With Connecticut holding the nation’s largest academic achievement gap, it is urgent that the state adopt the most promising ways to raise students’ performance.
Last week, the State Department of Education adopted guidelines governing the Commissioner’s Network and Alliance District funding, programs designed to improve Connecticut’s poorest-performing schools.
The Alliance District program is a critically important part of implementing Connecticut’s new education reforms (PA 12-116). The program is designed to compel and equip education leaders to focus on turning around persistently low performing schools and closing the achievement gap.
Alliance districts serve nearly 40% of the state’s young people and employ more than 35% of educators in Connecticut. Nearly every public elementary and secondary school in the state that has been cited as needing improvement for five years or more is located in an Alliance district.
The Alliance District program:
- Ties eligibility for incremental Education Cost Sharing (ECS) funding to high quality plans to raise academic achievement
- Compels leaders to act urgently and responsibly by starting in the 2012-2013 school year, and requiring an annual review over a five-year period.
- Connects resources, funding, improvement strategies, and outcomes
- Prioritizes practices with evidence of success in raising achievement and closing gaps
- Recognizes local culture and contextby supporting districts to develop their own plans
The Alliance District program has the potential to raise the quality of education for all students in Connecticut's 30 lowest-achieving districts and significantly reduce the achievement gap over the next five years.