Closing the state’s educational achievement gap is one of the biggest challenges to Connecticut’s economy and future, and this week the legislature’s Education Committee started the legislative process to address the problem.
The committee voted to draft and hold a public hearing on a measure aimed at closing the academic achievement gap. CBIA is hopeful that as the bill evolves, it will seek to adopt the recommendations of the Connecticut Commission on Educational Achievement in order to address the huge academic disparities between the state's low-income students and their more affluent peers.
Although Connecticut is the richest state, per capita, in the nation, its lowest performing students fall within the lowest 20th percentile on national tests, results comparable with lower-performing states such as Alabama and Mississippi.
Connecticut spends more on education — $14,610 per pupil — than 46 other states, yet low-income fourth- and eighth-graders are, on average, three grade levels behind their peers in reading and math.
CBIA believes that education dollars must be spent more wisely and that everyone in the system should be more accountable. In fact, the commission’s ideas will help make sure that resources are most effectively used and that all young people will be prepared to participate in the 21st century economy.
Among other things, the commission set a 10-year educational vision for the state designed to:
• Attract the best teachers and school leaders to Connecticut
• Provide support to teachers to increase their effectiveness
• Deal with consistently low-performing schools
• Examine how Connecticut finances its public education system
• Suggest a governance structure that emphasizes accountability
• Expand preschool education
Connecticut is also facing a very tough budget crisis and it is uncertain how much of the commission’s recommendations will be implemented. Still, it is vitally important for the legislature to press ahead on this issue as resources allow.