Is enough being done to ensure all Connecticut children, especially those in urban areas like Bridgeport, receive a quality education?
According to the education advocacy group Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now (ConnCAN), the answer is no.
ConnCAN released a policy report last Thursday, calling on state officials to take “bold action” to revitalize the Commissioner’s Network, a turnaround program enacted through Connecticut’s landmark 2012 reform bill that provides additional resources and money to low-performing schools.
The policy report calls the Commissioner’s Network “a promising start,” but argues that the success of turnaround policies in other states – for example Massachusetts and Tennessee—prove that more can be done to improve education in Connecticut.
So far, this has rung true in Bridgeport, where only three of the twelve chronically low-performing schools in the district are currently in the program.
While the turnarounds at Dunbar, Curiale and Luis Munoz Marin School have all been encouraging, results have been, admittedly, mixed.
Recent state data is unavailable for Luis Munoz Marin School; however, at Curiale, for example, the Bridgeport school which has spent the most time in the Commissioner’s Network, early analysis show test scores went up across the board in third, fifth and sixth grades, but declined in fourth and seventh.
At Dunbar on the other hand, where state data is limited, there have been promising decreases in school suspension and chronic absenteeism.
ConnCAN’s policy report outlines eight specific recommendations that could nudge forward schools already in the Commissioner’s Network like Curiale and Dunbar, as well as other the nine chronically low-performing that are in need of additional targeted assistance.
Specific policy recommendations include asking the state to extend the amount of time schools are allowed to stay on the Commissioner’s Network and removing the cap on the number of Commissioner’s Network schools a given district can have.
Currently, a district may only have four Commissioner’s Network schools at a time, and each school can only continue in the Commissioner’s Network program for a maximum of five year.
Imagine the good that could come from turning around all of Bridgeport’s chronically failing schools? That’s more than 10,000 students who might be given a better chance at success.
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