Malloy: Reduce School Mandates

From Governor Malloy:

(HARTFORD, CT) – Governor Dannel P. Malloy today announced a plan to reduce the burden of red tape and state mandates faced by school districts across the state. Based on the needs of school districts, the Governor’s proposed changes to state policies will empower districts by eliminating barriers to improving student achievement. In particular, today’s announcement will allow local school districts greater flexibility to hire and develop teachers, a process that is currently impeded by certification mandates, and free districts from excessive and redundant data reporting.

“Our state’s school districts should be focused on raising student achievement and preparing our students for success in college and in a career, not on navigating overly burdensome state policies,” said Governor Malloy. “As a state, we will work to ensure that there is a commonsense, evidence-based approach to teacher certification and support that focuses on improving student learning. Where state mandates, regulations, circular letters, and other requirements create barriers to a district’s work, the state needs to examine its practices–and find ways to get out of the way.”

State Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor stated, “Informed by our districts’ leaders and other stakeholders, the Governor’s plan eliminates bureaucratic barriers around teacher certification and data reporting. These barriers frequently make it harder to attract talent and unnecessarily distract school leaders from their main goal: helping teachers improve student achievement.”

In his December 20, 2011 letter to the leaders of the General Assembly, Governor Malloy identified a set of core principles that would guide his education reform efforts in 2012, including during the coming legislative session. The Governor proposed to “unleash innovation by removing red tape and other barriers to success, especially in high-performing schools and districts.”

The plan released by the Governor today will be implemented in two phases.

Phase 1
In the short-term, the Malloy Administration will take steps to address two key areas of state regulation identified by many school districts as among the most onerous: teacher certification and data reporting.

Focusing Certification on the Quality of Teachers
In a recent survey of the state’s superintendents, two-thirds reported that the State Department of Education (SDE) issues too many regulations. Over half (54%) of superintendents identified state policies as a barrier to effectively recognize and promote staff, while only one-third (33%) think that the current structure of Continuing Education Units (CEUs) aligns with the needs of their teachers or students. In response, the Governor is proposing to both simplify processes related to certification and professional development, as well as empowering districts to make these processes more meaningful. Specifically, the package calls for:

· simplifying the certification process;

· consolidating the number of available certificates prior to the “professional” level certificate, from three to one “initial” level certificate;

· maintaining the “professional” certificate on the basis of strong performance as supported by high quality professional development, not seat-time-based Continuing Education Units;

· establishing a new “master” educator certificate for our most accomplished teachers attained on the basis of exemplary performance; and

· increasing districts’ discretion to hire teachers from other states by removing barriers to reciprocity.

Easing Data Reporting Requirements

Twenty percent (20%) of superintendents (the second-most frequent answer in a free-response section) on the survey stated that data reporting requirements are the most burdensome mandates they face. While many of these data requests have an origin in state or federal law, the Education Department has implemented some of its requests in ways that create unnecessary burden and expense for district central offices and schools.

For example, SDE requests almost all of the data reported in the annual strategic district profiles (SDP) and strategic school profiles (SSP) twice–once during the school year, and once again when it compiles the SDPs and SSPs–creating needless duplication of effort by districts.

SDE will consolidate the forms it issues to request data from districts. As a first step, the department will, in the next year, identify and eliminate approximately one-third of the 35 forms used to collect data required by state law this year.

SDE will also convene periodic meetings with a focus group of superintendents and district business administrators to foster ongoing dialogue about attaining more streamlined data practices.

Phase 2
The Governor will convene a seven-member Red Tape Review and Removal Taskforce to examine additional and comprehensive solutions to unnecessarily burdensome state regulations and mandates. The taskforce will review and meet over the next year, soliciting input from all stakeholders, specifically boards of education, superintendents, school leaders, teachers and parents as appropriate. The taskforce will develop recommendations and report to the Governor and the Commissioner of Education by December 15, 2012 ahead of the 2013 legislative session.

Survey of State’s Superintendents
SDE issued the results of a survey taken of superintendents, which was issued in order to better understand the agency’s strengths and weaknesses. 92% of superintendents across the state completed the survey this past fall and 61.1% of superintendents are optimistic about the state’s ability to improve public education. Survey results showed a linkage to Governor Malloy’s recently outlined principles for education reform:

• Governor’s Principle: Enhance families’ access to high-quality early childhood education opportunities

• 92.7% of superintendents strongly agree or agree that the SDE must do more to increase access to early childhood education.

• Governor’s Principle: Authorize the intensive interventions and enable the supports necessary to turn around Connecticut’s lowest-performing schools and districts.

• 53.1% of superintendents believe the SDE is not helping close the achievement gap in their district.

• Governor’s Principle: Expand the availability of high-quality school models, including traditional schools, magnets, charters, and others.

• 75% of superintendents believe they do not have the support and resources to create new schools in their districts

•Governor’s Principle: Unleash innovation by removing red tape and other barriers to success, especially in high-performing schools and districts.

• 66.9 % of superintendents indicate the SDE issues regulations too much.

• Governor’s Principle: Ensure that our schools are home to the very best teachers and principals–working within a fair system that values their skill and effectiveness over seniority and tenure.

• 55% of superintendents believe the SDE has not articulated a clear plan to help attract, retain, and develop teachers and administrators for Connecticut schools.

• Governor’s Principle: Deliver more resources, targeted to districts with the greatest need—provided that they embrace key reforms that position our students for success.

• 67% of superintendents believe the state’s formulas for funding education are unfair or very unfair.


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