To any skeptics who asked last year whether Gov. Dannel P. Malloy truly intended to make the 2012 legislative session “the education session”, those doubts have been answered. Even before the formal opening of the session, we’ve seen enormous strides toward reforming education in Connecticut.
The governor and his Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor are showing no interest in maintaining the status quo. Last week, the Performance Evaluation Advisory Council (PEAC) unanimously agreed on a model teacher evaluation system that includes student performance as a primary factor. Additionally, the new evaluation system will form the cornerstone of school turnaround efforts in the schools that are most challenged with meeting the diverse learning needs of their students.
This week, the governor and the Commissioner announced their plans for a new three-tiered teacher certification system, where “master teacher,” the highest level, is not obtained by traditional routes like seniority and educational attainment. It is instead a reflection of the ability to “master” the art of teaching, as evidenced by the learning and growth of a teacher’s students. The proposed teacher evaluation system referenced above will fully support this new certification system.
On Thursday, Malloy announced the first steps in acting on his commitment to providing high-quality early learning opportunities for all Connecticut children. At the Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER), we know that three- and four-year old minds hold the greatest potential for developing the skills necessary for learning throughout life. This is the optimal time to provide children with greater access and exposure to quality learning opportunities.
CCER’s mission is to be the business and civic advocate for closing the State’s achievement gap. As Malloy says, Connecticut must be “open for business”. If these last few weeks are any indication, we are well on our way to putting an end to “what ifs” and committing firmly to “what is and what will be” for Connecticut’s future.
Business leaders, such as those who comprise our board, are accustomed to setting goals, measuring results, turning around failed efforts, and duplicating successful practices. The education reform measures that Malloy and Pryor advocate reflect this very approach. CCER and education reform supporters eagerly await the full education agenda that the governor will present in his budget address on Feb. 8.
Rae Ann Knopf recently joined the Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER) as its first Executive Director.