Connecticut laws/regulations; Background;

OLR Research Report

September 5, 2012




By: John Moran, Principal Analyst

Judith Lohman, Assistant Director

You asked for a summary of the four school turnaround plans recently approved by the State Board of Education (SBE) to improve student achievement as part of the Commissioner's Network of Schools.


The 2012 Education Reform Act (PA 12 -116) created a program called the Commissioner's Network of Schools, which requires schools with low-performing students to craft turnaround plans aimed at improving student achievement. By July 1, 2014, the education commissioner must select at least 25 of the state's lowest-performing schools to participate in the program. Under the law, each school forms a committee to craft a plan. The committees must include representatives of parents, teachers, the respective school districts, and SDE.

Four schools, Curiale Elementary in Bridgeport, High School in the Community in New Haven, Milner Elementary in Hartford, and Stanton Elementary in Norwich, volunteered to participate in the network starting in the 2012-13 school year. All four rank in the lowest 10% of state schools for academic performance. They submitted turnaround plans, which the SBE approved at its August 9, 2012 meeting.

The four plans have many similarities. They all propose:

1. heightened efforts to improve student behavior so less class time is lost on discipline and fewer students have to leave the class due to discipline issues;

2. more administrative support for principals so the principal can spend less time on non-instructional issues such as school operations;

3. performance evaluations for teachers and using the evaluation to improve teacher professional development;

4. increasing the length of the school day, school year, or both in order to provide more instructional time; and

5. using data teams to continuously inform teachers of student performance so instruction can be modified as needed.

There are also significant differences among the plans. Two call for new principals (who have already been hired), while two do not. One has significant programs in place from previous turnaround efforts that will help the new effort (Milner), while others do not. Milner is also the only one that includes a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the teachers union that spells out the pay increases triggered by the expanded school day and year.

The management of Milner School is being turned over to a charter school, Jumoke Academy, and Jumoke leadership was closely involved in the turnaround plan. High School in the Community is a teacher–run interdistrict magnet school that will continue to be operated by its teachers for the turnaround.


This report does not attempt to include the details of every plan, but rather provides the key points of each. Table 1 below shows highlights of each plan broken down by the major requirements of the turnaround plan application.

Table 1: Highlights of Turnaround Plans for Four Schools

Curiale Elementary,


High School

In the Community,

New Haven

Milner Elementary,


Stanton Elementary,


Selected School Facts

Grades K-8

Expected enrollment for 2012-12: 758

95%+ eligible for free and reduced-price lunch

Largest growing subgroup: Asian

300 suspensions/year

Daily absentee rate: 27%

Grades 9-12

Interdistrict Magnet School

Enrollment: 250-350

Teacher-run school; managed by New Haven Federation of Teachers (NHFT)

88% eligible for free and reduced-price lunch

20% special needs

Graduation rate: 60% for class of 2011

Grades Pre K-8

Enrollment: approximately 425

95%+ eligible for free or reduced price lunch

19% not fluent in English

11% special needs

From 2007-2011 Milner operated as a Core Knowledge Academy in Hartford's system of “choice schools”

Student achievement has remained among the lowest in Hartford and Connecticut despite several previous turnaround attempts

Turnaround plan developed under the leadership of Jumoke Academy Charter School

Grades Pre K- 5

Enrollment: approximately 418

75% eligible for free or reduced- price lunch

20% not fluent in English

11% special needs

Significant Haitian-Creole, Chinese, and Spanish speaking populations

Has active school governance council


Family/Community Involvement

Establish school governance committee

Establish school/family compact

Survey parents to determine how best to transmit information and how the school can best help them to support their children's education

Provide services for staff to communicate with parents in Spanish and other languages

Identify a parent volunteer coordinator at the school

Enlist various local nonprofits to help train parents

Partner with Southwest Community Health Center to provide medical services to students and families

Establish and regularize home contact process and point person; update contact information, handbook, home support contract, and process for identifying and supporting homes with extensive needs

