In a major win-win development for Connecticut’s young people and businesses, lawmakers passed a landmark bill designed to reform the state’s education system. The much-needed reforms will help equip students with the skills needed to contribute in the 21st century workforce.

The legislation also should boost Connecticut’s prospects for winning coveted federal Race to the Top education dollars in the upcoming second round of funding. CBIA applauds the leadership and commitment of the legislature’s Education Committee in ensuring passage of this important legislation.

Among other things, SB-438:

  • Raises the bar on high school graduation standards
  • Removes the cap on high-achieving charter schools
  • Upgrades IT systems to capture data on students’ academic performance
  • Bolsters high school faculties by promoting the alternate route to teacher certification for people with workplace experience
  • Promotes the spread of Advanced Placement courses in schools throughout the state
  • Aims at narrowing the state’s achievement gap with new school accountability standards

Recently, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan emphasized that Race to the Top proposals that can “drive real reform” have better chances to win this year’s round of funding. SB-438 is a strong signal of commitment to meeting the secretary’s requirements.

That’s good, because 23 other states have already aligned their curricula to standards similar to those proposed in SB-438, and 21 more state are in the planning process.

It’s also a much-needed boost to Connecticut’s overall education system and opens the door to greater opportunity for young people and a better talent tool for employers. What’s more, the Connecticut State University System already has made these standards part of college entrance requirements.

Also passed was a bill designed to bolster the state’s technical high schools (SB-379). It contains many provisions that will improve the management of the schools.

CBIA applauds the legislature for passing this package of high school reforms and looks forward to working with the state to promote their implementation.