Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now
ConnCAN's second annual report on Connecticut's public schools is pretty gloomy. To start, only a third of minority and low-income students are meeting state goals on the Connecticut Mastery Test, compared with two-thirds of middle-class white students. And the gap is widening. Although pupils in all subgroups made similar gains on the state test in elementary school last year, by middle school low-income and minority students had fallen behind their white peers. In terms of income, Connecticut's 8th-grade gaps in reading and math are the widest in the country. Thankfully, a few daisies sprout through the weeds. The state's handful of charter schools, for instance, which serve substantially more minority and low-income students than traditional schools, made greater overall gains on the state test last year (10.1 points versus 4.1 in elementary school, and 6.9 versus 2.0 in middle school). The authors propose that such gains might be attributed to extended learning time at the charter schools (18.2 percent more time in elementary school and 12.2 percent more in middle school). The report also lists the state's top ten schools in various categories (performance gains, Hispanic test scores, etc.) and offers links to expanded "success stories" about them that begin to comprise a useful collection of best practices. Readers (especially advocates of adequacy lawsuits) should also note that, of the 20 largest districts in the Nutmeg state, the nine that gained more than two points on the state test spent less than $11,000 per student, while the six that spent more than $12,000 per student all gained less than two points. Instead of wasting more money, Hartford policymakers should implement real, far-reaching reforms, starting with rethinking the state's strict cap on charter schools. Find the report here.