State Board of Education approves new Turnaround Plans

(HARTFORD, CT)—Governor Dannel P. Malloy and Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor today announced that five schools will join the Commissioner’s Network, the state’s lead initiative to turn around the most chronically low-performing schools in Connecticut.

The State Board of Education approved applications from John C. Clark School in Hartford, serving prekindergarten-Grade 8; Lincoln-Bassett School in New Haven, serving prekindergarten–Grade 6; Robert J. O’Brien STEM Academy in East Hartford, serving kindergarten–Grade 6; Luis Muñoz Marin School in Bridgeport, serving prekindergarten–Grade 8; and Uncas Elementary School in Norwich, serving kindergarten–Grade 5.

This year, Connecticut is investing more than $15 million in Commissioner’s Network schools. This is the third group to join the network, bringing the total to 16 schools serving nearly 10,000 students.

“By joining the Commissioner’s Network, these schools will receive the additional resources they need to support teachers in their efforts to improve student success and graduate high-achievers,” Governor Malloy said. “Earlier today, we learned that for the first time in Connecticut history, we’ve made substantial progress in narrowing the achievement gap between black and white students – proof that this model works. I commend the Board on today’s action to expand the Network to include an additional five schools.”

Acceptance into the Commissioner’s Network authorizes intensive interventions and enables the supports needed to dramatically improve student achievement through bold, research-based reforms. It qualifies schools for additional flexibility, autonomy, and resources, such as grants and other funding, in exchange for greater accountability. The Commissioner of Education selects schools to participate in the network for three to five years.

“The Turnaround Committees in each of these communities have succeeded in developing plans for boosting academic achievement, strengthening professional development, and improving the culture and climate in their schools,” Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor said. “We are pleased to welcome these schools into the Commissioner’s Network, and we look forward to the progress they will make in the coming academic years. There are thousands of students struggling to succeed in these schools right now. The plans approved today establish paths to higher performance for these schools and students.”

Among the highlights of the five turnaround plans the schools submitted are new administrative leadership, partnerships with community organizations, reorganization and reconfiguration of school schedules, extended days and year for teachers, and new models for teaching and learning.

The Turnaround Committee for John C. Clark School reached consensus to approve the Turnaround Plan as a foundation for change at Clark School, with the addition of Capitol Region Education Council (CREC) as the Lead Partner for Clark. In this capacity, CREC will be responsible for the management of Clark during the school’s participation in the Network. The specific details of CREC’s duties as Lead Partner will be defined in an agreement between the Hartford Board of Education and CREC.

Lincoln-Bassett, through the redesign process, aspires to serve as an anchor for community revitalization and educational excellence in the Newhallville neighborhood of New Haven. Lincoln-Bassett will strengthen core academics, while providing before- and after-school programming with community partners five days a week.

Robert J. O’Brien STEM Academy is a low-performing school that has made progress in student achievement in mathematics and reading over the past few years. With the Commissioner’s Network, O’Brien aims to accelerate its progress and achieve much greater growth. O’Brien’s turnaround plan includes the expansion of the successful STEM—science, technology, engineering, and mathematics— model to additional grade levels over the next three years.

Luis Muñoz Marin School serves over 900 students and will form a new Lower School and Upper School as a part of its turnaround process. This new and innovative structure will promote differentiation and student engagement. Marin will work with Cooperative Education Services (CES) to provide professional development and academic support aligned to student needs and school goals, and extensive, job-embedded support, coaching, and direction for the Lower and Upper Schools’ leadership teams.

Uncas Elementary School joins Stanton Elementary School as the second school from Norwich to join the Commissioner’s Network. Uncas plans to replicate core components of Stanton’s turnaround model, which has led to improved student outcomes and school climate over the past year-and-a-half. This will include full implementation of a research-based approach to teaching reading and writing called the Literacy Workshop Model and on-the-job professional development and training for teachers.

By Alex

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