Develop technology-based home and community communication using updated website, social media, blogs, and English and Spanish

Develop new and enhanced community partnerships to promote student internships and participation in community-based learning, and to supplement existing curriculum

Designate room parents for each class to help communicate important school information to other parents and encourage parents to more fully participate in the school

Establish parent academies

Hire a parent-family liaison for outreach

Hire paraprofessionals who speak Haitian/Creole, Chinese, and Spanish

Fully engage the school governance council

Maximize use of technology-based student information system including translations in Haitian/Creole, Chinese, and Spanish to web page

Require teachers to create biweekly web pages to provide information on school and how parents can support their child's education

Establish satellite offices in Greeneville and other neighborhoods to work with parents and give access to student information on the web

Provide transportation to parents for school-related events

Engage parents in a student mentoring program in years two and three

Survey parents to gauge interests and resources

Create a “welcome program” for new families

Create a summer immersion program for Haitian-Creole and Spanish students

Implement school/family compact pledge in which each family volunteers at school for 10 hours a year, assists children with homework, and attends parent conferences


School Environment

Provide professional development and oversight for teachers on implementing the Positive Behavioral Intervention System (PBIS)

Develop and implement Schoolwide Enrichment Program to reduce suspensions and improve behavior

Implement consistent approach in curriculum, discipline, and other areas

Improve physical environment in school building

Partner with Southwest Community Health Center (see above)

Link with other agencies to provide additional enrichment, arts, and recreation programs

Establish school culture initiative, including PBIS, home support contracts, and guidance groups (groups of 10-12 students assigned to a guidance teacher who serves as resource for the students throughout high school)

Have guidance teachers work with students on student success plans and confer periodically with them about mid-term and quarterly academic progress reports

Implement building repairs and technology upgrades, including smart boards, iPads for teachers and students, and Macbooks for teachers

Identify and initiate wraparound services on individual, subgroup, and school-wide basis

Require student uniforms

Establish responsive classroom principles for improving school culture

Hold diversity celebration to promote respect for cultural differences

Hold blazer ceremony to recognize milestones in child's education

Expand and improve after-school program that already has high participation; ensure after-school activities aligned to support what happens in class

Continue to use Hartford Community School Model features that address non-academic factors

Institute weekly character education classes for all children

Continue counseling and choice process for 8th graders to address high school selection

Continue and improve implementation of PBIS in year one of turnaround including training all teachers in PBIS

Have governance council conduct pre- and post- PBIS implementation school climate audits

Have turnaround committee evaluate the effectiveness of PBIS in creating a positive school environment

Provide a family liaison to assist families in addressing attendance problems and implement proactive interventions


Effective Leadership

Select a new principal with successful experience and vision for school (Brett Gustafson selected)

Help new principal by designating an assistant principal and an instructional leadership team made up of selected, experienced teachers to be trained as peer observers/evaluators

Add leadership positions to existing administrative structure

Redistribute and differentiate leadership tasks: (1) academic coordinator to focus on student achievement, (2) magnet resource officer to increase out-of-district enrollment, and (3) parent liaison

Develop a portfolio process for measuring leadership accountability in individual areas of responsibility

Establish targeted, ongoing professional development for school leadership team

Continue teacher-elected school leaders; make decisions by consensus, with day-to-day decisions made by leadership team and long-term or significant program changes, by faculty at large

Select new principal (Doreen Crawford, former Jumoke principal, selected)

Create new position of operational manager to relieve the academic staff, including principal, of operational duties

Establish goals to help sustain effective leadership

Empower teachers and improve professional development

Provide academic assistant in every classroom

Establish executive council to advise school leadership

Establish new structure with school divided into two centers for learning: preK-5 and 6-8 grades with separate leadership, associate principal (preK-5) and curriculum coordinator (6-8)

Establish dean of enrichment and culture to facilitate academic improvement and address behavioral problems

Coordinate academic and socio/emotional development under a single set of principles

Ensure the resources necessary to implement the Jumoke model at Milner

Train all Milner staff, parents, students, leaders and parents in the Jumoke model

