On Wednesday, February 3rd, the Connecticut State Board of Education (Board) held its monthly meeting by video, which was publicly televised and is available online here. The meeting agenda can be found here. Commissioner Cardona was not present due to his Senate confirmation hearing to be the next United States Secretary of Education.

This month’s agenda included:

On the Principles, Procedures, and Standards for the Approval of Private Special Education Programs, the State Department of Education developed a framework to evaluate private facilities’ special education programs. The Board voted unanimously to revise this document after a multi-year initiative by the Bureau of Special Education and multiple stakeholders. The updates to the document reflect best practices in special education programming, and technical regulatory and statutory updates.

On the Adoption of Position Statement on Culturally Responsive Education, the Department recommended a revised position statement to the State Board, originally developed in 2011. The revisions are designed to solidify the Board’s stated commitment that sufficient, specialized, and appropriate resources must be provided to close achievement gaps and affirm culturally responsive education as a critical component of current curriculum, activities, and services as a mainstream pedagogical practice. The Board voted unanimously to approve the revised position statement.

During the agency updates, the Department discussed Connecticut’s allocation of Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) round 2 funding from December in the amount of $492 million. $90% of this funding will be allocated to local school districts, leaving about $49 million for statewide activities. Between the first and second rounds of funding, the state received over $603 million in school funds. Local district distribution is based on a district’s FY20 Title 1 allocation. On ESSER state-level priorities, the Department plans to use funding to bolster academic supports, address learning loss, and promote learning acceleration and recovery. The Department also noted its plans to engage with families and communities, provide additional support for school safety and social-emotional well-being for students, support remote learning, and address the digital divide.

The Department also provided updates on district meetings to identify reopening plans and supports, including meeting with charter schools on these supports. The Department reported that just over 50% of districts statewide have most or all of their grades fully in-person, and the remaining either a mix or exclusively remote.

On school and district accountability, the Department stated that it is not planning to implement school and district accountability in 20-21. Connecticut is currently seeking federal approval to decouple assessment results, not issue summative ratings or categorize schools, and delay identifying new Turnaround and Focus schools until Fall 2022. The Department states that student assessment’s primary purpose is to know the pandemic’s impact on student learning outcomes.

The Department submitted its 2019-20 Report on Student Discipline in Connecticut Public Schools to the State Board of Education, emphasizing that Connecticut has improved in reducing exclusionary discipline actions, but that across multiple categories, Black and brown students continue to be disproportionately disciplined and are more likely to receive more severe sanctions as compared to white students for similar behavior. The focus on charter schools can be found on page 19 of the report.

State Board Member Nomination Confirmations

Additionally, tomorrow, Thursday, 2/4, and next Tuesday, 2/9, we anticipate the following nominations and re-nominations will be taken up by the legislature’s Executive & Legislative Nominations Committee. Pending a committee consensus vote of these members, the names will head to a chamber floor vote to officially become members or become renominated to the State Board of Education:

  • Elwood Exley

  • Martha Paluch Prou

  • Awilda Reasco

  • Bonnie Burr

  • Erik Clemons

  • Malia Sieve and

  • Karen Dubois Walton

As always, please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.

Yamuna (Yam) Menon