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Alliance Districts Celebrate Progress/Focus on Work Ahead

Chief Turnaround Officer Morgan Barth presents to representatives from Connecticut's 30 Alliance Districts.

Morgan Barth, director of the State Department of Education’s Turnaround Office, presents to representatives from Connecticut’s 30 Alliance Districts.

The hard work of teachers and students at Alliance Schools this year will be assessed by the “big 5,” according to top state education officials.

Their goal is to have the bottom 5 percent of schools in the Alliance Districts rise to the 25th percentile, increase the percentage of students at goal by 5 percent, increase the District Performance Index by 5 percent, and decrease the student dropout rate by 5 percent.

The objectives were identified by Morgan Barth, director of the Turnaround Office at the Connecticut State Department of Education (SDE). But he was quick to point out that many challenged schools in the Alliance Districts already have bucked the trend with amazing upward trajectories on key indicators.

That remarkable progress has required the selfless dedication of teachers, according to Billie Shea, the principal of Stanton School in Norwich, an Alliance District. “Our teachers have been so positive with so much change. They worked all summer on new curriculum, always with a smile. The teachers are incredible,” said Shea.

A meeting of the 30 Alliance Districts was held today in New Britain. State Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor described the group as having “so much positive energy despite some bumps in the road.” Pryor noted that one quarter of the Alliance Districts showed improvement on some CMT indicators this year. He called that progress “encouraging.” The commissioner also acknowledged that some state funds have not yet been released for improvement programs because some Alliance District Improvement Plans are still being reviewed at the SDE where an iterative process is underway.

Barth noted that the Alliance Districts represent thousands of classrooms where the “amazing talent” of educators enables them to connect with kids. Barth pointed to Norwich, Bloomfield, and New London where especially notable success is being realized. At Nathan Hale School in New London, for example, 89 percent of the students reached goal in math on the 2012 CMT.

The meeting continues. Stay tuned for more on what’s happening.

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