Increase principal's role as instructional leader

Hire additional staff to assume day-to-day management tasks to help free some of principal's time

Purchase technology-based data collection and assessment system and hire data manager to provide principal with current data to inform teaching

Hire eight teaching residents to support teachers in each class

Hire interns for each grade level (subject to negotiations with teachers union)

Hire consultant to support principal in her professional development

Hire administrative literacy specialist to oversee student interventions

Institute a program with instructional coach and teachers to model lessons and give each other feedback

Expand the decision-making role of the school data team

Increase the amount of common planning time with data team leader taking leadership role


Effective Teachers and Support Staff

Implement opt in/opt out process for current staff in conjunction with Bridgeport Education Association; re-interview current staff

Implement new teacher evaluation system based on classroom observation, student performance, and other measures

After first year under new teacher evaluation program, transfer teachers rated less than proficient and recruit new teachers rated exemplary as replacements

Provide double planning periods for each grade at least once per week

Provide literacy and math coaches to support teachers

Improve overall quality of teachers as measured by district Teacher Evaluation (TEVAL) system; improve student outcomes on state tests and other internal and external learning measures

Require existing teachers to reapply for positions (already replaced 10 of 28 nonleadership positions for 2012-13)

Establish and develop peer observation process for teachers to assist instructional quality and student learning

Use peer observation findings and teacher reports of needs to present professional learning opportunities within extended day schedule and participate in outside professional development opportunities

Add a coteacher to cover classes for teachers who are collaborating or working on professional development

Select teachers through a structured teacher selection process (consistent with provisions of current union contract)

Require teachers to make a three-year commitment to Milner

Require teachers to agree to 207 student days and additional professional training days

Require teaching candidates to demonstrate a belief that all children can learn and desire to implement best instructional practices

Involve Jumoke leadership in hiring process but require all successful candidates to be hired by Hartford Public Schools

Institute an integrated teacher instructional planning/performance evaluation/professional development strategy based on Jumoke Academy practices (and consistent with Hartford union contract)

Provide orientation and training in the Jumoke model including time throughout the year for grade-level partners and peers to co-plan lessons and unit plans

Provide on-going, job-embedded professional development, which is key to Jumoke model

Conduct weekly meetings with curriculum coaches or coordinators for ongoing support and guidance in implementing the curriculum

Require leaders make scheduled and unscheduled classroom visits to help ensure fidelity in curriculum implementation

Schedule monthly formal professional development for each teacher

Include in training: (1) Implementation of new revised curriculum aligned to the Common Core Standards, (2) using data to make decisions, and (3) differentiated instruction for English language learners

Evaluate teachers using Teachscape tools being implemented throughout the district

Establish “teacher leaders” to provide insight into teachers' needs and assist with professional development

Implement academic assistant as an instructional partner for the teacher to increase differentiated instruction

Ensure effective teachers through performance evaluations, staff reassignment, and job-embedded professional development informed by the evaluations

Require additional professional development before implementing additional instructional time

Increase planning time during school hours

Allow teachers time during school hours to observe other teachers

Require turnaround committee to work with lead partner entity to guide teacher evaluation committee at Stanton and elsewhere in the district

Require superintendent to meet with teaching candidates for open positions to confirm their commitment to, and understanding of, the turnaround process (hiring underway at time turnaround plan submitted)

Plan and implement a talent strategy plan


Use of Time

Increase school day by 88 minutes by staggering staff schedules

Increase school year by five days

Establish block schedule to include 90-minute literacy and 60-minute math block each day

Double planning periods for each grade at least once per week

Add one hour to school day to (1) increase teacher collaboration on student work, (2) share information and data among teachers, and (3) give students targeted interventions, if needed.

