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Gov. Malloy: Connecticut Schools Reaching New Milestones

(HARTFORD, CT) - Governor Dannel P. Malloy today joined Connecticut State Department of Education (SDE) Commissioner Dianna R. Wentzell to highlight the milestones the state has reached over the last several years.

Among the accomplishments and milestones highlighted Tuesday are:

  • Connecticut's graduation rate is steadily rising - up 5.2 points since 2010 to 87 percent, which is higher than national average of 82 percent.  Even more encouraging are the closing of the graduation gaps Connecticut has seen with more minority students and students with disabilities graduating in four years than ever before.
  • Connecticut students continue to be among top readers in the nation, according to NAEP results.
  • In 2015, almost 27,000 students, a 5.7% increase over 2014 - took 48,559 AP tests.
    • Traditionally under-represented students posted gains in participation: 5.7% more black students took an AP exam; 3.7% more Hispanic students took an AP exam over 2014.
  • From the 2009-10 school year to the 2013-14 school year, the total number of suspensions and expulsions in Connecticut has reduced by 17 percent.
  • Expansion of the School-Based Diversion Initiative, which is having a real impact on keeping students engaged in school and diverting more students from the juvenile justice system.
  • Since 2011, state funding to the Department of Education increased 24%, or over half a billion dollars ($595,485,244).
    • ECS grants - the main education funding mechanism to municipalities - is up $173.2 million.
  • To date, we have invested over $45 million dollars to support districts, schools and teachers transition to the more rigorous college- and career-ready standards.
  • Getting ready to launch new school accountability system that focused on student growth, as opposed to a snapshot in time of how a student is performing. The new system also takes a more holistic approach to evaluating schools by incorporating non-academic measures like chronic absenteeism, access to arts education and physical fitness.
  • This past fall, Governor Malloy announced that the SAT will replace the Smarter Balanced test for 11th graders, thus reducing over testing at the high school level and giving all students a chance to take this critical college entrance exam for free.

"We are reaching new heights and making significant progress in our schools, and it's all geared towards building a brighter future for our state," Governor Malloy said.  "The successes we achieve today in our classrooms are critical to the future Connecticut tomorrow.  The work our administrators, principals, teachers, parents and students is so important."

"With a soaring graduation rate and students who are among the top readers in the nation, Connecticut is leading the way on collaborative efforts to transform schools and give all children access to a top-quality education that prepares them for success in college, career and life," Commissioner Wentzell said.  "Governor Malloy is transforming futures for thousands of Connecticut students and at the same time creating a path to a brighter, more prosperous future for Connecticut."

Since 2011, hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested into Connecticut schools, an increased investment tied to greater accountability through programs such as the Alliance District and Commissioner's Network, which require districts and schools to submit plans for approval detailing how the investments will improve outcomes for their students. The Alliance Districts represent the 30 lowest performing districts in Connecticut, and have received millions of dollars in additional state investments, totaling over $250 million since the program began.

The Commissioner's Network awards grants to schools that engage in intensive turnaround processes at the school level.  These schools receive additional funding by partnering with the State Department of Education to create and implement meaningful turnaround plans that are approved by a turnaround committee including parents and teachers.

Governor Malloy and Commissioner Wentzell visited Bloomfield High School to celebrate a school that exemplifies the kind of school turnaround and improvement that is changing lives and futures for children in Connecticut. Designated a turnaround school under Connecticut's Accountability System, Bloomfield High School with support from the Connecticut State Department of Education designed and implemented a strategic improvement plan that resulted in dramatically improved graduation rate and student performance. Bloomfield Public Schools also participates in the Alliance District program, which provides increased support and accountability for the 30 lowest performing districts in Connecticut.

In highlighting Bloomfield High School for exiting turnaround status, statewide education leaders noted that Bloomfield has seen an increase in the four-year graduation rate from 74 percent in 2011 to 90 percent in 2014. The school also has demonstrated increased SAT scores and students at the school earned higher scores on the 2015 Smarter Balanced assessment in English language arts than the state average.

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