Connecticut Seal

General Assembly

 

Raised Bill No. 6432

January Session, 2011

 

LCO No. 3824

 

*03824_______ED_*

Referred to Committee on Education

 

Introduced by:

 

(ED)

 

AN ACT CONCERNING CLOSING THE ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT GAP.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. (Effective July 1, 2011) (a) There is established a task force to address the academic achievement gap between racial and socioeconomic groups in Connecticut by considering effective approaches to closing the achievement gap in elementary, middle and high schools. The task force shall develop, in consultation with the Department of Education, the Connecticut State University System, the Interagency Council for Ending the Achievement Gap established pursuant to section 2 of this act, and the joint standing committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to education, a master plan to eliminate the academic achievement gap by January 1, 2020.

(b) The task force shall consist of the following members:

(1) Two appointed by the speaker of the House of Representatives;

(2) Two appointed by the president pro tempore of the Senate;

(3) One appointed by the majority leader of the House of Representatives;

(4) One appointed by the majority leader of the Senate;

(5) One appointed by the minority leader of the House of Representatives;

(6) One appointed by the minority leader of the Senate; and

(7) The Commissioner of Education, or the commissioner's designee.

(c) Any member of the task force appointed under subdivision (1), (2), (3), (4), (5) or (6) of subsection (b) of this section may be a member of the General Assembly.

(d) All appointments to the task force shall be made not later than August 1, 2011, and shall reflect the geographic and cultural diversity of the state and shall have experience in business, education and philanthropic organizations. Any vacancy shall be filled by the appointing authority.

(e) The speaker of the House of Representatives and the president pro tempore of the Senate shall select the chairpersons of the task force from among the members of the task force. Such chairpersons shall schedule the first meeting of the task force, which shall be held not later than September 1, 2011.

(f) The administrative staff of the joint standing committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to education shall serve as administrative staff of the task force.

(g) Not later than July 1, 2012, the task force shall submit the master plan described in subsection (a) of this section to the joint standing committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to education, in accordance with the provisions of section 11-4a of the general statutes. The task force shall terminate on July 1, 2020.

Sec. 2. (NEW) (Effective July 1, 2011) (a) There is established an Interagency Council for Ending the Achievement Gap. The council shall consist of: (1) The Lieutenant Governor, or the Lieutenant Governor's designee, (2) the Commissioner of Education, or the commissioner's designee, (3) the Commissioner of Children and Families, or the commissioner's designee, (4) the Commissioner of Social Services, or the commissioner's designee, (5) the Commissioner of Public Health, or the commissioner's designee, (6) the Commissioner of Higher Education, or the commissioner's designee, (7) the Commissioner of Economic and Community Development, or the commissioner's designee, (8) the Commissioner of Administrative Services, or the commissioner's designee, and (9) the Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management, or the secretary's designee. The chairperson of the council shall be the Lieutenant Governor, or the Lieutenant Governor's designee.

(b) The Interagency Council for Ending the Achievement Gap shall (1) assist the achievement gap task force, established pursuant to section 1 of this act, in the development of the master plan to eliminate the academic achievement gap in Connecticut, described in section 1 of this act, (2) implement the provisions of such master plan, and, if necessary, make recommendations for legislation relating to such master plan to the joint standing committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to education, and (3) submit periodic progress reports on the implementation of such master plan to the achievement gap task force established pursuant to section 1 of this act.

(c) The Interagency Council for Ending the Achievement Gap shall be within the Department of Education for administrative purposes only.

Sec. 3. (NEW) (Effective July 1, 2011) Not later than July 1, 2012, the Department of Education shall develop model curricula in reading and mathematics for use by local and regional boards of education for grades prekindergarten to grade four, inclusive.

Sec. 4. (NEW) (Effective July 1, 2011) The Department of Education shall annually prepare a list of school districts and individual schools identified as having an achievement gap. The local or regional board of education for any school district or individual school so identified by the department as having an achievement gap shall biannually submit, in accordance with the provisions of section 11-4a of the general statutes, accountability reports to the department, the achievement gap task force established pursuant to section 1 of this act and the joint standing committee of the General Assembly having cognizance of matters relating to education. Such accountability reports shall include descriptions of efforts being made to address and eliminate the achievement gap in the school district or individual school. For purposes of this section, "achievement gap" means the existence of a significant disparity in the academic performance of students along racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups, as determined by the department.

Sec. 5. Section 10-4q of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective July 1, 2011):

(a) The State Board of Education shall establish a State Education Resource Center to assist the board in the provision of programs and activities that will promote educational equity and excellence. Such activities, to be provided by the State Education Resource Center or a regional educational service center, may include training and continuing education seminars, publication of technical materials, research and evaluation, and other related activities. The center may support programs and activities concerning early childhood education, the federal No Child Left Behind Act, P.L. 107-110, and closing the academic achievement gap between socio-economic subgroups, and other related programs.