Add four days at beginning and end of school year for teachers to improve or change three periods devoted to sustained silent reading, activities, and guidance

In year two, start school day later than current 7:55 a.m. to match research in high school student sleep patterns

Give priority to providing students with more quality instructional time

Extend the school day

Schedule 12 Saturday academies (from 9 a.m. to noon) for the 2012-13 school year and require students in need of additional help to attend

Implement one of the following two options for extending the school year:

Capital Prep Magnet School model of five marking periods over 11 months (July to May with four-week break in June) to increase number of school days to 202, or

Formal summer inter-session of four to five weeks

Phase-in an extended calendar during 2012-13 school year after discussion and appropriate buy-in by parents and other stakeholders with goal of full implementation in 2013-14 school year

Explore ways to increase student participation in after-school program and align after-school program to explicitly support classroom instruction

Year 1: Add one instructional hour to school day beginning November 2012 (total of 123 additional hours)

By year 3, have a total of 300 additional hours phased in, including extended school year and summer instruction and days

Add one professional development day for teachers and five hours a week for turnaround-related activities


Curriculum and Instructional Program

Set maximum class sizes of 20 students for grades K-1 and 25 for grades 2-8

Initiate a rigorous K-3 literacy initiative with intensive professional development for teachers and staff in reading and writing instruction

Establish a new standards-based core curriculum

Implement new instructional programs in literacy, math, and science as well as high-level, in-classroom interventions for all students

Use flexible student groupings for reading and math instruction, based on assessment results

Use Schoolwide Enrichment Model to identify students' strengths and weaknesses to provide personalized instruction

Initiate a two-tiered instructional program designed to ensure mastery of essential skills and content: (1) core academy- mastery of core skills and content required by Common Core State Standards and (2) community bridge academy consisting of individualized student programs directed at bridging supported high school learning and independent college or career readiness

Base promotions on skill mastery rather than seat time

Revise curriculum to (1) align with Common Core Standards required for advancement from level-to-level in core academy and 21st century skills, (2) integrate theme of Law and Social Justice, and (3) integrate higher-order thinking skills using HOTS Program

Increase breadth of student learning experiences

Focus on curriculum and instruction based on core academic and social skills

Align curriculum with Common Core Standards as required in all Hartford public schools

Adopt Jumoke mode, which pays close attention to preparing teachers to implement curriculum, including curriculum training, weekly meetings with curriculum coach, ongoing observation, and professional development throughout the school year

Since approximately 80% of teachers will be new to Milner, put an instructional team in place with the skills, capacity, and interest in implementing the new model

Reduce class size to a maximum of 22 students

Restrict new enrollment after October 1

Add a bilingual and an ELL teacher to the staff to work with the large ELL population, with support from new ELL staff hired at Hartford Public Schools main office

Create school redesign with a school-wide curriculum theme in Year 1, with full implementation in Year 2

Improve instructional practices by adding an instructional literacy coach to train teachers and assist administrative literacy specialist

Develop common lesson plan template with shared lesson planning across grade levels

Use teachers as learning case managers for each student

Use data for instructional decision-making

Provide coaching and professional development for teachers through mentor relationships with math coach

Use months of September through November 2012 to collect data from MAPS, data team meetings, and instructional observations of piloted models (Imagine It, Singapore Math, etc.) to determine what new reading and math instructional models are needed

Research an Accelerated Academy in year 1 for implementation in year 2


Use of Data

Use benchmarked assessments to identify students below proficiency for further academic intervention

Use common progress assessments for each grade based on curriculum and content taught

Hold monthly meetings for data and instructional teams to analyze data, ensure alignment, spot trends, and adjust programs

Use data to identify teachers needing professional development and support

Hold weekly common planning meetings to focus on data

Establish schoolwide data team to oversee use of data in decision-making; use data to make decisions, and provide transparency for decision-making

Develop and implement standards-based interim assessments and use student work to improve teaching and learning

Develop and implement measures for monitoring student growth and institutional progress, including standardized test scores, student performance in and out of class, and portfolios

Use Northwest Evaluation Association's (NWEA) MAP test three times per year to provide information to guide teachers in adjusting lesson plans

Integrate Jumoke's comprehensive approach to using data to support instructional efforts and student achievement with Milner reforms

