School superintendents in East Windsor and Windsor Locks said this week that the recent announcement that the state has been granted a waiver for the federal No Child Left Behind law is good news for their districts.
“I think it is a positive move forward for education and our district,” East Windsor Superintendent of Schools Theresa Kane said of Tuesday’s news. “This is a really exciting time to be in education. A lot of good things are happening.”
On Tuesday, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and federal officials announced that Connecticut was one of eight states to receive a second round of . The governor said that the waiver from the federal act gives Connecticut public schools greater flexibility to spend Federal Title 1 dollars, avoids a situation where about half of the state's public schools would be deemed as "failing" under NCLB guidelines and creates a better system to accurately measure student achievement.
Being cited as a struggling school district under the NCLB guidelines is a distinction that both the Windsor Locks and East Windsor public school system have not enjoyed in the recent years. The distinction is the reason that the districts have been identified as part of the new Performance Alliance, a group of 30 education districts that have been identified as the state’s lowest performing schools. Being part of this group makes the districts eligible for additional conditional state funding; each district has to fill out an application showing how the additional funds would be used.
Malloy's office said that Connecticut's application for the waiver was built around four key principals:
- programs designed to prepare students for college or the workforce;
- a shift toward state defined standards to measure student performance that "sets the bar higher" than the NCLB provisions;
- a focus on supporting effective instruction and leadership;
- and a concentration on reducing "excessive paperwork" and "red tape."
Wednesday, Windsor Locks Superintendent of Schools Wayne Sweeney said the action plan for the state Alliance Program has to be submitted in August. Windsor Locks would be allocated an additional $252,306 for the next school year.
Sweeney said this gives schools some flexibility to meet the state’s regulations without the punitive measures of NCLB. He said the Windsor Locks plan includes the implementation of new Common Core Curriculum, the new extended day/extended year program that will target students who need extra assistance and the multiple pathways being established at the high school for career and college plans. One of the new career pathways is a partnership with Hartford Hospital to train 16 students as EMTs.
“These plans were in place even before we knew about the money,” Sweeney said. “But this will help defray costs to the taxpayers and support our long-range plans.”
East Windsor’s Kane said that the regulations and expectations about student performance are streamlined and clear-cut.
“It is easier to comply when you know what the expectations are,” she said. East Windsor schools also have been updating their curriculum to meet the Common Core Curriculum standards in reading and math throughout all grades next year.
East Windsor is eligible for an additional $168,335 in additional Educational Cost Sharing funding through the Alliance Program.
The district has been working on early intervention goals with the implementation of full-day kindergarten and the elimination of the waiting list for the pre-kindergarten program.
It also has been piloting a new teacher evaluation system.
“The district is well-positioned for this,” Kane said. “I am thrilled that things we have put into place are in the direction the state is going in.”