OLR Bill Analysis

sSB 175

AN ACT CONCERNING RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION.

SUMMARY:

This bill makes a number of changes in the education statutes.

It authorizes boards of education to affix the Connecticut State Seal of Biliteracy to diplomas of students who achieve a high level of proficiency in English and one or more foreign languages. The bill defines “foreign language” as a world language other than English and includes American Sign Language and any language spoken by a federally recognized Native American tribe.

The bill requires the State Board of Education to establish criteria, by September 1, 2017, under which a local or regional board of education may affix the seal of biliteracy on a student's diploma. It also permits local or regional boards of education, starting with the high school graduating class of 2018, to affix the seal to a diploma of a student who has met the biliteracy criteria. The local or regional board must include the designation on such student's transcript.

The bill also makes changes to the laws regarding:

1. teacher certification recognition agreements with other states or territories or possessions of the U.S.,

2. bilingual teacher certification,

3. alliance district funding and districts' authority to carry forward funds,

4. the parent university program, and

5. various grant programs.

EFFECTIVE DATE: July 1, 2016 except that the grant provisions in Sections 7-10 are effective upon passage.

3 — TEACHER CERTIFICATION INTERSTATE AGREEMENTS

By law the education commissioner can establish or join interstate agreements with other states or jurisdictions to facilitate the certification of qualified teachers from other states or jurisdictions in Connecticut. The bill removes the criteria that such agreements require that the applicants (1) have taught under an appropriate certificate issued by another state, territory or possession of the U.S., the District of Columbia, or the commonwealth of Puerto Rico and (2) meet all other conditions of the interstate agreement, and instead it replaces that with the requirement that the applicant have successfully completed an approved educator preparation program. The bill leaves unchanged the other criteria that these applicants (1) hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university and (2) have fulfilled post-preparation tests the commissioner approves. For purposes of interstate agreements or recognition statements, a “state” means another state, territory, or possession of the U.S., the District of Columbia, or the commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

Under current law the SBE must issue an initial educator certificate to an out-of-state applicant who satisfies the interstate agreement's requirements. Under the bill the SBE can grant any appropriate level of educator certificate (initial, provisional, or professional), based on the applicant's qualifications.

The bill also provides that in instances when the commissioner is unable to establish or join an interstate agreement with another state, the commissioner may create and make available a recognition statement that specifies the states, assessments, and educator preparation programs that she will recognize for purposes of issuing teacher certification.

4 — BILINGUAL TEACHER CERTIFICATION

The bill specifies that successful candidates for bilingual teacher certification must demonstrate oral competency in English as well as written competency in English (by law unchanged by the bill, they must also demonstrate written and oral competency in the other language). It also specifies that (1) oral competency in either language will be demonstrated by an appropriate SDE-selected method and (2) elementary bilingual teacher certification is valid for kindergarten through eighth grade.

5 — ALLIANCE DISTRICT FUNDS

By law a school district designated as an alliance district can carry over the full amount of any unexpended alliance district funds from one year to the next. The bill continues this but adds the condition that the carried over funds must be spent for purposes provided in the district's SDE-approved alliance district plan. Alliance districts are the 30 districts in the state with the lowest student performance.

6 — PARENT UNIVERSITY PROGRAM

The bill establishes a parent university grant program in SDE to provide grants to educational reform districts to provide educational opportunities for parents of students enrolled in certain schools who live in certain neighborhoods. The bill does not specify how the certain schools or neighborhoods are determined. Educational reform districts are the 10 school districts in the state with the lowest student performance.

The districts may apply for the grants on their own or in a partnership with a nonprofit organization. The education commissioner prescribes the time and manner of the application process.

The bill permits SDE to accept private donations for the parent university program, provided the donations do not limit the scope of parent university program grants under the bill.

8 & 9 — PRIORITY SCHOOL DISTRICT (PSD) GRANT PROGRAM AND NORWALK GRANT CHANGE

For FY 15, the bill increases by $69,930, from $2,200,070 to $2,270,000, the additional statutory grant provided under the PSD grant program for Norwalk (i.e., the municipality with the sixth-largest population in the state based on the 2010 Census).

The bill also extends the authorization for supplementary PSD grants as an ongoing grant. Under current law, the authorization ended June 30, 2015. It also allows PSDs to carry forward from FY 16 to FY 17 any unexpended PSD grant funds allocated after May 1, 2016.

10 — SUPPLEMENTAL MAGNET SCHOOL TRANSPORTATION GRANTS

The bill extends for FYs 16 and 17, the education commissioner's authority to make supplemental Sheff magnet school transportation grants, within available appropriations, to the Capitol Region Education Council. The supplemental grants are paid in the subsequent fiscal year after completion of a comprehensive financial review, which is paid out of the grant amount.

7 & 11 — VARIOUS MINOR REVISIONS

Makes various minor and technical changes related to magnet school, capital, and operating grant funding.

COMMITTEE ACTION

Education Committee

Joint Favorable Substitute

Yea

32

Nay

0

(03/16/2016)