanic students with an intellectual disability there has been a continual and significant reduction in disparate identification.
· The mean percent of the school day that students with an intellectual disability spend with nondisabled students has increased from 34.6 to 51.9. The median time has also increased, going from 30.0 to 52.8.
· The percent of students with intellectual disability who attend their home school has increased from 71.3 to 77.1.
· The percent of students with intellectual disability who participate in school-sponsored extracurricular activities with nondisabled students has increased from 20.3 to 33.2.
The Bureau of Special Education is also entering its second year of monitoring school district implementation and compliance with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Focused monitoring is a process that selects priority areas for monitoring in an effort to maximize resources, emphasize priority variables for improvement, and increase the probability of improved results for students with disabilities. Key performance indicators for the 2004-05 and 2005-06 school years have been 1) the overrepresentation of students with disabilities, in specific disability categories by race/ethnicity; and 2) the education of students with disabilities in the least restrictive environment (LRE). Results from year one of focused monitoring has demonstrated significant improvement on all data probes for both indicators.
Consistent with the recognition of the importance of parents and families to the successful education of students in Connecticut, the Bureau of Special Education has developed and implemented a significant number of strategies designed to assist “parents of students with disabilities, ages 3-21, to participate as full partners in the planning and implementation of their child’s educational program.” An advisory group of parents (Parent Work Group) was created to assist in the development and implementation of these strategies. These strategies include the development of a resource brochure for parents of students with disabilities, the implementation of a State Improvement Grant initiative designed to provide training and support to local districts, the development of a parent satisfaction survey, training in the implementation of the P.J. et. al. v. State of Connecticut et. al. Settlement Agreement and advisement to the Reauthorization of IDEA 2004.
It is the policy of the Connecticut State Board of Education that no person shall be excluded from participation in, denied the benefits of, or otherwise discriminated against under any program, including employment, because of race, color, religious creed, age, sex, marital status, national origin, ancestry, mental retardation, present or past history of mental disability, learning disability or physical disability, including, but not limited to, blindness. Additionally, the department will not knowingly use the services of, patronize, or otherwise deal with any business, contractor, subcontractor or agency that engages in acts of unlawful discrimination.
The Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity, under the direction of the commissioner, is responsible for ensuring the agency’s compliance with a wide variety of federal and state laws and department policies that address equal opportunity in employment and education. Activities related to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act include investigating grievances, determining and documenting reasonable accommodations, and visiting work sites. This office also investigates complaints (in the areas of employment practice, sexual harassment, disability/handicap and age/sex) under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
As required by law, the Annual Affirmative Action Plan was submitted on June 15, 2005, to the Connecticut
Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO). The Affirmative Action Plan was disapproved,
however, but with technical assistance from the CHROs staff; the plan was brought back into compliance
from March 1, 2004, to February 28, 2005.
· One hundred and twenty eight employees were hired; 35 white males, 63 white females,
3 black males, 6 Hispanic females; 4 “other” males and 2 “other” females. Of these hires, there
were 21 goal applicants that either withdrew their applications or declined job offers.
· During this reporting period, there were 36 promotions; 10 white males; 17 white females;
1 black male; 4 black females; 1 Hispanic female; 2 “other” males and 1 “other” female.