(b) The Commissioner of Education, with the assistance of the State Education Resource Center, may provide grants to local and regional boards of education for districts identified as in need of improvement under the provisions of section 10-223e. The grants shall be for the creation and acquisition of new curricula, training in the use of the curricula and related supporting textbooks and other materials. Local and regional boards of education may use such grants only for curricula, training and related textbooks and materials that have been authorized by the commissioner. Local and regional boards of education shall apply for grants pursuant to this subsection at such time and in such manner as the commissioner prescribes, and the commissioner shall determine the amount of the grant awards.

(c) Within available appropriations, the Department of Education shall establish a Connecticut School Reform Resource Center within the State Education Resource Center established pursuant to subsection (a) of this section or by contract through a regional educational service center. The center shall operate year-round and focus on serving the needs of all public schools. The center shall (1) publish and distribute reports on the most effective practices for improving student achievement by successful schools, (2) provide a program of professional development activities for school leaders, including curriculum coordinators, principals, superintendents and board of education members, (3) provide information on successful models for evaluating student performance and managing student data, and (4) provide other programs and materials to assist in the improvement of public schools.

(d) The Department of Education shall establish a Connecticut School Cultural Resource Center within the State Education Resource Center established pursuant to subsection (a) of this section or by contract through a regional educational service center. The center shall operate year-round and shall serve all public schools. The center shall (1) develop culturally-relevant methods for educating students whose primary language is not English, (2) develop strategies for assisting such students who are in danger of failing, and (3) provide a program of professional development activities for teachers to educate such students that includes research-based child development and reading instruction tools and practices.

Sec. 6. Section 10-15 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof (Effective July 1, 2011):

Public schools including kindergartens shall be maintained in each town for at least one hundred eighty days of actual school sessions during each year. When public school sessions are cancelled for reasons of inclement weather or otherwise, the rescheduled sessions shall not be held on Saturday or Sunday. Public schools may conduct weekend education programs to provide supplemental and remedial services to students. A local or regional board of education for a school that has been designated as a low achieving school pursuant to subdivision (1) of subsection (c) of section 10-223e may increase the number of actual school sessions during each year, and may increase the number of hours of actual school work per school session in order to improve student performance and remove the school from the list of schools designated as a low achieving school maintained by the State Board of Education. The State Board of Education (1) may authorize the shortening of any school year for a school district, a school or a portion of a school on account of an unavoidable emergency, and (2) may authorize implementation of scheduling of school sessions to permit full year use of facilities which may not offer each child one hundred eighty days of school sessions within a given school year, but which assures an opportunity for each child to average a minimum of one hundred eighty days of school sessions per year during thirteen years of educational opportunity in the elementary and secondary schools. Notwithstanding the provisions of this section and section 10-16, the State Board of Education may, upon application by a local or regional board of education, approve for any single school year, in whole or in part, a plan to implement alternative scheduling of school sessions which assures at least four hundred fifty hours of actual school work for nursery schools and half-day kindergartens and at least nine hundred hours of actual school work for full-day kindergartens and grades one to twelve, inclusive.

Sec. 7. (NEW) (Effective July 1, 2011) The Department of Education shall establish an educator certification reciprocity program. Such reciprocity program shall permit the department to (1) enter into reciprocity agreements with other states that have equivalent educator certification standards, and (2) issue an educator certificate pursuant to chapter 166 of the general statutes to an educator who is certified by a state in which the department has entered into such a reciprocity agreement.

Sec. 8. (NEW) (Effective July 1, 2011) Not later than July 1, 2013, the local and regional boards of education for school districts identified as priority school districts, pursuant to section 10-266p of the general statutes, shall (1) make school readiness spaces available to all eligible children who reside in the priority school district, and (2) provide full-day kindergarten to all children who reside in the priority school district.

This act shall take effect as follows and shall amend the following sections:

Section 1

July 1, 2011

New section

Sec. 2

July 1, 2011

New section

Sec. 3

July 1, 2011

New section

Sec. 4

July 1, 2011

New section

Sec. 5

July 1, 2011

10-4q

Sec. 6

July 1, 2011

10-15

Sec. 7

July 1, 2011

New section

Sec. 8

July 1, 2011

New section

Statement of Purpose:

To reestablish the achievement gap task force and require the task force to develop a master plan to eliminate the academic achievement gap in Connecticut by 2020; to create the Interagency Council for Ending the Achievement Gap to assist the achievement gap task force in developing and implementing the master plan; to require the Department of Education to develop model curricula in reading and mathematics for grades prekindergarten to grade four, inclusive; to require school districts that have an achievement gap to submit biannual accountability reports on the district's efforts to eliminate the achievement gap; to establish the Connecticut School Cultural Resource Center within the State Education Resource Center to develop ways to help English language learners succeed in school; to allow school districts to increase the school day and school year if such school district has a school that has been identified as low achieving; to require the Department of Education to establish an educator reciprocity program to make it easier for certified out-of-state educators to receive certification in Connecticut; and to phase in mandatory school readiness and full-day kindergarten in priority school districts.

[Proposed deletions are enclosed in brackets. Proposed additions are indicated by underline, except that when the entire text of a bill or resolution or a section of a bill or resolution is new, it is not underlined.]