Give teachers time to review and analyze data

Allow grade-level data teams to share planning time

Use the curriculum director and two curriculum coaches to coordinate data teams' work

Use the “dashboard” of key student data to align Milner data collection with Hartford Public School (HPS) accountability system

Make the School Performance Index (SPI) the main school-wide data measure in order to cut by 50% the gap between Milner students and the SDE-set standard (SPI 88)

Use a blend of Connecticut Mastery Test (CMT) assessments and data from a technology-based, Common Core-aligned system to analyze and inform student achievement

implement the NWEA MAP data/assessment system

Hire a data manager to provide principal with current data to inform teaching

Make all data teams effective in analyzing literacy, math, and behavioral data

Create and use a lesson plan template

Participate in embedded professional development on data-driven, decision-making skills and effective data team processes

Provide data to the Turnaround Committee for review


Monitoring and Oversight

Turnaround committee to meet monthly with principal and district assessment director to receive feedback from school-based committee members

Data to be analyzed includes assessment results, special education referrals, discipline data, teacher and student attendance data, parent attendance at school meetings, and teacher observation information

Committee to make monthly reports to district chief administrative officer, superintendent, and board of education

District chief administrative officer, superintendent, education commissioner or designee, and district directors of instruction to visit school twice per month to interview teachers and observe plan implementation

Give specific teams responsibility for developing and implementing various initiatives and strategies

Identify team leaders

Teams to consist of certified teachers and, where appropriate and possible, parents and students

Designated teams to provide regular reports on progress to the Building Leadership Data Team, which must report to the School Planning and Management Team and the Turnaround Committee, the New Haven director of instruction, other interested administrators, and New Haven Federation of Teachers leadership

Executive council of the school monitors progress

Existing school governance council provide site-based oversight

School turnaround committee provides another level of oversight

Additional oversight provided by group including HPS superintendent, Jumoke CEO, two board members (one from each partner organization), and a person the education commissioner designates

Turnaround committee, in consultation with the Stanton school governance council, to monitor plan implementation. Committee will also:

Take part in facilitated monthly meetings to discuss implementation

Establish two-way communication with school governance council

Report to the commissioner and SBE on implementation

Annually review update and revise plan as needed

Commissioner or his designee may review the plan's progress and convene turnaround committee to consider changes as needed


Existing Features/Programs Turnaround Plan Incorporates

The city of Bridgeport's Lighthouse Program provides educational and recreational wraparound services

40-year history as a teacher-run school

High teacher satisfaction

Full-time community school director and after-school program director

After-school program runs until 6 p.m. and serves dinner to over 100 students

Academics supported during after-school program through curricula that are hands-on-fun for students

Catholic Charities provides case management services for students with home or behavioral issues

Catholic Charities “Finish Strong” program helps students and parents during the high school selection process

Implementation of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) resulted in improvements in student behavior

Build on existing school-based health center for wraparound services


Union Contract Considerations or Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs)

None needed – No issues with implementing turnaround plan within existing collective bargaining agreement

NHFT and district agree to negotiate before the end of third year, regarding district maintenance of extended day and retention of new positions

MOU between Harford Board of Education (HBE) and Hartford Federation of Teachers (HFT) agrees to:

Teachers work extended day (eight hours) starting with 2012-13 so pay differential is 8%

Teachers work extended school year starting in 2013-14 so pay differential is 22.7%

Teachers may be mandated to work 12 Saturday mornings (8:30- 12:30) each year in their academic areas; pay would be on a pro-rata rate based on teacher's actual salary

Eight additional professional development days paid on a per diem rate

Teachers who accept a position at Milner must commit to three years at the school

Question of whether academic assistants for each classroom are employees of HBE or Jumoke Academy is still unresolved

Norwich School District and Norwich Teachers League have begun to hold meetings to discuss possible changes to the union contract that may be necessary to implement the turnaround plan. The application indicates that an MOU between the parties has to be agreed to in the future.