Aiming for success and achieving success were the dual themes at two education meetings that attracted the attention of Governor Dannel P. Malloy today. In Hartford, educators from the state’s 11 Network Schools, schools with the most stubborn academic and social challenges, shared with the governor details of their school improvement plans and their progress to date—progress that is positively impacting 7,100 students.
That progress ranges from improvement in student achievement to reductions in student suspensions to restructuring the school year and day and much more.
Governor Malloy urged the educators to aim for success. “I am in a room of sponsors of success. I believe we can no longer talk about distributing opportunity. We have to talk about distributing success and showing results.” The governor added that each educator should think about each student as his or her own child.
Morgan Barth, division director of the Office of Turnaround at the Connecticut State Department of Education, commended the Network School educators and urged them to do even more. “You can be the civil rights heroes of the 21st century,” he said.
Part of the Network Schools meeting focused on promoting a strong culture of data usage. Educators also discussed relationship building with students. Joseph LaBarbera, a fourth grade teacher in Stanton School in Norwich, commented on analyzing student behavior trends. “There is real value in knowing your students very well. It is time well spent. If you need to use a behavior de-escalation strategy that works, you have to have that relationship.”
Teachers at Crosby High School in Waterbury are working on many new relationships because they are in their first year as a Network School. Matt Corcoran, a Crosby English teacher, says he hopes the participation will promote a more meaningful experience for all members of the Crosby High School community resulting in greater student achievement.
Governor Malloy said he plans to get on the road and see first hand the hard work going on at underperforming schools that are in the state’s new Network School and Alliance School programs. In fact, he did just that earlier in the day visiting Bloomfield High School, where administrators presented a long list of indicators of success, illustrating that Bloomfield is closing the achievement gap in targeted areas.
Meaningful collaboration among Bloomfield’s teachers, administrators, parents, students, and community members has been key to success. Bloomfield’s new teacher evaluation system is a case in point where many voices, including the input of the teachers union, played a role in its successful development. Bloomfield High School principal Sam Galloway said, “We let the teachers know we are on their side. This is not a gotcha thing. We have an evaluation work group that looks at necessary tweaks in our teacher evaluation plan.”
Susan Sumberg, the president of the Bloomfield Education Association, said, “We’re here to work together, and we did on the teacher evaluation plan. We revised it, reviewed it, and it’s working. The teacher evaluation process is good professional growth with important input and exchanges of information. Administrators and teachers address challenges together.”