Governor Dannel P. Malloy today rolled out another component of his 2012 education reform package—initiatives designed to better support Connecticut’s teachers and attract top candidates to the field. The new proposal includes $3 million in new funding for teacher preparation and recruitment, and an additional $7.5 million for professional development and the implementation of teacher evaluations.
Joined by Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman, Board of Regents Interim President Robert Kennedy, and state Department of Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor, the Governor announced proposals that will strengthen statewide teacher preparation standards, launch a teacher recruitment campaign, and provide enhanced supports to Connecticut’s educators.
“We are going to improve education in Connecticut—that means figuring out what works and fixing what is broken,” said Governor Malloy. “This session we will address how our kids are succeeding in school, and what challenges students, teachers, and administrators are facing. We must examine how schools are working for our kids, how our kids are learning, and who we have at the front of our classrooms. We are proud of the work so many of our teachers are doing, and we are going to do our part to encourage good, successful teachers and get them into the classroom.”
“If we want to have the best-prepared students we need to have the best-prepared teachers,” said Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman. “Teachers and administrators are the foundation of our education system, and this package represents a long-overdue upgrade to that foundation. This is about supporting our teachers and making them better educators so our students are better prepared to succeed both in the classroom and in life.”
Recruit the Best: The Governor’s education package includes $1 million in new financial incentives to recruit top college students. Candidates must possess strong GPAs, high marks on certification exams, and a commitment to working in high-needs schools. Accomplished seniors graduating from teacher preparation programs will be eligible for $5,000 tuition reimbursement grants. Graduates who accept positions in a Priority School District or at a Commissioner’s Network School will be eligible for $10,000 in loan forgiveness.
"Attracting and keeping top-tier, diverse teachers will help improve the classroom experience for our students, and I'm pleased that this tuition forgiveness program will help us do that. Holding everyone accountable- the teachers, the teacher preparation programs and parents and students- will ensure a higher level of success and enable us to assess what's working and what's not," said Board of Regents Interim President Robert Kennedy.
Raise the BarCurrently, state regulations only require prospective teachers to have a B- average before they enroll in educator preparation programs. This standard is simply too low. The Governor’s initiative will strengthen entrance requirements to these programs, including increasing the minimum GPA to a B+. Other entrance requirements will be developed by an Advisory Council to the state Board of Education (see Accreditation section below).
Develop New TalentAcross our region and country, numerous non-profit organizations have emerged to play a critical role in talent development. Such groups, including New Leaders for New Schools, Teach Plus, Leading Educators, and the National Academy for Advanced Teacher Education, work closely with states and districts to attract and develop teachers and school leaders. The Governor’s package includes $2 million to bring such talent pipeline organizations to Connecticut.
Launch the Connecticut School Leadership AcademyTo develop the next generation of school and district leaders, the Governor will establish the Connecticut School Leadership Academy. With $1 million in seed funding, this initiative will partner with school districts to develop customized training programs that graduate leaders – including principal and superintendent candidates – fully-prepared to tackle the many challenges that face our schools.
Establish Outcome Indicator-linked AccreditationFor too long, our institutions of higher education have been judged by class size, course design, and teaching ratios, among other measures, rather than what really matters—the quality of their graduates. The Governor’s education package includes establishing the Education Preparation Advisory Council under the State Board of Education and the Board of Regents. The Education Preparation Advisory Council will examine accreditation regulations and hold teacher preparation programs accountable for several new measures of the quality of their programs—such as preparation program graduates’ performance in the classroom as determined by indicators such as teacher evaluations and student achievement data; program graduates’ retention , turnover, and dismissal rates in their schools; new graduates’ preparation for work in high-need districts; the effectiveness of the preparation program’s recruitment efforts among top tier university students; and structured feedback from school districts on the readiness and effectiveness of preparation program graduates.
Make Professional Development MeaningfulThe Governor’s package includes $5 million to support meaningful professional development opportunities that are aligned to the State’s proposed teacher and administrator evaluation system. Another $2.5 million will fund the build out, start up, and pilot of the evaluation and support system itself – for a total of $7.5 million. In addition, districts will be required to provide effective professional development that is focused on educator’s strengths and needs and delivered by coaches, mentors, and peers in teams and small groups. By making professional development more meaningful, we will eliminate the current, outdated system of Continuing Education Units (CEU’s), which, at present, amount to little more than seat-time and don’t give teachers the individualized help they need to raise student achievement. Instead, under the new system, districts will have greater flexibility to design and deliver customized professional development based upon evaluation data and focusing on the needs of each teacher.
Establish New Career OpportunitiesTeachers have long-lamented that the only path for career advancement is out of teaching and into school administration. As a result, we lose our most accomplished educators from the classroom. To fix this problem and to create new career opportunities, the Governor proposes the creation of a “master” educator certificate, achieved on the basis of exemplary practice. These master teachers will be eligible for new responsibilities and additional pay. The State Education Department will work with educator preparation leaders at our state’s public and private universities to ensure that graduate credit and degree offerings are in line with Connecticut’s revamped certification system.
State Department of Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor said, “One of the most important ingredients in the Governor’s reform package is the emphasis on growing the quality of professional talent in our schools and districts. We are restructuring the State Department of Education in order to be ready for these reforms. We’ve created a new talent team that, headed by a new Chief Talent Officer, will carry out these initiatives. In order to lift the performance of Connecticut’s schools, we need to elevate the education profession in our state. Elevating the profession means doing a far better job of preparing, attracting, developing, evaluating, coaching, recognizing, rewarding, and advancing quality teachers and leaders in our school system. Under the Governor’s plan, that’s exactly what we will do.”