Standards and Accountability: Connecticut has established clear and specific standards in all grade spans in mathematics and science. The state does not have clear and specific standards in English/language arts. The state has clear and specific standards in social studies/history at the middle school level only.
State tests in English and math are aligned with state standards in elementary, middle, and high school. The high school science test also is aligned with state standards. Connecticut is one of 19 states whose tests include multiple-choice, short-answer, and extended-response questions in English and other subjects in all grade spans.
As part of its accountability system, the state publishes school report cards and assigns school ratings based on a number of factors, including test results. The accountability system does not include sanctions for all consistently low-performing or failing schools, including non-Title I schools, nor does the state reward high-performing or improving schools. Connecticut does provide help to schools rated low-performing.
Efforts to Improve Teacher Quality: Only Louisiana and South Carolina scored higher than Connecticut for efforts to improve teacher quality.
The state has comprehensive teacher education requirements. Connecticut is one of 15 states that require both high school and middle school teachers to complete a minimum amount of coursework in the subjects they plan to teach. In addition, the state requires all potential teachers to complete 10 weeks of student teaching. The state’s requirements for teachers entering the profession through its alternative route are similarly stringent. Alternative-route candidates must complete subject-area coursework before entering the program. They also must pass content-area tests before they become responsible for their own classrooms.
On the testing front, Connecticut requires its teachers to pass a full battery of basic-skills, subject-knowledge, and subject-specific-pedagogy exams to earn licenses. In addition, for the state’s second, more advanced level of licensure, evaluation teams of two or three state-trained professionals review portfolios and videotaped lessons submitted by teachers.
The state also puts resources into the professional support of teachers by financing a mentoring program and earmarking money for professional development.
The state identifies its struggling teacher education programs. By 2005-06, it plans to report, by institution, how the graduates of teacher education programs performed on portfolio assessments. Currently, teachers’ passing rates on the state’s performance-assessment system for second-stage licensure are tracked by institution and become part of the accountability system for those institutions. Low passing rates by teachers interrupt the five-year program-approval cycle and trigger further review.
School Climate: Connecticut earns a relatively high grade in this category, in large part because of the positive ratings school officials gave their schools on the background survey of the National Assessment of Educational Progress. A larger percentage of students in Connecticut than in other states attend schools where an administrator reports that absenteeism, tardiness, classroom misbehavior, and lack of parent involvement are not problems or are only minor problems.
The state’s grade dips a little because Connecticut has only a limited open-enrollment system and a charter school law that is rated as weak by the Center for Education Reform.
Equity: Connecticut’s wealth-neutrality score indicates slight inequities in the distribution of funding based on property wealth. The state also has a moderate amount of disparity across districts based on its coefficient of variation, at 13.6 percent. The coefficient of variation measures how wide disparities in funding are across districts. Connecticut fares better on its McLoone Index, which compares the total amount spent on students in districts below the median with the amount that would be needed to ensure all districts spent at least at the median. The state ranks 11th on this indicator.
Spending: Connecticut spends well above the national average of $7,734 per pupil, ranking sixth among the 50 states and the District of Columbia, with an expenditure of $9,188 in the 2001-02 school year. Connecticut also does much better than other states on the spending index, ranking fourth on that comparative measure, which takes into account both how many students in the state have funding at or above the national average and how far the rest fall below the average. Nearly all students in Connecticut attend schools in districts with per-pupil expenditures at or above the U.S. average.
Connecticut achieves its level of spending with slightly above-average total taxable resources spent on education, at 3.9 percent.